Your Customer the Cow? No, the Golden Goose!

I just opened an e-mail marketing a product/program that compared customers— people—to cows. Now, I have nothing against cows, but having interacted with them upon occasion when my grandfather raised a few, they were not the brightest of God’s creations. They were content to eat, sleep, and, well, do their business. They had big brown eyes and were not much trouble. You opened the gates and they walked through. They would know when it was time to go out into the field for the day to graze and when to come into the barn at the end of the day. They rarely knew when it was time to get out of the bad weather nor could they learn to hook themselves up to the milking machine. They had limited capacity for knowledge. They were easily lead and definitely had a herd mentality, but what do you expect? They are cows—customers are people.

The cows in some commercials for various restaurants, products, and so on have been given personalities. They are not cows of the field, the kind that are milked or that end up on the dinner table. The cows in commercials are more like a Disney’s version of life. We know that and accept the advertising reality (what an oxymoron!). Calling your customers cows! What are you thinking?

Herd Mentality? Maybe …

Moo! You lead, I’ll follow without thought. Well, that only happens in stampedes. In the real world, customers do think. Really. They may purchase on impulse for some products and on some occasions, but customers generally think about what they are doing—consciously or subconsciously. They make a decision to buy based upon a desire to get something in return for the money they spend. It may be to satisfy a “genuine” need or it may simply be related to an “image” or “luxury” purchase. For the customer, it is still a motivation and from the customers perspective a valid reason to buy. So the MOOtivation is still valid, but the customer is not a cow following the herd: a little respect, please! If you aren’t respecting your customer, then why are you doing business with them? It will ultimately show in your product and your service.

Not so Bright? Milking the Customer …

So, you can get the cow to come to the barn, but you can’t get them to … Customers expect to be served, which is an interesting concept that more and more businesses are overlooking. Bring the customer to your door and expect them to provide their own customer service, solve their own problems, figure out your products and solutions, tell you what they need, and sell your product to them. What are YOU thinking?

Thinking of your customer as a cow puts “milking customers for all they’re worth” into a whole new category. You want maximum return from the customer with minimal effort. You want the customer to work for you and to serve your business rather than you working for the customer. When did the business process get flipped around? The business is supposed to serve the customer. The customer is the one who gets served, gets to look for value, to shop for alternatives. So the MOOtivation had better be in your company to make the connection to the customer when the customer comes walking up to your door.

Golden Goose, Golden Eggs

The customer isn’t a cow: it is a golden goose to be tended, cared for, and for the business to work to get it come to roost and lay its golden egg of business at your door. The customer can fly on by and find someone else to do business with. If you think of each customer as easily lead, not so bright, or to be “milked” like a cow, then you are missing many opportunities to build a valuable, sustainable, and profitable relationship with your market. Customers do business where they find value and are valued, beyond the product they buy and the one transaction they are currently engaged in. The business that recognizes that the true value of customers comes from the ongoing relationship of direct purchases plus the marketing power of positive referrals and “leading” others to your business builds a business that is viable and credible in the face of all types of competitive pressures. That business is capable of differentiating itself and being profitable because of the value the customer places on the product package (actual tangible products, services, and relationship) it offers.

The sustainable business doesn’t look at customers as cows. It also doesn’t get greedy with its golden goose. It recognizes that respect for the customer ultimately keeps the business from cooking its own goose.

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