We have moved beyond basic consumption
No longer do we buy to meet our basic needs. We now have so much disposable income and have so many buying choices that we buy to fill emotional needs. We don’t buy a car just because we need transportation. We buy a car because the model we buy shows our economic status or the fact that we value “finely crafted driving machines.” Or that we consider ourselves committed to reversing climate change by driving an electric vehicle.
With our discretionary dollars we want to do more than just buy stuff.
We buy from companies that share our values.
So if you are concerned about local issues, you may buy locally and from companies that support local education, the little league team or saving stray cats.
People buy from companies that offer a great experience. You go to the local coffee shop. They know your name and how you like your coffee. They remember your birthday and not just because they have it in a database and then they can send you an ecard. You feel welcome there– part of the family.
If we share a company’s values and it offers the experience we love, we care about it.
As consumers we look for these companies that we can care about. Do you really care about Target? How about Apple? What about your local café? Would you cry if it went out of business?
Some business gurus will tell you that no one cares about your business but yourself. If you go out of business your customers will take their patronage somewhere else. But this hard-edged view isn’t always true and isn’t the whole picture.
Has your favorite local pub ever gone out of business? Did the dry cleaner who could always get those pasta sauce stains out of your shirts ever shut down?
Did that quirky hardware store that always managed to have just the right part for the project you are working on give up in the face of big box home improvement store competition? What was your reaction?
We have all had a favorite business close. And we do feel abandoned. It is like losing a trusted best friend.
The customers of Tony Dragonas and his Upper East Side New York food stand know what I am talking about. When faced with a court-enforced shut down for allegedly violating local health code violations, his loyal customers began wearing “Cook Free or Die” t-shirts. They signed “Save Tony” petitions. They packed the courtroom to speak on his behalf. The result? The Department of Health backed down in the face of such overwhelming support for Tony.
It isn’t just about the chicken and pitas he serves. In New York you can always find another food truck selling pitas. Tony wasn’t just another food vendor. He had become a well loved institution on his street. A friend worth fighting for.
What about you? Do you have customers like that? Customers willing to do battle on your behalf?
They will if they love what your offer, know your story, share your values and care about your success.
So what can you do as an encore business?
- Connect with people by sharing your passion story. Share your vulnerability, perhaps your failures, and your vulnerabilities, in order meet people on an emotional level. As an encorepreneur you have plenty of life events to share. Use them to your advantage.
- Use stories to connect with your ideal customer’s values. Your business may be based on a shared value, such as personal fulfillment (by selling special interest vacations). It can also be a value that is not directly tied to your business, such as support of a local community program.
- Use stories to illustrate the vision of what could be when the listener uses your product or service. Stories of clients who lost weight, saved their marriage by learning to dance, or learned to control their panic attacks will resonate with those seeking the same solution far better than statistics and data and a lot of marketing noise.
- Use stories to overcome objections. Do prospects think your service is too expensive? Are they not sure it is right for them? They are not sure it will work for them? Tell them stories of past customers and how these objections are not valid. Remove your lame testimonials (You did such a great job!) and instead ask happy customers to help you write powerful testimonials that squash these invalid objections.
Customers are searching for businesses that they can care about. Will you step up to the challenge? Will you create a loyal following like Tony?
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