Are Your Clients Harder Than Ever to Please?

By Beacon Staff

Are your clients are harder than ever to please?

Are today’s clients more difficult to please than those from 20 years ago? Depends on who you ask.

Ask anyone coming here from another continent about what strikes them first about the U.S. and size will be one of the first things they mention.

Size? The size, the number of choices we have is stunning to people from other countries, regardless of the type of market you look at.

Bottom line, the number of choices that we have when purchasing the most mundane items is hugely different than it was even a decade ago.

Walk through a grocery store and think back as little as 10-15 years ago. Were there 20, 30 or 100 different brands of soft drinks in 1980 or 1990?

It isn’t just soda.

You could eat a different spaghetti sauce, mustard or barbeque sauce every day for a month if you looked around a little. If you worked hard, I’ll bet you could stretch that out to three or four months – and we’re just talking about the major food brands.

The impact of that? Corporate grocery stores are huge compared to their size 20 years ago. They now compete with the local bakery (Columbia Falls lost theirs a few months ago), the local deli, local restaurants, local pharmacies and other local businesses.

They have to do this in order to support a building that is three times larger than it would have been in 1990. You know, because of all that choice they’re expected to provide, among other things.

It isn’t just groceries though. The number of choices you have at the bank, car dealer and every place else is growing.

Why? People just don’t tolerate having to settle for less than exactly what they wanted when it comes to the selection of products. They want exactly what they want, and they’ll be able to tell you why.

For example, I have no doubt that we could find someone who could provide a credible reason for each of the 378134 different bra SKUs (styles, colors, sizes) in the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Choice is important.

Your challenge is to look hard at the choices you offer to your clients.

Do they move your business closer to achieving its goals?

Do they move your clients closer to achieving their goals?

It’s hard to think about the 1214 different barbeque sauces that you might try – even if you skip Dave’s Insanity – as achieving someone’s barbeque goals.

But they do.

The reason they do is that if you ask 100 people to describe their favorite barbeque sauce, they’ll all say the same things, collectively.

Smoky. Sweet. Spicy.

BUT if you lay out 20 barbeque sauces and ask 100 people to taste them and choose one, you won’t see only three choices getting made as the favorite. Tastes just don’t fit the bell curve these days. 20 years ago, you might have had five choices and one or two winners.

Today, you might see 10 or 12 favorites rise above the pack.

Individualized tastes don’t just end at barbeque sauce. They extend to legal services, website design and a slew of other products and services.

Papa Bear and Momma Bear both want their porridge juuuust right, and they feel the same way about their towels, sleeping bag, pickup truck and lunch meat.

They want choice.

A few weeks ago, we talked about the new competition that local pharmacies have from KRMC. One of my suggestions noted that the pharmacies were going to have to specialize to survive, much less to thrive. Despite being called to task for that suggestion, the reality is that it’s essential – and particularly essential to examine where you specialize on a regular basis.

Specializing means providing better, perhaps more, choices for products and services.

It means providing specific solutions to specific problems that might not have existed six months, six years or six days ago. Whose business, whose market, whose challenges are exactly the same as they were three years ago?

Choice means eliminating your clients’ need to settle for less than they expected. Your challenge is to get out of that “We’ve always done it that way” mindset and find what they are settling for.

And then fix it.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at [email protected].