October 2014

A Personal Quandary … from an older businessman associated with a small business.

I am a firm believer in striving for customer loyalty, yet I question the real value of the technological ‘advancements’ designed to capture this loyalty. I have worked with a number of ‘advanced’ marketing programs created to ‘improve’ loyalty, and from a small business viewpoint, have found them to be burdensome and potentially intrusive so I have limited my use.

The other day I walked into a well-known outdoor clothing store to make a purchase for a backpacking trip. I chose this particular brand because I have had good experience with most of their products. The young clerk was knowledgeable and genuinely friendly. I was pleased as I knew I was purchasing a quality product, and the customer service offered was superior. As I was checking out, the young cashier asked if I was pleased with some earlier purchases. This question provided me with an unexpected sense of ‘value’, something most businesses endeavor to give to their customers. Without the technology available today the young cashier would not have had an opportunity to offer such highly ‘personalized’ service.

I began to think about my frustration with advanced marketing programs and what I considered to be their potentially intrusive nature. It appears that the nature of one’s product may help to define the value of some of these marketing programs. A single-purpose, single-use, and infrequently ordered product may encourage a sense of intrusiveness if the customer is besieged with what they might consider to be repeat information. A single-purpose but multi-use product such as clothing that has many variations and continually updated styles may lend itself well to some of these advanced marketing programs because customers generally want to be kept informed on new styles, designs, sales promotions, etc. I will have to give more consideration to some of these new marketing applications.