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Practicing Empathy Marketing

(October 2012) posted on Tue Sep 18, 2012

"You must be able to recognize that customers often don’t fully understand their own needs simply because they don’t know that alternative products and procedures exist."

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By Craig Miller

At my shop, we have attempted to turn this customer-specified ordering process around. For instance, one of the most common misguided customer notions is to order something like a step-and-repeat photo backdrop on 13-ounce banner vinyl. While that is what they think they want, we know their needs and what they really are looking for.

So, we ask a set of clarifying questions: “Do you want to use the backdrop multiple times?” Yes. “Do you want it to glare from a flash or a video light making the sponsor logo links unreadable in pictures?” No. “Do you want wrinkles?” No. “Do you want it to be heavy, bulky, or hard to transport?” No. “Do you want your brand to look cheap and tacky?” No. So, we’ll respond: “What you are asking us for will be everything that you don’t want. Let us show you what you do want.”

In another case, a new customer recently indicated that they wanted perforated vinyl for an architectural glass installation. Every vendor but us was more than happy to take that job as specified – but every vendor also knew that an alternative solution would better suit that customer. To help the customer think outside the box, we again asked clarifying questions. “Will the glass be viewed from both sides?” Yes. “Is it a high traffic area?” Yes. “Can people touch the glass?” Yes. “Is it new construction?” Yes. “Is the glass exposed to the elements?” Yes. “How long do you want the install to last?” Ten years. “Let me talk to you about some other products that will better meet your needs.”

Using our Screen Truepress Jet2500UV, we were able to output the image like so: image, a layer of white, a layer of black, a layer of white, and then the image, and laminated it. This way, the graphic was protected from the elements and abrasion, plus they had a different image on each side that had text that read correctly from either viewpoint. But had we not come forth with this idea, the customer would have never known that it was what they were really after all along.