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Following the elections I had the opportunity to talk with a ‘well connected’ Republican. I asked him what he thought of the election–his statement was eye opening.

“If you you were doing sales training for a company  you would have said, if you don’t have a customer your product doesn’t matter .  I don’t think we  have a customer or if we do, maybe we have the wrong product.”

Interesting isn’t it? All businesses think they know their customers. The only ones that really know them are the ones who talk to them and listen. They listen even if they don’t like the message.

It’s not easy to hear something you don’t like but it’s essential if you want to be able to influence your customer.

Maybe you think your message is the greatest but your customer doesn’t think so. Susana Martinez, Republican  Governor of New Mexico made an interesting statement, and I quote, “Republicans need to stop making assumptions, and they need to start talking to younger people, people of color, and ask them—not talk to them—ask them, ‘What is it that we can do better? How do we earn your vote? How do we earn the ability for you to see that we can be the party that will make your life better and that of your children?'” This is a smart business person. She knows the customer is changing.

Just because  you believe in your message it doesn’t make it right for your customer. Okay so you say these are our beliefs, our ethics,  it’s the way the world should be. So what do you do if your customer doesn’t think the way you do? Do you stick with your message or do what it takes to win. Now do we have a moral dilemma?

The world is the way it is–not the way it should be.

Great customer service says you’ve got to know your customer–period. When it comes to politics, the customer landscape is changing. The customers look different and have a different agenda.

There are lots of great companies that said ‘here it is, like it or lump it;’ they’re mostly gone.

Let’s look at General Motors as they head towards bankruptcy again. Could it be they just don’t know their customers? How could it be they can’t develop a product that the customer wants? When was the last time they talked to their customers? Consider IBM who about a decade ago made the same mistake. They didn’t invest in the future; they invested in the present and were sure they  the knew it all. Eventually they got it right but it was a long  haul.

Dozens of  great firms have fallen into the same trap at one time or another. The problem is that it’s easy to ignore  customers who are different, the ones that full away from the norm.  Businesses have a tendency to  dismiss  customers who represent the future rather than present.

It’s like dismissing customers who use social media. (Check out the Pro Blog highlighted.) When you say you think social media is stupid you’re saying  your customers  are stupid for using social media. I bet they like that.

We often pay attention to those who think like us and ignore the rest.

And who had a better machine than Smith Corona? There are lots of them at tag sales.

Are the Republicans out of step with the new woman?  Women are different, and there are lots more of them. What about the Hispanic vote? It was clear from relatively early on that while the Latino vote came out solidly for Obama, it was women, particularly single women, who made themselves most decisively heard. (Check out the Guardian’s report.)

What can the election tell us about marketing our business? You had better know your customer. Great article from Ben Gran, Sail Blog.

Sticking to tradition will kill your business. Sometimes tradition is just tradition. You may remember this story, if not it’s worth a read. Check this out from Punch Stick.

The husband always loved a good ham so on special occasions the young bride would cook up a nice ham dinner. The husband noticed that each time she cooked a ham both ends were cut off. So the young groom asked why she did that. Her reply was simple, that’s what my mom always did.

On a Thanksgiving the couple was invited over to the home of the bride’s parents. When the ham was served the groom had the chance to ask his Mother-in-law why she cut the ends off the ham. Her simple reply, because that’s what my mom always did.

Now the groom was even more curios and on Christmas was able to ask the brides Grandma why she cut the ends off the ham. Her reply was simple, “We did not have much money and I could not afford a pan big enough to hold the whole ham so I just cut the ends off so it would fit.

Maybe somebody needs a new pan?

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal customers through customer service training and retention marketing. To address your business, she can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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