Should you profile your clients and customers?

The previous post created a comment that made me think of something that is really important for getting more referrals, having better relationships with your employees, selecting alliance partners and even service providers – people are who they are and it’s very unlikely that they will change!

The O in the BOLTS part of our NUTS & BOLTS model stands for outreach and “Others first” is how this is initiated. Whatever you are doing online or in person, it will be effective and get results to a much, much higher degree if you pay attention to what people want and need and then find a way to help them get it in a way that makes them feel like they are important – more important that the sale, more important than what you have to say, more important even… than being “right”.

The place this can be the hardest is when a customer gives a referral or recommendation and makes up their own tagline or describes it in a way that has nothing to do with why you or your marketing department think your company, product or service is adding value.

A good example of this is Mentos and Diet Coke explosion videos… this became a humongous viral online sensation and the Mentos company rolled with it and became publicity magnets and a much more recognized brand. Why? Because they didn’t get all stuffy and say.. “oh we are breath mints… oh we are candy… or our tagline is ‘blah, blah, blah, fresh something’. Even though they had spent some serious money promoting ‘blah, blah, fresh’.

[youtube 9vk4_2xboOE 480 360]

Because they did understand their clients and best customers, Millennials – they took it as a compliment and had fun with it and even started a follow-up contest that supported the viral “in the wild” videos people were making. The video above was tastefully sponsored with Mentos and Diet Coke providing the products but not insisting on much for credits or adoption of their corporate “look”.

(Anything going viral on Social Media that features your product in a good way or popular and not bad way is a form of Supercharged Referrals. What you don’t want is people like the Domino’s employees doing nasty things with your product going viral… whole different thing and get immediate responses out there that show you care.)

A previous post talked about a set of really nice Blackwing Pencils that were sent to me and how I found them highly amusing and useful, tweeted, facebooked and wrote a blog post about them. I am “out there” in Social Media but not extremely popular or some guru, but a couple people already said they want some and I’m thinking about getting more as client gifts.

Blackwing Pencils with removable erasersWhy would I want these pencils for client gifts?

1. They are classy and useful but not super expensive or guilt inducing ethics-wise

2. What kind of people would be happy if I sent these pencils with refillable erasers?

People who are creative and don’t have a problem making mistakes, changes, adjustments.

Working with constantly changing marketing and Social Media, you have to be creative and willing to learn, adjust, fail/succeed with fails on about a 9 to 1 ratio.

(Because I build relationships and create fail zones that are “harmless” this is fine. Making a product in your factory that leaves the assembly and is not working or meeting measured specs is an unacceptable failure – trying a marketing campaign and it just doesn’t take off or writing a really insightful blog post that gets ignored is acceptable failure and part of the game.)

3. What kind of people wouldn’t like them?

Pen People.

Nothing against pens, and I am picky about pens I use too due to art training… but people who won’t use an eraser, don’t want the risk of a fragile lead that can break and want things just so the first time… are not good clients for marketing with Social Media.

4. Do they have a high novelty factor? Oh yes they do. If I send a couple, is there a chance that someone will pass the second one on to a friend or colleague and talk about me? Yes indeed. What if they hog them in a secret stash, hide them in a drawer so no one borrows them? Even better – as a non-commodity, rare beast (someone who actually works hard and thinks about profit centers and future markets instead of just hyping Social Media…) I get paid better than the usual suspects who took a class or read an article and rely on scare tactics and silly ROI promises of microwave fast results.

The Bagel and Lox TestBagel and Lox

My favorite way to profile people is with Bagels and Lox though… if I will be working closely with someone, I will watch things like how they handle a delicious nosh.

The onions – doesn’t matter to me if you eat them or not unless it’s a “personal” interview for a “personal position” and even then it’s allright.

The bagel – you don’t have much control over the bagel – hopefully it is toasted nicely and not cold or burnt.

The Schmear -aka the cream cheese – if someone is lactose intolerant and doesn’t use it that is ok… If used, do they spread it evenly on all the bagels? do they take it all the way to the edges?

The other toppings… lox, cucumber, tomato slices, hard boiled eggs, capers… all can be added in any order without judgment… but the capers are the key indicating factor of this test that makes it powerful.

Some people just don’t like capers… (pickled buds of something or other) – I am a caper fan myself so favor those who take the risk and go for the capers. RISK? Oh yes… and this is the magic.

People who are extroverts, adventurous and spontaneous will put the capers up on top like the picture shows… if you are filling a position in accounting… do more tests… if you are filling a position in sales… a very good sign.

People who put the capers under other toppings at random are more stability oriented, but still like the tangy perkiness and have fun potential – managers, day to day operations, even executives – a good solid but not too boring sign.

People who embed the capers in the schmear in a fairly even distribution appreciate order, don’t want to be embarrassed by wildly rolling nibbles – but still enjoy the tangy perkiness. Someone who puts exactly 10 capers on each bagel in a symmetrical distribution, may have OCD or be a bit too fussy. Caution if you need them to be flexible or take risks.

What about me? There are those who know… and they may tell… but what would be your guess? How do my capers roll? (or do they????) You may have to buy me breakfast to find out!!!

About the author

Kathryn Booth Trainor

I have owned and operated two service companies which merged into one, still in business after almost 20 years. The company was sold and I began writing and consulting while I completed my MBA at Oklahoma State University in 2006 with emphasis on Marketing and Project Management. My special expertise is in helping people evaluate entrepreneurial ventures, formulate business and marketing plans and structure their companies to be both lucrative and fulfilling. In addition, I have some techniques for transition planning and project management that I use to help clients move from one phase of operations to the next level. Because of the breadth of my business knowledge, combined with writing and marketing skills, I can quickly and effectively create an online footprint with website, mobile app, social media channels and search engine optimization that gets found fast. In web and print advertising, having just the right words and communicating each company's unique flavor and capabilities make the most impact. Specialties:Entrepreneurial experience with service companies and micro-businesses, Marketing and promotional materials, Business plans, Strategic Plans, Trusted Advisor