How To Make Buyers Feel Good

The little things matter more than you think.

Written by Clare

We’ve just moved into a new house. The whole thing needs painted. I’m talking every square inch. Every skirting board. Every cornice. Every dusty little crevice behind the radiators.

It all needs at least three coats, plus sugar-soaping, filling and sanding. Then we get to do the floors.

I belong to Dulux now. If the back of their tins said “First, wash down the walls with 100 millilitres of mouse blood and the final dregs of your will to live,” I wouldn’t be slightly surprised.

But on the upside, I’ve had an epiphany about plug sockets.

Wanna hear it? Well, you’re going to. The more I talk to you, the less I have to smear every hinge in the house with Vaseline. Don’t ask.

So the plug sockets throughout our new home are in bad condition. They work perfectly well but they’re filthy and covered in old paint. My first thoughts were: “How can I clean these? Maybe I could I turn off the electricity, dip a cotton bud in Flash and get the grime off the edges that way. And I could chip the paint off with a razor blade.”

My second thoughts were: “How many sockets are in this place? Fifteen. Double ones. Huh.”

My third thoughts were: “Why don’t we just get some new plug sockets?”

BOOM! Wait, you don’t see the boom? Okay, let me explain.

You see, plug sockets are boring but we use them all the time. They’re a small but significant feature of everyday life. The ones in our new house are never going to look good. If I leave them as they are now I’ll get a yurrrrk feeling every time I look at one.

If I try to clean them up they’ll probably still be pretty grubby. In that case I might get a slightly milder yeerrrk feeling. Let’s make a conservative estimate and say that I can expect to use or see a plug socket five times a day.

That’s 35 yurrrrks or yeerrrks a week. Or almost two thousand a year.

Sure, we’re talking about a momentary feeling, but that’s still rather a lot, wouldn’t you say? So here’s my epiphany.

What if there were no yurrrrks or yeerrrks at all?

What if, instead of all those tiny bad feelings, Anthony and I experienced lots of tiny good feelings? What if we felt welcome and cared for every time we plugged something in? What if yurrrrk and yeerrrk turned into aaaaah?

And what if you did the same thing for your customers?

Take a second to think about why people buy what you make. What problem does it solve for them? What hole does it fill?

Then think about the journey your customer goes on – from their first spark of interest in your lovely thing, right the way through to them holding it in their hands.

Where are the sticking points?

Which tiny moments in the process make them go uuuurgh< or aaargh or eeeeek? In other words, how can you make your customer feel looked-after and welcome in your business every step of the way?

Let me give you an example.

Sometimes we’ll get a submission from an artist whose style we rather like. As we read her introductory email and flick through her wholesale catalogue we’ll start to get an excited feeling. We’ll talk about how well her work fits into our collection and how we might display it.

All systems are go. But then we’ll get to her terms and conditions. Now, don’t get me wrong – retailers understand that suppliers have to protect themselves. Being clear about what you can and can’t offer is the foundation of a great wholesale relationship.

There’s no need, however, to word your terms and conditions in the icy language of a vengeful Dickensian lawyer.

When you spend 500 words describing how winged monkeys will feast upon my spleen if I don’t meet your minimum order, my willingness to stock your work tends to fade. After that, the artist can bang on all she likes about her excellent customer service and award-winning ear-muffs. It won’t make the slightest difference.

I’ve seen under the hood and I got that yurrrrk< feeling. I'm outta there. So here's what that plug socket taught me.

1. The world is stuffed with opportunities to make yourself (and your customers) feel good.

Even when it comes to little things. My current plugs are all “You again? Bah! Take your panini press and sod off!”

The shiny new ones we’re going to install are more like “Oh, hooray! I was hoping you’d come by! Plug in your charming sandwich device by all means. And what a dashing tank-top you’re sporting.”

I know which one I’d rather see every day.

2. It takes a conscious effort to set things up so that you (and your customers) feel good.

What we’re really talking about here is being thoughtful. Getting into your customer’s head – or your own – takes time and energy.

Let’s say, for example, that if you lay your work clothes out the night before you feel much less harried in the morning. You’ve got time to read the paper and have a blueberry muffin. Your day gets off to a relaxed and happy start.

In order to feel like that, however, you have to do the work. You have to get off the couch and rake through your wardrobe. I have to buy new plug sockets and find an electrician.

Those tiny good feelings won’t happen all by themselves.

3. There are always reasons not to bother.

Did I plan on spending (ahem) £200 on new plug sockets when we moved house? Nope. Will your customers desert you unless you iron out every miniscule moment of discomfort? Nope.

But we can always find reasons why it’s not worth making the effort.

It’s too expensive. It’s too difficult. Everyone does it this way. But life is short and joy is fleeting. As soon as you finish one coat of Dulux it’s time to start another.

If you can glean happiness from tiny things, and help your customer to do so too, then lucky you.

Why not make the effort?

Clare Yuille Bio Picture

Clare Yuille

I help creative people like you sell their work to independent retailers, without hyperventilating into a sandwich bag. I take the EEEEK! out of wholesale and replace it with AAAAH, right up until you're making the kind of money you want to make.

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