Do your online customers love you? I mean really love you? The chances are your business is merely “acceptable” to your customers. Few businesses are loved, or adored by their customers. Indeed, for many customers you are not even the ideal business of your kind – you are probably just the best they can find at this moment in time. The truth is, few businesses ever achieve the status where our customers wax evangelically about us because we fit their pre-determined idealised supplier. For most customers, we simply “do”.
In a sense it is rather like many marriages. People are attracted to each other – often physically – and then learn to love each other, faults and all. Your partner knows your foibles, your less than pleasant habits and your best features. But, like you, they are happy to compromise; after all, Brad Pitt was already spoken for so “you’ll do” instead. Most couples rub along together OK, happy in their lot. And in many instances companies and their customers do the same; your local supermarket may not be your ideal shop, but you get along just fine.
New research on relationships shows us that people who falsely believe their partner is their ideal lover actually have longer-lasting relationships than people who accept their shortcomings. This is counter-intuitive; however, it is the culmination of many years of study which have produced the same consistent finding. When people trick themselves into believing that their partner matches their idealized companion, they have a better relationship. So, for instance, when you want a partner who is witty and intelligent, but actually who is only intelligent you tend to have a better and longer lasting relationship if you convince yourself that your dull partner MUST BE witty because she is so intelligent.
In business, you can see this in play many times. Some people love their local butcher’s shop, for instance because it supplies “the finest hand-made sausages” in the country. That may well be one of their ideals for a butcher. However, another ideal may be “low prices”. The customers who are convinced by the finest sausage argument and who believe therefore that the prices must be low will remain much more loyal than the customers who love the sausages, but realise they pay through the nose for them.
So, how can you use this online? What you need to do is to find the characteristics of the idealised business your kind of customers are looking for. If you run an online bank or if you run an Internet ebook store, your customers will have in mind their ideal supplier in that sector. Find out what it is. Then make sure you match as many of those requirements as you can. But with the others, make sure you use the words in your marketing, in your keywords, on your web pages. That way you will start to associate your brand with those additional idealised requirements, helping people believe you truly match every single one of their demands – and thereby lengthening your relationship.
This might sound like trickery – but remember this. Partners only see each other as ideal IF they can tick off a number of their requirements as definitely being met. The more of those that are ticked, the more that partners see each other as meeting the other ideals, even if they do not actually achieve them. In other words, your business needs to be almost ideal anyway – but happily for you, not quite.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+