Respect (Just a Little Bit)

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“The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife.” – David Ogilvy

Mr. Ogilvy wrote those words nearly 30 years ago. But even today, plenty of marketers don’t get it. It’s a matter of respect.

In the late ’90s, when all the upstart dot-coms were referring to their users not as people, but as “eyeballs” to be “collected”? That was disrespect. (And a large part of the reason so few of them exist today.)

When you call your credit-card provider with a simple billing question, and they try to upsell you on a service you don’t need? That’s disrespect.

When your cell-phone company offers a better deal to their new customers than to you, a long-standing customer?  Major disrespect.

There are hundreds of ways to show respect for those you serve. Here are just a few:

  • Ask questions and listen closely before you start selling.
  • Make the decision-making process simple.
  • Get to know your customers intimately – not just how they interact with your product or service, but their needs, concerns and values, even how they spend their day.
  • Identify ways to simplify their lives and save them time.
  • Communicate transparently and clearly.

Of course, better than just “showing” respect to your customers is actually respecting them. I’ve been in conference rooms where consumers were flat-out called “stupid.” It’s disturbing, but it happens. In the end, it’s a mindset. Your company either truly respects the people who keep it in business, or it doesn’t.

And remember: If you respect your customers, that doesn’t mean they’ll  automatically respect you in return. (Though it certainly can’t hurt.)

Your disrespect, however, guarantees theirs.

How do you demonstrate respect for your customers, consumers and clients?  Please let us know in a comment below.

About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He calls Chicago home.

Copyright 2012 – Matthew Fenton.  All Rights Reserved.  You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.

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