I want to help but I don’t know how.
It’s like I’m standing at my friends’ doorstep, ready to help them get some painting done, but they’re not telling me what room to paint or even what color to use. “Here’s your paintbrush,” they say. “Some paint cans are over there.”
[nothing else but silence]
I feel like an idiot.
Clearly Canadian – the taste-tastic beverage that practically vanished from the world in the early 2000s – is trying to make a comeback. I love the stuff so much that I placed two pre-orders, which will ship in October/November 2015 along with over twenty-five thousand other pre-orders (order yours here). I recently received an email notifying me that production had begun. As I read the message, I realized something important.
I placed my pre-order five months ago, and since then, Clearly Canadian has sent out only one email update. One. In five months. I don’t care how long it’s taking for the scrumptious beverage to arrive at my doorstep; I do care that Clearly Canadian is not using me, or the tens of thousands of people like me, to its full advantage.
Those who’ve pre-ordered are people who are loyal to the brand. By pre-ordering, they’re telling Clearly Canadian that they’ve got its back. These people want Clearly Canadian to succeed, and they may do just about anything for the company. And thankfully, Clearly Canadian execs are smart enough to see our willingness to help their business, but they still don’t take full advantage of it.
Clearly Canadian needs mass distribution to continue production. This is clearly stated in the one update email:
Take careful note of item number two.
Clearly Canadian wants me to talk to grocery store managers about selling its product. Smart. But I don’t believe something as simple as “Hey, this is a great drink – you ought to sell it” is going to cut it.
This list comprises thoughts I had when I read email item number two:
- How do I get ahold of a manager?
- What should I tell the manager?
- What questions might the manager have for me?
- If the manager has more questions, where or whom should I send him or her to?
- How do I convey confidence that Clearly Canadian is a good product that the store manager should consider selling?
Since I read Clearly Canadian’s plea, I have yet to talk to any store managers.
If I’m given guidance, I’m more likely and happier to do what you’re asking of me. So, if Clearly Canadian wants to paint the world faster, it’s going to need to provide some direction. How? By execs putting themselves in my shoes and in the shoes of store managers. These are some suggestions Clearly Canadian may want to consider if it wants its loyal fans to help it find mass distribution:
- Provide a downloadable PDF I can print and give to a store manager
- Provide some conversation-starter ideas
- Create and maintain a dedicated website I can direct store managers to
- Provide a phone number I can distribute to store managers (better yet, also provide the name of the person who’ll be answering the phone)
- Start a blog and keep it updated (there is a company that makes blogging easy)
- Send me more email updates (and in them, include links to the blog)
- Create and use a dedicated email list for store managers
How to Build a Better Business and Grow It Faster Using Empathy
These are steps any business owner or manager can use to find success faster. Use these steps to uncover the ugly stains on the wall of customer relationships.
- Think of your customers. Who do you want taking action on your company’s behalf? What is that action? Clearly Canadian wants both existing customers and store managers to help achieve the ultimate goal of attaining mass distribution.
- Considering the action you want your customers to take, write down everything that would cause a person to not do it. Write down every idea that comes to mind without judgement or second thoughts. Clearly Canadian’s customers do not know how to convey important information to store managers, and store managers do not know what to do with a customer who’s asking if the store will sell Clearly Canadian. (There are more things I could list here, but this type of issue is what I get paid to help with.)
- Think about what would prevent someone from taking final action. For the Clearly Canadian customer, it’s not being sure how to start a conversation with a store manager or not knowing what to say after the conversation has begun.
- Continue the above process until you know that you can give your customers what they need to take action.
- Find ways to fix and address the things that give you pause.
Here’s another way to look at it: start from your ultimate goal and work backwards. Once you know what action you want your customers to take, imagine you customer interactions and find ways to avoid situations that might make your customers hesitate or feel uncomfortable. When done properly, this process will help you become empathetic toward your customers’ experience and allow you to place yourself in their shoes.
This method will help you find holes in the ways customers bond with your brand. And don’t worry: it doesn’t matter how many people work at a particular company – a one-person practice can use this method just as well as top execs at a Fortune 100 company can.
If you have friends who are willing to help paint, ask them to help. Just make sure you provide some guidance (and maybe some Clearly Canadian). You’ll be surprised how much faster it goes.
P.S. As of today, Clearly Canadian has 59,133 likes on Facebook. I think they have a loyal tribe, don’t you?
P.P.S. If you work at Clearly Canadian and want to talk more, I’d love to chat. Please give me a call at (573) 268-4109.
P.P.P.S. If you like Clearly Canadian as much as I do, share this post along with the hashtag #ClearlyIsBack.