Are You Blaming Your Consumer For Your Own Bad Business Practices?
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Are You Blaming Your Consumer For Your Own Bad Business Practices?

– Wow, look at that view. Welcome to the Bahamas. It is so easy to blame our consumer when we see revenues slide or marketing results fall off suddenly. We hear things like, “Consumers demand free shipping these days and it’s killin’ us.” Or we hear, “Consumers just want a cheap product these days. They’re killin’ us on this price thing and in an Amazon world, we gotta reduce our prices if we wanna even compete.” My favorite one is, “We gotta keep our content short, our marketing short, people have the attention span of a goldfish.” In every industry, for every business, we hear these consumer driven excuses. And here’s the thing, before we blame our consumers, we need to take a hard look at our own business practices. So in this week’s Loyalty Loop, we are going to take a look at one giant consumer excuse I’ve heard in one industry over and over again for more than a decade. And I’m gonna let you decide if it’s the business to blame or the consumer we should blame. I am also going to give you a three step prompt response you can use any time you hear someone in your organization blaming the consumer. All of that and more on this episode of the Loyalty Loop from right here in the beautiful but windy Bahamas. All right, it’s pretty windy down here at the beach so I’m actually gonna head up to the pool. If you wanna head up to the pool with me. I actually don’t have any idea where I’m going. This place is really big. (upbeat music) All right, here’s the deal, I found a nice quiet spot by the sanctuary pool so we can talk about some real issues. Because in the publishing business, there is one excuse I hear all the time, “People don’t want print
magazines any more. They just want everything digital. They won’t even pay for a print magazine and it is killin’ us.” And they’re not wrong, I mean, these print publishers are watching their print
subscriber base drop every single year for sometimes as long as a decade. And this is the evidence they have to support the argument that consumers don’t want print publications any more. Hold on, I have to go
get something for you. Hold on, I’ll be right back. (bright music) All right, I got it. Now, we live in Boca Raton, Florida and we pick up Boca Magazine any chance we get. We read it religiously. It’s always on our coffee table. And whenever we’re looking
for something to do, we dive into the magazine. When we want to try something new, we dive into the magazine. So when we received this little postcard in the mail, I was inspired to subscribe to the print magazine. You see, you can fill out this little card and like, mail it in. Look, we live in an internet era so I decide to follow their internet subscription instructions. Let me read ’em to you. For faster service, you can visit us online at and enter code HOL 19W. All right, let’s do that. And my friends, here’s where the trouble begins. You see, I head right to and I, for the life of me, cannot find a way to subscribe to the print magazine. Maybe I’m a moron but I see, like, memberships and exclusive deals. I don’t want either of those. I want a print subscription
to the magazine. I find this page where you hit, like, magazine and you can see all of the covers of the
magazines that I want but can’t subscribe to. And for some reason, I keep finding myself back at this exclusive deals
page every single time. I cannot find a way to subscribe. It’s not in the footer, It’s not in the main menu. Oh, wait. There it is. See that teeny tiny little magazine with a very blurry subscribe now written at the very bottom of a very little busy image. You click that. Look, if you just mailed out a very special offer, shouldn’t you make it fast and easy for me to subscribe. I mean, shouldn’t you
make it really obvious where I’m supposed to click. And here’s Loyalty Loop lesson number one, remove the friction. Before you start blaming the consumer, have you taken the time to remove the friction after every moment of inspiration. You see, you’ve gotta get me from my moment of inspiration to my moment of commitment as fast as possible. Are you doing that? Just because it’s a best practice or industry standard, doesn’t mean it’s the way it should be done for the consumer of today. Okay, look, so I’ve got to the subscribe page and I start fillin’ out the form fields. It’s a long form, cause it’s, you gotta put in your address and all that stuff. No big deal, I expect this. Now, I get to the bottom of the page where it says enter your code. I enter the code and wait a second, boom. Code not found. I check the postcard. It says HOL19W. That’s the code I entered, all caps. What! Yep, I just filled out a ton of fields. Used the promo code that I got on this postcard which they spent money to send and I got code not found. Code not found. So here’s what I did. I decided not to subscribe
to Boca Magazine. I gave up. And here’s Loyalty Loop lesson number two. Embrace the beginner’s mind. I’ve come to believe that when we resort to
blaming the consumer, it’s because we know too much about our business and our industry. We start assuming things. Like we assume the business is working the way it’s supposed to work. We assume that we know
more than the consumer ’cause we’ve been in the
business a long time. We assume that this is way other people are doing it so we should do it this way too. We blame the consumer when we believe we’ve done everything we can to win over the consumer. You see, if somebody at Boca Magazine had embraced the beginner’s mindset, the minute they saw one of these postcards on their desk, they would have opened the postcard as if they’d never seen it or read it before and they would have followed their consumer’s gut instinct, a moment of inspiration and gone on the journey that that consumer’s gonna go on. They probably would have figured out that it’s really hard to find a place to hit
the subscribe button for their magazine and they probably would have figured out really quickly with one of the proof postcards that the code is not working. You know too much about your business. You know too much about your process and you know too much about your industry. Your best weapon is your beginner’s mind. And if you can’t embrace it, that’s okay. Go find someone who’s never seen this postcard before, never been to your website and ask them to read the postcard and just show you what they’d do if they wanted to subscribe. Watch them go through the process. Watch how tough it is for them to subscribe to your magazine. You’ll learn a ton about what you can fix before you start blaming the consumer Now, in fairness to Boca Magazine, I should point out that a few days after
I had entered the code, I tried it again, just to test it and it worked. Yay. But I still didn’t subscribe because all I did was test the code and I didn’t feel like filling out the rest of the form. How many subscribers like me do you think Boca Magazine missed out on on the one hour or one day or three days that the code didn’t work before someone realized it. Was it dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands? And when that executive looks at the return on investment for this postcard campaign, you know what they’re gonna do? They’re gonna blame the consumer. They’re gonna say things like, “People these days, they just don’t wanna print publication. They won’t pay for it any more.” Yep, they’ll blame the consumer again. This is just a vicious cycle. And here’s Loyalty Loop
lesson number three. Stand up for the consumer. Any time you hear someone
in your organization blaming the consumer, I want you to follow this simple three prompt
process with them. Number one, acknowledge they’re right. You know, look, consumer behavior has changed a ton in the last 10 years, five years, two months. You may think something like, “You’re right, Debbie. Consumer behavior has changed a ton in the last two years”. Number two, float a possibility. Ask them if it’s possible that the rate of consumer change has outpaced our ability to change with them. You might say something like, “Debbie, is it possible that consumers have changed
faster than we have?” And then number three, And this is the most important part, invite them on a journey. Invite them to work with you to make some small changes fast to catch up with the consumer. You might say something like, “Hey Debbie, would you be willing to spend a few minutes to work with me to find some ways that we can make some small changes fast to catch up with the consumer of today.” And if the answer to those last two questions is yes, all you have to do is remember Loyalty Loop lesson number one and number two from this episode. Number one look for opportunities to remove friction between the moments of inspiration and their moments of commitment. And two, embark on the journey with a beginner’s mind. Okay, my friends, next week we’re gonna be in Boise, Idaho. It’s gonna be a lot colder than this so we’re gonna soak up the sun and we’re gonna work on another episode of the Loyalty Loop so don’t forget to subscribe right now if you don’t want to miss next week’s episode. It’s gonna be a lot of fun and you’ll get every single episode of the Loyalty Loop before anyone else in the world. For now, take a few minutes to do a little self reflection. When’s the last time you blamed the consumer. We’ve all done it. No one’s immune to it. I’ve done it. Next time, before we blame the consumer, let’s do a little self reflection. I’ll see you next week in my Loyalty Loop. Maybe I’ll actually get a pen and fill out this, the analog card, and see if I get a subscription because I can get one year for only $24.95 and give a gift at no additional cost. (tropical music)

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