Types of customers & my reaction to them…Part 1

“Customer is King” 

Throughout my college days I have read this statement over and over again. I have read about how earlier it was “Business is king” and how it became “Customer is King”. Those days I used think that this new evolution was absolutely correct. Businesses should not be given any power and all the power should reside with the customer. Today I find myself contradicting this. We have given way too much power to the wrong customers.

Being in the front line of the company- Sales -I have seen different people with different kinds of behaviours. And of course, with different people, you have to behave differently. One day I lost my cool because of a certain customer and as a stress buster, classified these customers I’ve come across into 10 buckets. Let’s start with the most annoying buckets:

 1). I-have-a-disease-of-asking-for-discounts-even-if-it-costs-only-a-few-pennies

Profile: This person will typically be well-dressed, runs in the upper-middle class social circles, has polished communication skills, is a major extrovert, and most importantly, is financially well-to-do.

Behaviour: An item may cost a measly Rs.10 but they will still negotiate for a discount. I believe that the underlying thought here is that at some level this is related to their false sense of excellent negotiation skills. If they are able to get an unbelievable bargain, they feel proud of their ability to ‘negotiate’. 

My feelings towards them: Sweetheart, that’s nothing to be proud of. You have basically stripped the seller off his honest earnings and led him into a loss. Sure, not all businesses are honest but more businesses are genuine. As it is, due to the competition in the market businesses operate on narrow profit margins. These people view negotiation as a Game of Thrones battle between seller & buyer. These are the people who I absolutely detest and never want to associate with as a businesswoman.They are narcissists and think only about themselves. They don’t even consider what the market conditions are. I mean come on! Everybody deserves to make an honest living!

2). I-want-everything-but-don’t-want-to-pay-for-it

Profile: These people can be your everyday Joe. They are mostly your not-so-humble people. You can find them across middle-middle class to lower-high class. These people are extroverts and have a decent sized social circle with one or two ‘VIPs’. Oh and they also have this false sense of societal position. And these people are the ones who constantly cry about how ineffective the government is. And don’t pay taxes.

Behaviour: These folks do most things to show off to their social counterparts. They want the sun and moon but don’t want to get burnt in the process. They want to look rich but want their bill to look like a small roadside purchase. 

My feelings towards them: The first thought that pops up in my mind is to make them run my business for one week. They don’t realize what the business has to endure to give them all this. Just last week a customer told me he wouldn’t pay for the additional valet service he insisted on. Like WTF?! Because valet drivers don’t need to earn a meal?! Why don’t these people understand that the economy flourishes only when you pump in money? 

 3). Even-if-I-can-afford-this-I-will-use-my-connections-to-get-a-discount

Profile: These are generally your upper-middle to higher class folks who have made widespread connections over the years. They have a more than healthy bank account, eat in gourmet restaurants, go on international vacations, etc. 

Behaviour: BUT when it comes to paying for something, if they know someone who knows someone else who owns/runs the business they are paying for, they WILL use it. They will casually throw in the statement to the salesperson, “Is Mr.Owner-whose-first-name-I-happen-to-know in office today?”. They will first negotiate with the salesperson and when the salesperson reduces his quote and gives the final number, this person will say, “Okay, I’ll talk to Mr.Owner-who-I-don’t-know-personally-but-will-somehow-get-it-reduced.” Eventually even if the owner-given discount is a measly 2-3% they’re content.

My feelings towards them: Do you have any idea how small a person you look in front of the salespeople and the business owner when you do this? Anybody who pulls this nonsense in front of me gains my disrespect. You’re negatively proportional to your bank balance dude. 

To be continued……

Sunayana Sen

Marketing Gyaan #1

You know how smart people say that you learn more while on the job than you do in the classroom? They are absolutely correct. (Read carefully you MBA-crazed robots.) I figured this out for the first time in my first year at Facebook and this week once again I realized that my decision to work instead of jumping into an MBA immediately after college was a really good decision I made. Anyway, I thought that I would share some of the marketing gyaan a.k.a knowledge that I receive from various avenues.

The first gyaan that I want to share is about hoardings. In my current job as the marketing head, I have to consider multiple things such as media channels, investment in each channel, ROI, schedule, etc. My company is launching a new property and this month onwards we will start a marketing campaign. And I had to look for hoardings in key locations for this. So the other day I took the car and driver and drove all around the property noting down hoardings that I liked and taking photos of them. This is the first time I’ve ever had to do this so obviously I didn’t know how to do it and what factors to consider. So I called my Marketing Director a.k.a my father and got some valuable gyaan on this topic from him. Here’s a list of factors to consider when choosing a hoarding:

  • The obvious factor to consider is the eyeballs that it can gather. It has to be in a prime location, some place that has  mid to heavy traffic.
  • Hoardings should ideally be on the left side of the road (For countries where it’s right-side steering). Because you drive on the left side it’s easier to view. Also in case there’s a high divider or trees or a flyover in between the two sides, hoarding on the right side will be hidden.
  • The elevation (height) of the hoardings should neither be too low nor too high. If it’s too low, you can view it only from a few feet away. If it’s too high, your info needs to be in massive letters which means you are left with little space for other info. It should be in the middle- it should be visible from a distance and have just the right amount of info.
  • If you can place a hoarding at a signal, there’s nothing like it. When people are driving, they have barely a second to look at a hoarding. But when they’re waiting at a signal, they have enough time to take in the info.
  • The orientation- horizontal or vertical -also is a thing to consider. If you already have an ad creative then your choice of hoardings becomes limited due to the orientation. In my case we decided to pick the hoardings first and design the creative later.
  • Illumination is a relatively recent addition to outdoor media. While hoardings with illumination are generally more expensive, it’s worth it because it’s visible even at night so you don’t miss out on the rush hour traffic post sun down.
  • And finally, it’s not wise to fill the hoarding with content. Like I mentioned above, people can barely focus on a hoarding for a second while driving so filling it with too much content will put them off. The ad has to be succinct, visually attractive and easy to recall.

I’m sure there are marketing folks out there who are more knowledgeable than me about this so would love to hear your thoughts on this. Keep those comments coming!


P.S.: I’ve included a couple of examples of good and bad hoarding I came across.

There's way too much information on this hoarding and not enough time to take it all in.

There’s way too much information on this hoarding and not enough time to take it all in.

While I hate that I chose a TRS hoarding, this is an example of a good hoarding - good height, illuminated, simple and to the point.

While I hate that I chose a TRS hoarding, this is an example of a good hoarding – good height, illuminated, simple and to the point.