Fatherly Advice

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My marketing hero was not a college professor or the marketing director of a Fortune 500 company. My marketing hero was my father. For over 30 years he marketed canned food products to independent grocery stores. As a young boy I would travel with him from store to store, setting up displays of canned goods. He would have me take a survey of the customers that selected his products from his display. He would have me record if the customer was male or female, guess their age, and if they had any other brand of canned goods in their cart. I was too young to understand the importance of the information he collected but I enjoyed the trips he won as being the top performing territory in the country.

The most important marketing advice I learned from him was at a grocery store in Hazard, Ky. He had just constructed a display of baked beans. There must have been 1,000 cans in front of a barn my mother had drawn for his baked bean ho down. They were priced at 6 cans for 50 cents or 10 cents each. A lady with four kids came up to the display. She said to my father, “I want to buy 6 cans to get the price but I only need 3 cans on my weekly grocery budget”. My Father told the women, “Take this paper with my name on it to the cashier. She will sell you 3 cans for 25 cents, and here is another piece of paper for 3 more cans at 25 cents for your next trip.” That was the reaction I expected from my father, but the words he spoke to me that day still ring true today. “What a customer wants is very important, but meeting their needs makes a customer for life.”

Meeting the needs of customers in good times and bad times is important for all retailers. Our customers’ needs have never been greater than in today’s economic environment. Here are a few examples:

  • We know you need a good night’s sleep after working that second job just to make ends meet! That’s why you can save an additional 20% off the sale price on our complete selection of mattresses!
  • You need to replace that washer that sounds like a cement mixer but you have no cash and can’t afford the interest charges on your credit card. That’s why we’ll pay all the interest charges for 2 years with a low monthly payment. You don’t even need any money down.

You get the idea….you are not holding a sale to just shove product down your customers’ throats. Think of it as benefit you are offering customers by meeting their needs, and you may just win a customer for life.


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