Marketing tip # 32: People are like sheep

Shutterstock_10162630My agency, McLellan Marketing Group's, bank has a branch near our house, so I am usually the official "deposit the checks" guy at our company.

Like most bank drive throughs, they have a commercial lane on the far left and then several "everybody and anybody" lanes to the right of that.  The branch I go to is no exception.  Except that their drive through isn't straight — it's curved to the right.  

So already my car needs to be at an angle to reach the commercial window.  Add to that, they've installed a big pole so drivers don't get too close to the building and damage their cars or the building.

The net result of this is… their commercial window is a pain.  I can never get quite close enough to the drawer (even when it's fully extended) to comfortably put something in it or take out my receipt.  More than once on a windy day, the receipt has fluttered off and I have had to chase it through their parking lot.

We have banked at this particular institution for several years and I have probably been in that drive through a few hundred times.  Every time, I grumble to myself about how much I hate the drive through experience.  But, I endure it.

I take pride in the fact that I'm a bit rebellious.  That I don't always follow the path well taken.  That my 7th grade teacher told me I was incorrigible, even though looking back I am pretty sure she didn't mean it as a compliment.  My point being — I don't think of myself as someone who is afraid to question or disregard rules on occasion.

Which is why this story is embarrassing to tell.

The other day, as I yet again approached the drive through, FOR THE FIRST TIME, it occurred to me that I didn't need to use the commercial lane.  I could use any of the drive through lanes…and the rest of them are straight and utilize the tube/chute thing rather than a drawer with a paperweight in it.  

I pulled into one of the "everybody and anybody" lanes and had a lovely drive through experience.  Duh!

For years, years mind you, I have been gritting my teeth and enduring the frustrating lane.  All because it had a sign over it that said "commercial" and we're a commercial customer.

My point in telling you this story?

Human beings, even incorrigible ones, typically do as they're told.  We are all, even me, rule followers by nature.  We want to get it right.

From a marketing perspective — this is wonderful news.  Couldn't you use this truth in selling and improving the customer experience?  For example:

~ On your website, use this truth to control how people navigate through.  Use prescriptive commands on buttons to guide them exactly where you want them to go so they don't have to click around looking for something.

~In your bricks and mortar establishment — use signage and other prompts (Disney uses different colored walkways and other tricks) to drive traffic in the right direction and to show a customer when they've strayed off path.

~ In a B2B environment, using checklists and other guides to prompt clients to advance through a project faster and more accurately (good for you and for them).  

Bottom line — while it may not be the most flattering of human truths, the fact that people are a bit sheep-like can actually help you create a better (and maybe even WOM buzz worthy) experience for your customers.  

But, as in the case of our bank — you can also inadvertently create a bad experience too.  So…be mindful of the prompts you've already created.  Do some of them need tweaking?

 

 

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

5 comments on “Marketing tip # 32: People are like sheep

  1. Yhat anecdote really brought a smile to my face. I can just imagine you sat there, seething at the commercial window for all those years!

    I’m glad you’ve learned from it though, and that you’re passing that knowledge on to us.

  2. Andy,

    No one said I was the swiftest ship — it only took me a few years to consider breaking the “rules”!

    Drew

  3. John Papers says:

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article with us.

  4. Vinnie Vinson says:

    Drew, congratulations for finding a simpler way to do things. IF you can find a credit union to service your company properly, PLEASE become a customer. My needs are different, but I’ve had bad experiences with banks. I think most people would be happier if they became members of a local credit union.

  5. Thank you Drew! I appreciate your words of wisdome and inspiring me and my team to create http://www.swaggerspot.com and bluebayjobs.com we couldnt have done this without your expertise!!

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