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Educated Customers Mean Bigger Profits

Thom Winninger

Does this mean that only people who graduated with honors will be your best customers? Hardly! Today's successful business educates customers to expect that whatever we offer is the best. We offer the best in selection, service and integrated value.

Yet, how is it that customers know what to look for? Do they truly know how to shop for real value in an item, not just price? How do they know what to expect in a value versus price merchant? Education is the key! If the only way you are educating your customers is with a sign stating your best price, they can get the same introduction to math at the discounter down the street. The smart independent kitchen design dealer teaches his customer how to recognize a quality cabinet. Price becomes less of the focus when a client is on the lookout for dovetailed drawers and hand-rubbed finishes. Price becomes less of the focus when a customer finds someone who can truly design a special cabinet for her kitchen nook; not just a standard plan forced to fit.


One of the most important things any business can do is to teach customers how to value shop. It can be as simple as providing a chart to point out value versus price differentiation. Very early in our education experience we were taught the difference between apples and oranges. The basic lesson is still very applicable to business today. If you went to the grocery store in search of a nice tart, juicy apple, would you buy a tangy orange? Not if you knew the difference! Why is it then, that we allow our customers to buy the discount model when they truly want the very best their pocketbook can buy? Why give them an orange when they really want a shiny red apple? It is our job to teach them the difference! Teaching differentiation to your customers is not as difficult as it may sound. At its core, it teaches how to recognize quality and what to expect in the product and its dealer or supplier.

Thom Winninger
Thom Winninger
A well-known overhead garage door dealer has used an instruction chart that shows residential homeowners how to shop for an overhead garage door. Instructions include specific points that help customers understand how a quality door operates and what its specific features are. It points out safety requirements and what a customer should be able to expect in a reliable and safe door. A leading HVAC manufacturer, Carrier, actually provides written specifications for mechanical contractors who are shopping for their product.


If you are limiting your merchandising to price stickers, banners and signs, then you will fall far short of educating your customer into bigger profits. Do you provide comparison charting in your dealership that customers can study to learn what is required of a furnace? Are your floor displays set up with special signage pointing out the features that make up a quality dishwasher? Do your customers know what is not negotiable in the safety and reliability of a riding lawn mower? I find it hard to forget the displayed image of a ragged, broken down piece of luggage that has been through the bowels of dozens of airports and only has splitting seams and broken latches to show for it. Sitting next to it is the quality model supplied by a fine leather goods dealer. Although it may be scuffed up a bit, the seams are holding and the latch is secure. As a very frequent traveler, you can bet I want to know how to differentiate between a quality piece of luggage and a bargain bag. Have you made it easy for your cust omers to know how to recognize quality and value? Is your sales team knowledgeable themselves in all aspects of differentiation?

How does this translate to bigger profits? I know of a retail grocery store that prints a detailed meal-planning guide for customers to purchase. They know just what to buy for a daily meal. This means as an end result, increased sales from spices and seasonings to side dishes and desserts. The customer leaves the store with a sense of satisfaction that she has everything she needs for a complete and healthy meal and consequently, more items in her cart! Are your customers being educated in what to look for in a safe, reliable and quality item? Do they know what horsepower they should be looking for in a boat for family water-skiing and leisure? Although the items you sell or the services you offer cannot fit in a shopping cart, a business with educational, merchandising, a knowledgeable staff and a program to teach value shopping, translates to bigger profits for you as well when your customers leave knowing they got the apple they wanted and not an orange. In addition, it means they will be back to purchase with you again, because they have been educated to know that they can expect you to offer the best and . . . deliver!


Thom Winninger's market strategies have been featured on CNBC, First Business, Boardroom Reports, Venture and Success Magazine and over 300 other trade journals, publications, and newspapers. He is frequently referred to as America's leading Market Strategist and the man who is reinventing the way America captures market share.
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