09/15/2014 12:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Uncommon Customer Experience

My mother used to say, "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want."

The greatest of marketing masters will tell you they've earned their stripes by learning from their biggest mistakes. At least that's what the honest ones will tell you. As marketers who must measure the metrics, we don't always get the results we want, so we learn our lessons and become a little smarter each time for the next. We take big leaps of faith, and try crazy ideas in order to stand out above the rest. When these ideas work, we become heroes. When our leaps result in belly flops, we become smarter -- except of course, when we don't.

Either way, every mistake is a gift bestowed upon you. These learning events are gifts for which you pay dearly, but they also bring us lessons one could never buy.

Today's consideration, however, is not about you, your mistakes, or the vast experience you may have accumulated throughout your career. No. Today is about the experience your prospects are gaining.

Unfortunately, learning from mistakes is also true for consumers. Every prospect you capture has been someone else's customer, and at some point in time, they did not get what they want. Otherwise, they would still be loyal customers of your competition. In fact, they were probably disappointed enough times, by enough other brands, that they have since become fully skeptical of your company and hesitant to trust your marketing. All they really want to get is what they are promised. In fact, they want you to want to give them what they are promised too. So, there is only one thing to do.

Keep your promises!

Good companies look to eliminate risks, break down barriers, create immediacy and so their marketers sweeten the deal with better pricing. Meanwhile, consumers instinctively assume the fine print of the special offers is somehow concealing a hidden "catch."

Better companies know their prospects are skeptical, and so they work hard to prove their credibility. Meanwhile, prospects suspect that the testimonials posted on the website are staged and scripted.

The marketplace is loaded with "step right up" incentives targeted at prospects that distrust these offers and do their best to stay at arm's length. The more prospects build walls and try to keep their distance, the harder marketers are working to convince them. When you've tried those tactics, you'll find that nothing speaks louder than good performance.

The best companies are uncommonly committed to keeping their word and delivering on their marketing promises. They are working to manage advocacy programs rather than scrambling to kick off another race-to-the-bottom price slashing sale or spending their time trying to triage another PR crisis.

Finally, when your prospects choose to trust you and become your customer, it is your ultimate mission to give them exactly what you promised. When you do, you create a new experience for your customers unlike most relationships they've encountered before.

As published in CU Insight, Sept 9, 2014