Many of you know my life's path has taken a number of interesting twists during my time on this planet. Among other things, I've spent a lot of time in digital marketing but I've spent about the same amount of time in the DJ and event planning business. It was there that I learned a really solid lesson worth sharing. Don't be your own worst customer.
Today's lesson starts in the 1970s and features the group The Village People. I don't think there's anyone on the planet who hasn't heard the song YMCA by this group and people in far flung remote, uh, villages can probably do most of the follow-along dance that goes with the song.
Let's all pause while you do the YMCA right there at your desk. You know one of life's precious lessons is to dance like nobody's watching so go ahead.
Now that your coworkers are laughing, the real reason I started with the Village People is because of a phone call I made. You see, I wanted coffee.
I had a meeting with some people from "the big city" (I live in rural America) and we decided that a Sunday morning sit down with a cup of coffee from a place with wifi and a place to sit and talk was the best way to facilitate this. So I went to my good friend the Yelp app to see who's open Sunday morning and also has wifi.
Many of you who live in more populated areas are already thinking of Starbucks and we do have one of those up here in a supermarket but they don't have comfy couches or weird music at a slightly inappropriate volume level like a real Starbucks. Plus, I'd much rather support a locally-owned business so the money stays in the community.
There was only one place that even came close to what I was looking for but, according to the Yelp app, they opened at 10am. Seems crazy for a coffee place but we have another one in our town that doesn't even open on the weekends at all. After searching all over, we ended up at the Starbucks after all for reasons of proximity and convenience.
But the 10am opening for a coffee place really bothered me so I called them. It turns out that they do, in fact, open at 7am. They also have an outdoor seating area, although no wifi. So I told the team member who answers the phone that their Yelp listing indicated that they opened at 10am.
Her response was that she doesn't use Yelp anyway. Let that sink in.
So millions and millions of people including the huge number of tourists who visit our area who use Yelp including those who stay in our premier hotel just steps from this coffee place don't matter - what matters is this business owner doesn't use Yelp.
How does this related to the YMCA? Simple. For years and years I couldn't work at a party without playing the YMCA due to its popularity. For me I heard it every weekend and if I never ever ever hear it again it'll be too soon. So I took pride in not playing this overplayed (to me) song. Never mind what the customers wanted, somehow I took pride in not delivering what they wanted. Stupid, right?
It turns out I was my own worst customer. What the people paying me and their guests want wasn't my consideration, it was the fact that I had heard the song too many times. Fortunately I was smart enough to invite other DJs to audit my performance. This particular friend who audited my performance told me that I should realign my thinking as it doesn't matter what I do or don't want to hear at an event, it's all about about the guests and what they want to hear.
And so it's the same with the woman who owns this coffee shop. It doesn't matter that she doesn't use Yelp in her own life, it matters that millions of people including a huge percentage who patronize the hotel right up the street from her use it as a reference tool. So if her business is slower than she would like to be on a weekend morning perhaps I know why.
It's time to embrace the tools your customers and prospective customers wish to use. And, perhaps, occasionally listen to the YMCA as well.