My father has many charming qualities – chief amongst them his uncanny dad-joke humor and his unmatched mental Rolodex of people he’s met – but one of his, ahem, less redeeming quirks is his refusal to eat anything green.*
My dad’s brain equivocates the color green with “healthy,” and since he’d never reach for healthy foods like lettuce or kiwi on his own volition, the prospect of eating green food is simply a non-starter for him. And while there’s no agreed-upon scientific reason to explain such culinary pickiness (scientists are torn between genetics and upbringing – of course), the news isn’t all bad for those who serve picky eaters (or picky consumers in general, for that matter).
So what does that have to do with business?
Think about the choices that you make as a consumer. What makes you reach for the Skippy instead of the Jif? Opt for Caribou over Starbucks?
While my eyes don’t avert every time I see a gorgeous kelly green scarf or a pair of mint leather earrings, my brain does make certain choices – toward and away from – products and services in the marketplace. And I’m willing to bet my favorite pair of leather earrings (it’s these, if you’re curious!) that your brain does this, too.
We all have some picky tendencies, friend, and instead of lamenting them, I’m going to show you one BIG reason why picky eaters – and picky customers – are good for your business.
Picky Customers Make You Work Hard For Their Business (Which You Should Be Doing Anyway)
When I think of picky customers, the image that comes to mind is my Grandpa Bill. From the time that we were young, we grandkids knew that the garage was his church, where he went to think and to reflect and to occupy his mind. When our green Dodge Intrepid made its way to his house, we often found him sweeping out his garage or organizing his tools, all to the soundtrack of “oldies country,” the likes of Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and Charlie Pride.
By putting hours of care and attention to fine-tuning his garage, Grandpa Bill showed us rowdy grandkids how to respect his space, and so that’s what we did. We knew that time spent with him involved quieter, more controlled movements (no twirling or ball-bouncing in his garage), and we were willing to do whatever it took to spend time with him, despite the extra effort required. (Grandpa’s promise to share sticks of gum if we behaved certainly helped!)
In fact, that’s a perfect example of the opportunity and the responsibility that we as business owners possess: in order to serve ALL of our customers well – regardless of their picky quotient – we should be willing to work HARD, despite the extra effort required.
Good news for YOU: the vast majority of your audience won’t even be in the running for PICKIEST. CUSTOMER. EVER. In fact, your audience likely is YOUR audience because they like YOU or some extension of you – your brand, your product or service, your hairstyle or kids’ names or floofy dog (funny, but true!).
So what I’m saying is this: you may have to work hard to get the picky customer in your metaphorical door, but you’re doing the work anyway for the rest of your audience. Keep going.
Picky Consumers Are Brand Loyal
Imagine that you’ve won a ridiculously cool product through one of those far-fetched, they’ll-never-pick-me giveaways on Instagram. And the product you won is THE. BEST. THING. EVER.
This BEST. THING. EVER. has made you a forever and fervent convert – never will you go back to your old THING. No, you’ve moved on to this new THING, and it’s all you’ll buy for the rest of time.
That’s EXACTLY what it’s like for picky customers. Once the ideal (and yes, picky) client finds and interacts with YOUR business – the business that’s been painstakingly created JUST FOR THEM, to solve their unique problems and challenges – they’re yours for the long haul.
This idea is echoed by scientific researchers who study picky eaters. According to Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia who specializes in food preferences in humans, says that for the pickiest among us, the unexpected is an unwise risk, so folks tend to stick with what they know.
MORE good news: once you’ve worked your magic to introduce a customer to your brand, your product or service, and who YOU are – the personal and unique aspect of your business that intrigues, entertains, and educates a customer again and again – even the pickiest consumer can become one of YOUR most loyal clients.
There you have it: two BIG reasons that your pickiest customers make YOUR business better. They make you work hard to earn their business (which you should be doing anyway!), but they reward you in the end with strong brand loyalty.
Now, tell me…what’s one thing YOU have learned from your pickiest customer? Share with me in the comments!
* My Dad’s notable exceptions to the green food rule: green beans, which are about as “meat and potatoes” as life can be, and his daily Mountain Dew (eww).