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   A business owner told me the title to today’s blog yesterday when I was in to see him.  He was frustrated because he was about to have a conversation with an acquaintance that bought an item he sells from an on line vendor, purportedly at 40% less cost than the business owner sells the same product.
    Here are the business owner’s frustration points:
  1. His acquaintance never talked to him about his purchase before he bought it on-line
  2. The acquaintance said that “he heard” that the business owner was “expensive”
  3. The acquaintance listened to “several other folks” who had heard the same thing
   The business owner asked how he might handle this matter.  Here is what we discussed—

A.  There is no   reason to go “viral” or negative with the acquaintance.  He bought the product on line and now has to live with his actions.  I suggested that he compliment him on his purchase, point out that his store carried similar products and say no more.
B.  We talked about discussing basic “market research” to find out the real reason why the acquaintance shopped on line as opposed to the local business owner.  Obviously, the acquaintance had some “buyer’s remorse” because he talked to the local business owner about his on-line purchase.  It is always good to do market research and find out what the real reason is to shop on-line, or at another competitor, when you have the same product available in your store.  Here, my key point was to find out what was going on.
  1. C.  The argument that “several other folks” had heard that the business owner was expensive is truly a red herring.  Why a red herring?  Well, were the products identical in shape, size, fit, function, form, construction, etc?  Just because it looks the same does not mean that it is the same.  You can always go to Wal Mart and find something cheaper than you can at the local hardware store– always.  What is different is that although the products look identical, the material, construction and composition may be very, very different.  The real answer is are you comparing Apples to Apples?  In most cases, the answer is NO, you are comparing Apples to Kumquats– which as any fruit farmer knows, is no comparison at all!
  3.      Customer education is the key to repeat business.  As sad as this story is, I look forward to hearing what the business owner learns from his conversation with his acquaintance.  As a business owner, keep market research in the forefront of your mind.  Always bear in mind what the customer perception is of your business.  How do you find this out?  Ask!!  Not only your customers, but folks on the street.  You might be amazed at what you learn.

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