Don't Assume You Know What Your Audience Wants

My friend, Vera Moore, launched her line of Vera Moore cosmetics at Duane Reed. It was exciting for her to get her product line in the New York City store next to Macy's. I stopped by to share in her celebration. I had just returned from a networking breakfast where the authors gave us two books. I was juggling my handbag, a small tote bag and these two books in my arms. The books were too big for the tote bag. It was cumbersome to say the least.

When I left Vera's cosmetic display, I noticed a table with a wheel in front of the store. People were lined up to spin the wheel to win a prize. The prizes were a Jersey Boys CD, a tee shirt, or some little souvenirs. If you didn't land on a prime spot you would get a plastic bag with a brochure. I really wanted the bag. The CD was good but I really needed that plastic bag to hold my books for my commute.

As I spun the wheel I was hoping it would not land on one of the prizes. In other words, for the first time in my life I was hoping to be a loser. And I got my wish! The needle landed on the white space and they gave the plastic bag as a consolation prize. I put my books in the bag and went on my way a lot happier and feeling a lot lighter.

What is the lesson here? How often do we think we know what the client or audience wants? We make decisions using our own criteria rather than what the audience values.
Why would anyone want a plastic bag as a prize? Because at that moment in time that was my most pressing need. I needed to free my hands.

A consultant friend had a client who paid him his entire fee in advance. He thought it was because of his good reputation and negotiation skills. He later discovered the real reason. The client told him that he always paid up front because then the company couldn't cancel his project.

People do things for their reasons, not our reasons.

Years ago a company decided to do business with me after looking over several proposals. I asked them why they chose me. I thought they'd say it was my training design or the price. I was stunned when they told me the reason. "We like you."
Wow! I hadn't considered that.

The next time you're preparing a presentation or going on a sales call, ask the audience what they want. You may be surprised by what you hear.