Marketers Are From Mars, Customers Are From Venus!


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The original title of the book this blog alludes to is ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’. The book provides practical advice how men and women can better understand each other and improve their everyday relationships as a result.

I am beginning to think about writing a similar book for marketers and customers. It is certainly long overdue. Just look at the huge number of stories of customer disservice from PC manufacturers, telcos, banks, you name it. It has got so bad that not only does everyone know of someone who has a service disaster story to tell, everyone has one of their own to tell as well.

A lot of these problems are built upon the different mental models of marketers and customers. As Vargo & Lusch point out in their ground breaking article on ‘Moving to the New Dominant Logic for Marketing’, most marketers see their job as to sell products. Value is created for the marketer at the point of transaction. Post-sale service is a profit-eating cost to be reduced. And whether the product delivers what it says on the tin is largely the customer’s responsibility. I see this attitude everyday in my consulting and interim work. Marketers are from Mars.

In contrast, as Tuli, Kohli & Bharadwa point out in their recent article on ‘Rethinking Customer Solutions: From Product Bundles to Relational Processes’, customers expect advice, assistance and help throughout the product lifecycle; in selecting the right product for the customer, in configuring it, in getting it up and running, in using it for the first time and in using it over the entire lifecycle of the product. Promises are sold to the customer at the point of sale, but value is only created during a lifetime of product usage. Post-sale service is not only critical to their relationship with the company, but in the mind of most customers, they have already paid for it when they bought the product. And customers expect the product to do what it says on the tin for some time in the future, not to breakdown a few weeks later. Customers are from Venus.

It is these different mental models of what was sold, what was bought and how that pans out over time that is at the heart of most of the customer disservice disasters that we read about, or these days, that we see on YouTube.

If a marketer explicitly said that they refused point blank to have anything to do with customers and the products they bought once they had the customers’ money, the customers would think there was something wrong with the product and no matter how cheap it was, would refuse to buy it. Even though marketers never say so, this is exactly how many of them behave once they have customers’ money.

What do you think? Are marketers failing to live up to their promises? Or are customers being unreasonable to expect long-term support once they have bought a product?

Further reading:

Vargo & Lusch’s on Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing

Tuli, Kohli & Bharadwaj’s paper on Rethinking Customer Solutions: From Product Bundles to Relational Processes

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Manager

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


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