Marketing lessons for small business from The Duck Song:

The Duck Song is a three minute illustration of how quickly a prospective customer relationship can go wrong. When I first watched this video, I missed the glaring small business lessons that are apparent throughout, particularly the interaction between the man and his potentially loyal customer. After watching it multiple times – don’t judge me, the tune is rather catchy – I realized the man reacted very typically to most small business owners and I found four marketing lessons every small business owner should learn if we want to build a loyal customer base.

1. You’re only in business if someone is buying what you’re selling.

If every day your customers ask you for things you don’t have and in turn refuse to buy what you do have, you should reassess your product offerings, or at the very least, integrate what your customers want into what you’re offering.

The customer wasn’t asking the owner to change what he was offering, he just wanted him to offer something else. The owner of the stand missed an opportunity to nurture the relationship with an obviously loyal and persistent customer.

2. Listen to your customers

Small business owners need to learn that you’re only in business if someone is buying what you sell; we become so married to what we offer, that we don’t listen to what our customers want. The customer wants grapes, give him grapes. An easy way to be sure you’re selling what your customers want, is to ask them. Do a test trial of your product and get customer feedback before staking your entire business on a product that nobody wants.

Don’t insist on hard-selling your product. Instead, validate your customer’s needs. Ultimately, the customer needed lemonade, but until he felt heard he wasn’t in the mindset to listen to what the business owner was saying. Listen to your customers and they’ll tell you when they’re ready to buy what you have to sell, or they’ll tell you that what you’re selling nobody wants. Both are valuable lessons.

3. Always go above and beyond

As small business owners, we can get so stubborn about what we sell that we will actually send customers to a competitor instead of going above and beyond to make someone happy. The owner left his own business unattended to walk a potential customer over to the competition to give him what he wanted. What a perfect “above and beyond” customer service opportunity. Instead of leaving his own store, why not keep a special stash of grapes behind

“Do you have any grapes?”

“Not usually, but since you’ve asked before, I got some especially for you,” would have been a great answer. And when the customer decided on a whim that he didn’t want grapes after all, but in fact he does want some of your lemonade, you’re golden.

4. People buy People, not things.

Even after the threat of bodily harm, the potential customer was still willing to give the business owner a shot at delivering what he wanted. This shows us that if you’re likable enough, you have to try pretty hard to lose customers.

What other small business lessons did you learn from watching this customer interaction? Have you ever had a customer continue to ask you for products or services you don’t offer? How did you handle it? Share your answers in the comment box below.

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