How do you hook customers? By getting specific

Brightly colored soap bars.

Rather than offer “any of these will work,” try to find out more specifics from customers. Ask questions until you can make a more specific recommendation. Photo by Chris Parfitt.


A small business lost their chance because they didn’t get specific.

I was looking for shampoo in bar form. (It’s great for travel.) I did some research on my own, and I talked with friends online to get their recommendations. A friend on Twitter introduced me to a small soap maker.

I asked the soap maker about her shampoo bars. “Any of our soap bars work as shampoo,” she tweeted back to me. That answer failed to capture me. I went on with my research and ultimately bought from a different soap maker that offered a wide range of choices, each with specific advantages.

I want to think I’m special. We all do. I want to find the solution that’s right for me. I don’t want just any soap. I want a shampoo bar specifically for my hair type to use when traveling. Sure, the shampoo I bought will work for lots of people besides me. But the specific details are what sold me.

How could the first soap maker have hooked me? By asking questions.

She could have asked about my hair type, why I wanted a shampoo bar or even whether we have hard or soft water. Then, based on the answers, made a specific recommendation. She might even say, “You’re lucky, almost any of our bars will work for you. I recommend….”

You know more about what you offer than I do. But I know more about me than you do. You have to ask me questions to be able to make a recommendation specific enough to capture me.

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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