Commercials, Customers, & Cake

November 28, 2023

photo of a waiting area in an airport with an airplane out the window

Dear Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Dreamers, and Creators of Great Things: I write these Love Letters each month with the hope of bringing you a little encouragement, some marketing help, and a few minutes of joy. Whether we are already friends or have yet to meet, I hope you’ll enjoy my stories from the road and some awesomely random takeaways, tools, tips, and updates.

What does your customer dream of?

All I bought on Black Friday was shampoo.

I read yesterday that in the US, shoppers spent nearly $10 billion in online sales alone on Black Friday this year. That is up nearly 8% over last year. (In-store sales rose just 1% over the previous year.)

The hustle and flurry of the shopping season has always been a little intimidating to me. I did it one year – the crazy stay up all night, wait in line, run into the store as soon as the door opened thing. (Fun fact, I was even on the news that day, in their video clip.) But that was many years ago, and I am not that willing to give up sleep anymore. But I am also at a point where I weigh want vs. need differently.

I have been talking with people a lot lately about want vs. need. Our customers weigh these options constantly. I was in Target the other day and I listened to a woman justify buying something to her friend. “I want it,” she said, “but I don’t need it. It would look pretty in my house, but it’s just more stuff. But it’s so pretty. I have just the spot for it, but I really shouldn’t buy it.” At this point, I was out of earshot, but I remember thinking, “All she really wants is for her friend to tell her to buy it.”

People don’t buy because of who they are. They buy because of who they want to become. That woman in Target wanted to become the kind of person who puts glass trees on her mantel during the holidays. She didn’t need that tree, but she wanted it.

What does this mean for you and your business? You have to talk to the person they want to become, not the person they are. The person they are is focused on what they need. But the person they want to become says, “I don’t need it, but it’s so pretty.”

When you are creating marketing messages this year, think about who your customer dreams of becoming. Talk to them. Make them feel something. Touch their hearts, not just their brains. This commercial is one of the BEST examples of this I have ever seen. It hits you hard and almost makes you forget it’s a commercial at all.

All I bought on Black Friday this year was shampoo. Because I want to become someone sensible who saves her money. But then I woke up two days later and saw a flight deal that would let me hug someone I haven’t seen in a long while, and I immediately bought plane tickets. So maybe I’ll start being sensible next year. xo

image with the words In the Rearview, lessons learned and stories from the road

Are you asking?

A few weeks ago, a story was published about a man who has accrued over 14 million frequent flyer miles on Delta. FOURTEEN MILLION. That is a crazy amount of travel.

The story went on to explain how Delta is using the feedback from this one customer to improve their passenger experience. They brought him into their headquarters and asked his advice on improving nearly every aspect of how they run their business.

Usually, companies hold focus groups, send out surveys, and seek input from dozens of diverse customers and experts. But Delta is making changes based on the feedback of one single person. It might seem a little nuts, and at the least, it’s unconventional.

But when you think about it, this customer has spent nearly 40 decades of travel being loyal to one airline. He’s spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on tickets, and countless hours on planes with Delta staff. Who better to give feedback on the customer experience?

This story made me think about the ways we seek feedback and testimonials from our customers. Often we wait until the transaction is over and then send a survey or a timid email asking for a few kind words.

But what if we asked our best customer to come sit with us and really tell us what they think? What if we let them tell us the good, bad, and the ugly about their experience? And then really listened? I bet we’d learn a lot.

Food for thought.

image of a record player with words saying rockstars, awesome ideas, people, and tools

This is where I share the good stuff.

… the latest websites, books, & tools that are inspiring me, the people who are making me smile, and the stuff I have been writing on sticky notes.

  • I talk a lot about being weird. (In fact, I have an entire keynote about it!) So it’s no surprise that I loved this post, outlining ten ways we can fight against normalcy. I dare you to incorporate some of these into your life and business this year!
  • Feeling a bit like there’s nothing good in the news lately? Maybe it’s time to gift yourself a subscription to The Goodnewspaper. Best money ever spent.
  • I have long been obsessed with the adventures of Sir Earnest Shackleton. (I write about him in my new book, We’re Gonna Need Cake; Celebrating Authentic Leadership in a Messy World, coming out in 2024!) This article was pretty fascinating if you are into nerdy adventure-type things. Or if you are into inspiring stories about never giving up. Either way, it’s a good read. (And keep an eye out for pre-order info about my book!)
  • Tis the season, friends. Please consider donating to your local food bank. It’s so important when we have more than we need, to build a longer table.
  • This little timer has become one of the best time management tools I have ever used. Put it on your desk, give it a spin and a tap, and get focused for 20 minutes. It’ll change your life.
  • Really loving this podcast lately.
  • New guilty pleasure TV show. (Are we still calling things TV shows these days?!)
  • Three small businesses that are creating beautiful things. Gift baskets! Cookies! Ornaments!


Thanks for reading, friends! If you want to get these in your inbox every month, be sure to get on the mailing list. And if you are looking for a speaker who will motivate your organization to get up, get moving, and face change head-on, I would love to chat.