Why We Must Drive Consumer Success
Four Star Greenhouse's Tom Smith reflects on the late Steve Jobs, how Apple made its customers successful with its products and how we can do the same for ours.
December 8, 2011
I've been thinking a lot about Steve Jobs lately, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
I think about the wonderful products he created that changed our world. I remember him talking about how important it was for his customers to be successful with his products. It's easy to be successful with Apple products because they're designed to be that way.
I see my 91-year-old father and my 84-year-old mother easily navigate an iPad. You hear stories of 1-year-olds doing the same. My favorite story is about parents who noticed their baby swiping a page in a book and clearly expecting the picture to change. Does that define making customers successful with a product? We know it does.
Where Our Industry Fails
I also think about how often our industry fails to do what Apple has done. We become overly focused on price and lack focus on how to make our customers successful. What if Steve Jobs made computers and other products that were only easy to operate by technically sophisticated people like himself and his employees? If he had done that, we'd have never heard of him.
But I see that mistake being constantly made in our industry. We strive to provide our customers with the cheapest product possible, and in doing so we fail miserably to understand the obvious. We don't help our customers or recognize that many of them lack the gardening sophistication
to keep plants alive.
While we all love the idea of people overcoming failure and after great sacrifice achieving success, let's get real. We're talking about flowers here. If a customer fails, how many times are they going to try before they give up and go on to something else?
And when they give up, we've lost a customer for life. Can we afford to lose one customer this way? How about our customer who buys a few plants with limited expectations of success? What if we could change that expectation? I know our sales would soar. A high tide raises all boats. We'd all do better.
An Approach To Consider
At Four Star Greenhouse, our approach has always been to get the best plants for consumer success. We strive to make things simple and successful for our consumers. We grow the best plants we can find, and our growers deliver them to the point of sale in a healthy, vigorous state. While we focus on controlling costs and optimizing profit for our growers and retailers, we do not sacrifice quality.
We also discovered it's more than just the plants. To ensure our customer's success, we invented a creative approach that integrates simple growing instructions, Proven Winners branded potting soil and fertilizer, and Water Wise kits that are easy and fun for our customers to assemble and enjoy.
Our focus is not on being the cheapest; it's on making our customers happy and successful. A successful customer is a customer who will come back time and time again. They will walk past the cheap plants to confidently replicate their winning formula.
We should thank Steve Jobs for pointing out the obvious: We must make our customers successful. When we can provide products that make our customers happy and successful, they will keep coming back for more.
Tired old marketing strategies lead to predictable and unsatisfactory results.
Remember, there is a reason why people wait outside Apple stores for days to get the newest Apple products. They can't wait to be successful - a business lesson we can all learn and embrace.