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Serving The "Irrational" Customer

Lately I've become addicted to Shark Tank, or should I say the family is addicted. It's the only show we all agree on, and with a passion.

Our favorite activity while watching the show is of course debating the viability of the products, after which we analyze the interaction between the hopefuls and the Sharks.

On last night's episode this guy came on with a great, three-wheeled scooter. For the first time ever since I've watched the show, Mark Cuban actually invested.


From the minute the guy rolled in on that thing my daughter and I were ecstatic. "That's a winner!" I exclaimed. "I totally love it." She said pretty much the same thing.

My husband was not sold. "What are you going to do with that thing?"

"Are you kidding?" I said. "I want it!"

"Since when have you ever, in your entire life, been interested in riding a scooter?" he asked.

"That is completely not the point," I answered. "I would definitely buy that thing, because I love it."

My daughter tried to explain, but the reason why she liked the thing weren't immediately apparent. "I would just want one," she said. "Mommy understands."

From where I was sitting, that three-wheeled scooter sold itself. I imagined myself riding it, free and young and happy.

My daughter said, "I can just see you with a cup of coffee, riding that."

"You will never use that!" said my husband. "Why would you waste $7,000 on that thing?"

On the show one of the sharks was explaining that maintenance was his question, how would people get replacement parts if they needed it.

Another shark was saying that there was no distribution or manufacturing plan in place.

A third said she could not see herself "adding value" to the acquisition process.

All of them initially rejected it - "I'm out."

Yet all of them agreed that the product was going to be a success eventually.

At the very end Mark Cuban had an interchange with the maker of the bike, who finally said something like, "If you know it's going to be a success why not invest in it?"

I could see - yes, I could see - the light go on in Cuban's eyes. He said something like, "You know, I just realized that all you really need is working capital. I don't have to know anything about this business at all."

And then, just like that - he changed his initial decision and made an offer.


Cuban happily got on the scooter and started playing with it.

It was clear to me that what changed Cuban's mind was not just a rational "risk-reward" calculation as he claimed. That was what he said, but no.

What he felt was an "irrational" stir of delight at the thought of owning a stake in that particular scooter. He got hooked.

Our job, all of us, is to tap into that sense of delight and make an income out of it.

You don't think you're a marketer? You are. Someone is paying you for what you do, right?

Peter Drucker said it best: "The purpose of business is to create a customer."

At the end of the day, the most important capacity we have is the ability to make another person happy.

We must stand in the customer's shoes.

We must tap into their emotional current -- the electricity that sets them alight.

Remember, adults are really children.

Given enough money, we will pretty much buy anything that makes us look good, feel good, or that leaves us with a happy memory.

A better image of ourselves.


All opinions my own. Photo by Alba Soler via Flickr (Creative Commons).