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by Brian Gracon


You know there’s no “I” in “team,” but there is a “me” in “customer!” Customers buy based on “What’s in it for me?”, but what are they looking for these days when making their buying decisions?

From luxury cars to tattoo parlors, from gourmet coffee shops to spas and salons, from amusement parks to cosmetics, many companies were recession-proof and strong today. These companies used growth strategies based on the new consumer buying habits, habits you can leverage in your business.

Extensive research revealed three strategies fueling much of this growth: (1) help a customer define or reinforce their self-image, (2) provide entertainment through your products, services or shopping experience, and/or (3) pamper the customer to make her feel special. By using these same strategies, you can also tap into these new buying habits.

Let’s explore these three strategies in areas where your business touches (and influences) your customers: your marketing, selling and staffing (specifically, hiring, training and coaching).


Focus on consumer emotional wants and needs states. Instead of asking customers to “think hard” about physical features and warranties, invite them to “think soft” about personal and emotional benefits in your marketing.

Check your marketing for an appeal to your target customer’s self-image. Of course, make sure you understand which self-images those are.

Convey how your offering or customer experience will be fun or easy (at least more fun or easier than your competitors).

Communicate how you value the uniqueness of your customers and will pamper them. Affirm with customers that they are special, will be treated special, and that your offering is special too.

Audit your current marketing for the three strategies – self-image, entertain and pamper. If you are having a difficult time finding any of the lenses in your marketing, that can still be good news. You’ll have many opportunities to improve your marketing and your business!


Your sales process needs to deliver on the customer expectations created by your marketing. The following companies and their sales processes teach us about selling to today’s customers using the self-image, entertain and pamper strategies:

  • Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle has gained international recognition (and a lot of sales) because employees throw fish around as part of their sales process. (entertain)
  • Lexus of North Miami offers customers complimentary Club Lexus service. Customers can choose an onsite manicure, health club session, massage, pedicure, or hair styling while their cars are being serviced. (pamper, self-image)
  • When you enter a Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurant, every employee in the place calls out “Welcome to Moe’s”. Then they give personal service by customizing your order. (self-image)

When you look at your sales process from the customer’s perspective, do you see enhanced self-image, entertainment, and pampering? How can you add those elements to your process to make buying from you better than buying from a competitor?


Do you hire, train and coach your staff so they have the skills necessary to provide these customer experiences?

When you hire new staff, consider the typical self-images of your customers and make sure your staff is comfortable working with those self-images.

Broaden the list of places you look for new staff to include places that typically provide great customer service.

Ask your training providers how they can incorporate these three strategies into their training, and make sure the training provides opportunities to practice these new skills.

Participate in staff training so you know what they have been trained to do. Then, develop a coaching playbook so you know what to do whether confirming or corrective feedback is needed. (Ask the trainer to help you develop the playbook!)

The above integrated set of marketing, selling and staffing strategies can help you satisfy today’s customer needs and sell as if you had multi-million dollar marketing budgets like luxury car manufacturers, gourmet coffee shops, and amusement parks!

About the Author:

Brian Gracon has 20 years of experience as training and marketing consultant serving the flooring industry and is the author of “Meconomics® 101.” You can learn more about these strategies in his TISE 2017 education session “Even More Growth Strategies the Big Boxes Don’t Want You to Know About.” Brian will also present a session overview on October 20 at 2:00pm CDT as part of the TISE Webinar series. For more information, visit