50 Million First Dates

[Our guest blogger is Cool Friend Steve Yastrow. Find out more about Steve at Yastrow.com.]

You have shopped at a local clothing store for twenty years, visiting the store about five times each year. Today, you walk in the store again—it's your 101st visit. A sales clerk approaches you and asks, "May I help you?"

In the 2004 movie, 50 First Dates, Henry (Adam Sandler) and Lucy (Drew Barrymore) meet, have a great first date, and plan to see each other again. But the next day Lucy acts like she doesn't know Henry. Lucy has a short-term memory loss problem, so each day is a new "first date," in which Henry has to attempt to rekindle the relationship.

Most people think of 50 First Dates as a romantic comedy. Not me. I think it is a business movie.

Isn't this what it is like to do business with most companies?

You can be a long-time customer of retail stores, restaurants, dental offices, and all other sorts of businesses, and still be greeted as a stranger each time you walk in.

We live in a "land of plenty," where it is increasingly difficult to differentiate your company solely on products and services. Want a customer to think you are different? Help her focus on her relationship with you, not just on your products, and she'll think you are unique in a meaningful way. Relationships are the best differentiators available in our crowded, competitive marketplace.

A relationship is like an ongoing conversation with a friend; each time you talk, you are able to pick up where you last left off, enabling each conversation to be a relationship-building encounter. If you have to reintroduce yourselves each time you meet, like Henry and Lucy, your relationship will go nowhere.

How many businesses focus on creating an ongoing conversation with you, as their customer? How many times, as a customer, do you feel like you're in 50 First Dates?

How well does your company create ongoing conversations with customers? Does your organization suffer from Lucy's memory problems? Do you go on thousands—or millions—of first dates every year?

Steve Yastrow posted this on October 6, 2009, in Branding.
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