Approach your customers like children
Why you should approach your Customers like children - short attention span, rather than taking a cognitive approach to learning by learning rules, offers, content, they need a behavioural kind of inducement to stimulate a positive desired result.
Over the usual family gathering over the weekend, my mother introduced a board game for the kids (mostly for my 6 year old niece, Zara) called - Trouble! After settling down after a lovely lunch, the table was cleared to prepare ourselves for the game at hand.
I then proceeded to "attempt" to calmly & slowly explain the rules and the concept of the game to my niece. However, she has an attention span of a goldfish... She is easily distracted by everything around her and gave me the impression that she was interested to listen, but did not truly want to hear anything. The idea about the game excited her, and she just wanted to get on with the game. The thought process of learning about the game did not excite her and she soon lost interest, and proceeded to interact with the playing pieces, her necklace, touching and feeling the board etc...
At this stage, I almost gave up hope in educating her on the importance of learning, sitting still and paying attention. But then, my brother in-law chimed in and proceeded to just start the game.
To my bemusement, Zara was slowly able to comprehend and grasp the concept of the game by immersing herself in the playing environment, interacting with the other player (her father) and progressively learning along the way.
10 minutes in, and it appeared that she had mastered the art & function of the game that was truly intended to be played, but more importantly enjoyed.
WHAT WAS MY LESSON HERE?
1) Not everyone learns things the same way - one person may be better at listening and reading to learn, whilst others are better at just jumping in and getting "hands on, practical experience"
2) Instead of making assumptions over what is right, or what is wrong, observe your subject (my niece in this instance) and gauge what she wants to do, how she reacts to stimuli provided to her etc...
3) Patience is important to see the desired results, but sometimes you just need to get right into it and go with the flow and see how that goes.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MARKETERS?
We think that we know what's best for customers. We shove a large magnitude of information, advertising, promotions and content, trying to cause a positive desired result. Stop trying to change the way they think - instead, engage with them and get them to learn by themselves - guiding them along the way.
Your customers may not know what they want or need, and it is your duty to guide them through the consumer purchase decision making process. It may not necessarily be the path that you have chosen, but as long as the end result is acquired, learn, be agile in your future approaches, and no two customers are the same.
But more than anything, make sure they have some fun along the way.