Yesterday I watched a woman squirm as she was being upsold two post-treatment skincare products priced at $300 by her beauty therapist. Think about the context here. She’d just spent an hour with the therapist, giving her permission to ask questions others can’t ask and allowing her to touch parts of her others never see. The client’s vulnerability is laid bare in a treatment room. This is a high trust situation. The therapist leaves her to dress and then meets her outside waiting to take payment—this is when the switch happens.
“These are the two post-treatment creams I want you to use. They will accelerate the results of your treatment today.” the therapist says, sliding two sleek boxes, minus price tags across the counter towards the client. It’s embarrassing to ask the price of the creams or to admit she’s not sure she wants them, especially when they are positioned as required and not optional. Yes, the therapist had permission, she earned the privilege to speak to the customer—then she promptly went and abused it, betraying all the trust she had worked so hard to obtain.
Even us marketers sometimes find marketing slightly distasteful because we know we’re not always doing things that are in the customer’s best interests—things we’re not proud to have done. We know in our heart of hearts when we’re treating people in ways we would find disingenuous, irritating or embarrassing if the shoe were on the other foot. And yet we take the shortcut to the sale instead of the long way round to mattering.
Like the two-sided coin, every moment is an opportunity to choose the right thing over the easy thing. If you’re reading this I know which one you’re shooting for.
Image by Mislav Marohnić.