The Wisdom of Magic

Heriberto & Magic Johnson in Las Vegas
Last month, I went to a trade show in Las Vegas. While there were many highlights, meeting Magic Johnson was definitely one of them. As a keynote speaker, afterwards, he was swarmed with people wanting autographs and photos. This guy Heriberto asked me to take a photo...and I agreed...only if he promised to send me a copy. The photo arrived soon after. (Judging by the angle, it's obvious I'm much shorter than these guys!)

This weekend I'm attending another marathon conference, and I'm still thinking about the last one. Magic's advice resonated loud and've got to know your customer...and give them what they want
It sounds simple....Give the customer what they want.

What a novel idea!

And yet, since my meeting with Magic, I've taken the time to observe...who really delivers?
Case in point: In my office building there's a small "cafe"--selling quick breakfast and lunch items (cold sandwich fare, mostly.) Here, two half-full coolers flank the with Pepsi....the other with Coke. Thrown into the mix are a few random other drinks. One day I asked, "Do you have Red Bull?" The response was, "You know, we get asked for that all the time! Do you like regular or sugar-free?" It really didn't matter much. Because three weeks later, they still don't stock it.

Yes, I can buy my own drinks and keep them at work. But I'm lazy. And I'm willing to pay a premium because I didn't plan in advance. I'm okay with that. If only they'd stock it. Now I actually get in my car...and go somewhere else.

Amazon got it right.

Because of Amazon, I buy more books than I'll ever read.

Perusing their site, I look at a wide range of titles. Not only can I read a full description of the book and viewer's opinions, but I can also buy that same book new or used. Would you like hardback, softback, or audio? If I want to buy it later, that's okay. Amazon's got the solution: I can put it on my Wishlist. And after the purchase, I can track my shipment progress, and on occasion, I receive follow up e-mails.

Am I satisfied?

You bet!

My book buying frenzy often takes on colossal proportions and occasionally I'll forget if I already own a title. Not to worry. With Amazon, I can easily check my previously purchased file. Granted, I don't buy all my books at Amazon, but you can bet I buy MOST of my books there. Why wouldn't I? After hundreds of transactions, each one is handled flawlessly. Amazon knows what their customer wants....and they deliver.

When you put yourself in someone else's shoes, a whole new perspective opens up. This is the first step in bringing your A game.

The other day, I stopped by this Thai restaurant near my office. When the woman came to take my order, I greeted her in Thai. We spoke for a few minutes about my travels through Thailand, where she was from, and I received an incredible recommendation for lunch. When the food came, she brought me a large spoon. Smiling graciously, she gestured to the spoon, now resting alongside the pre-set fork. With a knowing nod, she said, "Like Thailand."

We exchanged huge smiles...and I thanked her, "Khawp khun kha."

At the tradeshow this weekend, I'll be on a fact finding mission. Not only am I looking to spread awareness about our publication, but I'm looking to have specific conversations with our clients. How do you use the magazine? Do you use the online site? Where do you get stuck? What can we do better?

Taking a cue from Magic, I've got a clear picture of my objective:

What does our customer want?

And how can I meet that need?