I couldn’t figure out why my polite offer made them grumpy with me

by | Aug 14, 2020

Just after I moved to Ireland I got a job in a cheese shop. A few weeks into the job, I noticed I was having the same confusing interaction with several different customers.

It would occur just after I had prepared their cheese for them.

…Slight pause here to say I know what you’re thinking. I’ve worked in more than one cheese shop and been subjected to the joke more than once. But I am a grown up, after all, so…

It would occur just after I had cut the cheese for them. (That wasn’t so bad.)

Everything would have been friendly up to this point.

Then things would take an unexpected turn.

I would be just about to hand over their items, then I’d stop and ask, “Would you like a paper bag?”

Quite often, the smile would drop from the customer’s face and they would look affronted as they brusquely responded, “No. No, I don’t.”

I couldn’t figure out why offering a paper bag set some people off.

That is, until one day, I asked my usual question, and a customer abruptly responded, “No, I don’t want to pay for a bag.”

Paper bag. Pay for a bag.

My American accent was confusing Irish ears.

Frank found this hilarious.

He helped me practice saying “Would you like a paper bag?” over and over, in a way that placed the emphasis where Irish listeners expected it to be.

Eventually, I was able to stop offending my customers.

In a situation like that, when you’re face-to-face with a customer, it’s easy to recognize when you’re saying one thing, but your customer is hearing another.

It’s not as easy when your interaction is taking place online.

Maybe that social media update you just wrote makes perfect sense to you, but will it make sense to someone who knows nothing about you or or your brand?

This is why Frank and I spend so much time with you in the Marketing Messaging Simplified workshops figuring out exactly who your dream customer is, and exactly what you need to say to them, and exactly how you should say it to help them quickly understand your offer then fall in love with your brand.

Most businesses never do this work.

So they write content for their websites, social media accounts, and newsletters that is either useless, dull, ignored, or all of the above.

You don’t have to be like them.

We can help you develop a strong marketing foundation, complete with core messaging and brand voice guidelines, that will ensure you don’t confuse your dream customer.

Lately our clients have been telling us how fun the workshops are.

We love hearing it, because we think marketing should be fun.

If you think Marketing Messaging Simplified could be right for you, apply here, or sign up below to our newsletter and we’ll tell you more about it.

Marci Cornett

Marci Cornett

I’m a messaging strategist who helps small businesses rise above the blah. Very proud to have written for top industry publications including Copyhackers and DigitalMarketer. And to be one half of the award-winning digital marketing team Frank and Marci. Follow on LinkedIn