7 Interesting Marketing Lessons from My Broken Dishwasher

Not too long ago, I was unloading the dishwasher.

I’m about half-way through and came to a dish that just wasn’t very clean. Then another one. And so on.

Not good.

Since then, my wife and I have taken a bunch of steps to fix the problem (I’ll tell you about those in a moment).

Then, this morning, I started thinking about all these steps, and noticed some interesting marketing lessons.  I figured you’d find them valuable, so I wanted to share them with you.

Step 1:
The first thing I did was go to the Internet to try to solve the problem myself. I Googled “dishwasher top rack not cleaning” since the dishes on the bottom seemed fine.

I read a couple forum posts on this, and realized I didn’t have the technical skills to solve this on my own.
Lesson: Expect your customers to have some knowledge about your products or services. Note that this knowledge may not be accurate based on where they learned it (e.g., from a web forum post from Joey in Idaho).

Step 2:
So, my wife called an appliance repair guy who she found by doing some local searches online.

Lesson: Make sure you (and not your competitors) are easily found online.

Step 3:
The repair guy came, gave us a bill for $95.07 for showing up and diagnosing the problem. He said that it would cost about $300 to fix it, but that the dishwasher was installed in 1994 (16 year ago; well before we bought the house) and that it was probably a better bet to just buy a new one.
Lesson: The repair guy gave us advice that was good for us (don’t do the repair, buy a new dishwasher) and bad for him (him losing out on the $300 charge). We decided to buy a new dishwasher. But, since he was honest and gave us good advice, we will use this repair guy again and definitely recommend him to others if ever asked. So, do the right thing now, even if you have to forego short-term profits, and you will get rewards later.

Step 4:
I looked online for dishwashers. What I cared about in the purchase were the following: price, cleans well, time savings (i.e., don’t need to rinse dishes before loading), looks nice (we wanted a stainless steel front), and is relatively quiet.
Lesson: not every customer cares about every feature. Many of the dishwashers promoted 9 different programs and cycles (like special cycles for glassware). My wife nor I have ever used these, so we didn’t care too much about them.
Another lesson: I looked at customer reviews online to see what others said about the different dishwasher models. If you sell someone a product or service, you should follow-up with them to make sure they are satisfied (or to satisfy them if they are not satisfied). Because your customers may post their comments online (or offline) which will influence your future sales.

Step 5:
I bought the dishwasher. I paid extra for installation and haul-away of my old dishwasher and bought a 3-year warranty.
Lesson: These add-on sales increased the total sales price by 24% and must have increased their profits by a lot too. And these upsells were things that I wanted. The lesson is that you must upsell your customers by offering them items that will better satisfy them.
Final lesson: My wife and I don’t represent every shopper. Not every shopper goes online to try to solve a problem themselves or to compare products. Not every shopper doesn’t care about certain product features. And not ever shopper is going to take your upsells.

But, make sure you figure out your main customer segments, think about how they will buy and make decisions, and create sales and marketing strategies that are in line with this.

 

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