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My fellow Slate And Main producer Keith Eveland and I were having lunch at a sports bar in the Nashville area several years ago. We chowed down on a plate of nachos as big as your head (or whatever) and happily polished off every last morsel.  We sat and chatted, and then sat and chatted a little bit more. About 30 minutes later we began to wonder about paying the check. When a not-our-server dude wandered nearby, we summoned him and asked for our real server to come over with the bill. So, this guy walks over to our server and relays the information to her.  She nods and starts to walk toward us. 

We watched her approach our table and walk on by (like Dionne Warwick). Our heads swiveled in amazement as we followed her to another table several yards behind us.  We chuckled a little bit and thought maybe she’ll come to us next.

"Somewhere a clock chimed three...No wind stirred as she stood near a casement window...A minute passed. Then another."  We sat in the bar, dimly lit. Clearly, we weren’t going to have a visit anytime soon. I started humming the Specials Ghost Town. Keith looks at me weirdly and blankly as he often does when I toss out ancient obscure pop culture references. So he gets up to find  someone else to track down our waitress. It was eventually successful. She comes over to us. 

We say to her, “We would like to pay our bill, now.” She says to us in this high-pitched squeek, “Oh, are you my customer?”  We could only hold a straight face until we reached the door. We were laughing so hard we collapsed into the fetal position.

Perhaps it was just one of those things or perhaps it was complete incompetence. It doesn't really matter. The damage was done and that moment has become a metaphor for us every time we do content marketing. Never forget the customer. It is so easy to do.  

You want to get your message out but you unfortunately become so gripped with what and how you do things, you forget why your company even exists or what your customers need. So, here are three quick things to help you to be more customer-oriented and audience-driven. 

1.  Know Your Customer
Pretty obvious, eh? But seriously, if you’re asking the question, “Are you my customer?” then you are in big fat Elvis trouble. T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Trouble. You have to get to know them. What are their needs, wants, and fears? For example, are they concerned about making a bad decision or trying new things? What makes them tick? What is motivating them? What problems do your solve. At the restaurant- we wanted food and were willing to pay for it in a timely manner.  

Serve your customers some yummy content kinda like these 'nachos as big as their head'! They'll remember you. 

Serve your customers some yummy content kinda like these 'nachos as big as their head'! They'll remember you. 

2.  Serve Your Customer. 
They don’t exist to serve you, you exist to serve them.  Bring some value to their experience. Don’t just put on a show. You are not communicating at them, you are talking with them. Your customers are people. Be clear. Help them understand. Build the relationship. Make them glad they spent money with you.

3.  Remember Your Customer.
Yeah. Don’t forget your customer. Ever. Like ever. Just don't. It’s easy to think of them as just your source of income or part of your job. However, if you give your customers a bad experience, you will most likely never get them back.

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Keith and I didn’t go to back to that restaurant and apparently, lots of other people didn’t either. Because that restaurant has since closed.  Gone for ever. Stick a fork in it. (Or In the words of the late legendary Chick Hearn,"Close the refrigerator door. The jello is hard and it's jiggling.") Hopefully, you get what I'm saying. Remember your customer and keep them satisfied.
 

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About the Author
Mark Seignious, M.A., realizes his last name is a bit of an eye-chart. But, it rhymes with genius. Of course, after reading this post or others, you'll immediately know...it just rhymes. . He enjoys writing for Slate and Main plus shaping young minds as an Associate Professor at the University of Northwestern- St Paul. In the time it took read this, a minute passed. Then another. 

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