How to love your customers

We’re bringing back some old favorites by request. If there’s anything you’d like to see us run again, please get in touch. This one is for Jenny.

Originally published December 7, 2009 as Crushed Hopes and Spicy Chicken.

I’m not a big cook. I’m not a cook at all, really. I didn’t cook before I started IttyBiz and I sure as hell don’t cook now. My husband and I eat out a lot, and if we’re not actually eating in a restaurant, somebody’s going for takeout.

One day, we were having one of those not-really-an-argument arguments, the kind you’ll often see in couples who are very aware they would be completely and totally screwed if they didn’t have each other. They’re mad, but not mad enough to risk saying anything stupid, especially in front of the kids. Since I don’t care how mad I am, I’m still not cooking, we went out to the Mandarin, an Americanized Chinese buffet.

His favourite dish at the Mandarin is called Spicy Chicken. Sometimes they have it, sometimes they don’t. It’s weird, because everything there is so static normally. But Spicy Chicken is a sometimes treat.

The way we handle the Mandarin is pretty routine now. He sits down with Jack while I go up and fill two plates – a dinner plate for me and a side plate for Jack. I come back with our food, and we switch off. Jack’s food requires preparation and organization and coercion, so I’m usually busy enough sorting him out that I don’t really start eating until all three of us are seated.

This night, he sits back down, pretty silently. (Having not-really-an-argument arguments is particularly easy when you have children who are more than happy to chatter enough for all three of you.) I go to eat and he says, really quietly and without really looking at me, “They had my Spicy Chicken today.”

Where we segue into the modern human condition

Have you ever seen those people in restaurants who don’t speak to each other? They’re not fighting or anything, they’re just generally grumpy? Same with movies. You’re in line to see a show and there’s fifty teenagers who look like they have made boredom their life’s work. Sometimes you and I are like that too. Bored. Anhedonic. Numb. Cynical.

But deep down, every person in that restaurant, everyone waiting in line, is us.  At one time or another it was our first trip out to dinner, our first time at the movies. Our excitement was enough to shatter glass. Our hope was palpable. We had not yet decided that hope was for losers.

Beneath layer after layer of disappointment, disillusionment, betrayal, confusion, rage, fear and Keeping A Stiff Upper Lip is a profound and fundamental human hope that maybe something nice will happen today.

For a moment, a flash really, I saw my husband as a fellow human being, a nice man who was looking forward with cautious hope to his favourite dinner. Probably not, but maybe.

I saw the 16-year-old who knows that his parents don’t have any money for a birthday present this year, but maybe they’ve been saving money for years and he might actually get a Mustang. Probably not, but maybe.

I saw Jack, who can’t eat birthday cake like other kids, saying, “maybe there might be Rice Krispie cakes at this party?” with that little lilt at the end that asks a question and trusts I’ll know the answer and deliver it with mercy. Probably not, but maybe.

Your customers are these people too.

I sell internet marketing products, and my industry has a bad reputation. It is generally assumed, because of my profession, that I am out to screw everyone and anyone. Not even for the money, necessarily. Just for the sheer joy of screwing someone over.

Somehow, despite this, I am blessed with a lot of very nice people who buy my products repeatedly. Considering the habits of some of my peers, it’s a miracle I sell anything at all.

In internet marketing, and I imagine the weight loss industry is like this as well, while people consciously know there is no magic wand, they continue to hope you’ll sell them one for $47. When you don’t, most of them realize that their hope was misplaced, but some become really, really angry. Then they send you emails.

I sold thirty-five thousand dollars worth of products in the last two weeks. We got a lot of email.

I am very lucky to have a lower than 1% return rate in an industry where 20% is standard and 50% is still in the realm of normal. I received a lot of beautiful letters from people who were grateful for the sale we ran and more so for the payment plan. But, numbers being what they are, we still got some returns.

If you sell how-to products for a living and you’re not in the habit of lying about what your products will do for people, your returns will generally fall into two major categories. One, your product was too advanced. Two, your product was too basic. (The guy who returned SEO School for too much swearing and the other guy who returned Online Business School for not enough swearing are, naturally, the exceptions to this rule.)

But every now and again you get a return from somebody who’s just out for blood. Maybe they want to make good and sure you’re going to refund their money. Maybe they’re pissed at you. Maybe they’re pissed at everybody. But they’ll write a treatise on exactly how much you suck and why.

We got a return from somebody who told me OBS should have been renamed Online Business 001: Business Lessons for Total Imbeciles. They told me they felt totally betrayed. They told me they were crushed.

My first desire, me being human and all, was to publish their letter in its entirety here. To rant and scream and make fun. To say that “crushed” is a term better reserved for miscarriages, philandering spouses, and lifelong pets found dead on Christmas morning.

But then I thought about my husband and his Spicy Chicken and I stopped.

This person entered into a situation full of hope. They held their breath for a moment before clicking “Buy Now” and thought, “Maybe this time it’s for real.” For whatever reason, that for which they hoped did not materialize. They are disappointed and sad, and I’m sorry for that. Who the hell am I to say what should or shouldn’t crush a person?

Inside every customer…

Inside every customer is a little child in the supermarket, hoping beyond hope that their father will buy Cocoa Pebbles instead of oatmeal, just this one time.

Inside every customer is the awkward teenager thinking that maybe, just maybe, this new pair of jeans will make the popular boy think she’s beautiful.

Inside every customer is a tired housewife who hasn’t been given anything more romantic than a tea towel for three decades, but still dares to believe that maybe that envelope under the tree has cruise tickets tucked inside.

Don’t be angry. They’re just human. Try to love them anyway.

64 Comments on How To (Honestly) Love Your Customers

  1. Charlotte
    December 7, 2009 at 11:48 am (7 years ago)

    Beautiful, Naomi.

  2. Laura Belgray
    December 7, 2009 at 11:53 am (7 years ago)

    So true, that every customer is hoping for magic. I actually ordered some serum that’s supposed to reverse gray hair. As if! I pretty much knew it wouldn’t work, because if it did everyone would be using it. But I still kept checking the UPS tracking number, waiting for it to arrive so I could start reversing my gray hair.

    But there are also people ordering this stuff who know for SURE that it won’t work. They don’t really have hope. They’re already angry when they order it, and looking forward to getting more angry when they receive it, rub it on their head, and confirm that it sucks. Because they love being angry, they love cursing people out, and most of all, they love getting a refund.

    • Naomi Dunford
      December 8, 2009 at 11:36 am (7 years ago)

      HA! This is a very good point. Kind of like when I want to go buy those control top panty shorts things simply so I can walk back into Sears wearing nothing but shapewear and winter boots and yell, “SEE? I’M STILL FAT!”

      Not that I would do that. But I’d LIKE to do that.

  3. Nathalie Lussier
    December 7, 2009 at 11:59 am (7 years ago)

    I love how you boil it down to being human. It’s not about money, refunds, and all that jazz. It’s about being human. The eternally hopeful.

    This is a forehead smacking moment, really. I love you Naomi. :)

  4. Julie
    December 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm (7 years ago)

    Naomi; You said, “Inside every customer is a little child in the supermarket, hoping beyond hope that their father will buy Cocoa Pebbles instead of oatmeal, just this one time.” Beautiful.

    And this is why every Christmas my kids get a a case of Coke or a box of cereal (usually Reece’s Puffs) wrapped. They love the bad stuff I don’t usually buy.

    I never thought of customers this way. I mean of course they are human, but you have a great way of getting to the heart of things.

    Thanks,

    Julie
    P.S. I was one of those who bought OBS and I am really enjoying it – I personally thought it was worth more than I paid.

    • Naomi Dunford
      December 8, 2009 at 11:36 am (7 years ago)

      DUDE! That is such an awesome idea. I’m totally stealing it. Glorious.

      And I’m so glad you’re liking OBS, sweetie.

  5. The Frugal Hostess
    December 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm (7 years ago)

    Probably just my lack of crazy pills, but I’m totally crying now. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

  6. Oleg Mokhov
    December 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm (7 years ago)

    Hey Naomi,

    We’re all hopeful human beings. We don’t look the same, talk different, have diverse lifestyles, varying income level (and sanity level)… but we’re all brothers and sisters on this planet.

    And when someone’s hope is “crushed” for whatever reason that only makes sense in their head, it’s like a friend (whom we just haven’t met yet) having an off day.

    We all have bad days, after all, and can unfortunately act like jerks sometimes. We know deep inside we don’t really mean to hurt others, so it’s a (admittedly tough) thing to do to try to understand that somebody else is the same way (deep down inside, somewhere in there).

    Here’s to loving others, even when they make it tough sometimes,
    Oleg

    • Naomi Dunford
      December 8, 2009 at 11:38 am (7 years ago)

      “Here’s to loving others, even when they make it tough sometimes”

      Beautiful. :)

  7. Kristen Kalp
    December 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm (7 years ago)

    Yah, I just got choked up about spicy chicken and Cocoa Pebbles…I heart this post. I heart your refusal to become a bitter, product-returning old bitty yourself, too.

  8. Jeff
    December 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm (7 years ago)

    Naomi-

    This actually kinda made me tear up – like, I want to give your customer a hug. You make a great point, and I think the industry would look very very different if people kept their customers’ fragile hope in mind when creating and selling their products.

    • Naomi Dunford
      December 8, 2009 at 11:39 am (7 years ago)

      Damn. Well said, sir.

  9. Ali Hale
    December 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm (7 years ago)

    Beautifully written post, and one that’s made me feel a little more mentally prepared for launching more e-products of my own…

    I imagine it’s a nightmare knowing how to pitch between total-beginner and expert-guru — for me, OBS was mostly fantabulous, with a few bits that were a little basic. I wasn’t crushed; on the contrary, I was thrilled — I’d clearly learnt more along the way than I’d previously realised!

    And I’m glad Jamie got his Spicy Chicken!

    • Naomi Dunford
      December 8, 2009 at 11:44 am (7 years ago)

      It’s a bitch, dude. But I find, once you’ve done it a few times, you start to get a feel for how many people are going to return it. You get to the point where even in the middle of writing the damn thing, you know who’s going to hate it. :)

      Thanks, as always, for the lovely words.

  10. Don MacDonald
    December 7, 2009 at 3:03 pm (7 years ago)

    “Considering the habits of some of my peers, it’s a miracle I sell anything at all.”

    Indeed. That’s why it took over 7 months and a huge discount for me to get over my nervousness and buy OBS. Nervousness? Why? Not because I have no ambition, not because I don’t understand it’s money invested, but because it’s very hard to trust someone you don’t know over the internet. I’ve been online long enough to know how easy it is to build a really professional looking web site. I know how someone with little character can create a false facade of trustworthiness. I was 99% sure Naomi is not one of these people and STILL it took me that much time to just trust that her product was good and worth my time. Even when there are sample modules posted and everything.

    I wonder if your dissatisfied customer didn’t check out the sample modules or what happened because I felt that the OBS marketing page did a very good job of managing my expectations. Actually, that was one of the strengths of your marketing for the product: you didn’t overpromise. OBS promised the basics, I got the basics. And the basics were what I wanted and needed. After all that dithering, I was very pleased with OBS.

    Naomi, you made the right choice in not publishing this customer’s e-mail and mocking him. Even though he was rude and generally out-of-line. And the big reason is that when you make fun of a customer—even one who richly deserves it—you intimidate other customers and potential customers. People who are not completely sold on you (like me until recently) are going to wonder “what if this happens to me? What if I, in my ignorance, ask a stupid question and get raked publicly over the coals?”

    So this is a long way of saying I’m glad you didn’t make fun of your customer and I liked OBS.

    Don

    • Naomi Dunford
      December 8, 2009 at 11:46 am (7 years ago)

      Well, thank you SO much for both taking the plunge and for writing this. It’s scary as hell when you’re at that point — when Sonia and I got Mass Control, I was completely terrified. I’m grateful. Seriously.

      And you’re dead right about the making fun of customers thing. Sometimes, when they’re vicious, well, they’re just asking for it. But in this case? Totally.

  11. Don MacDonald
    December 7, 2009 at 3:11 pm (7 years ago)

    But I haven’t been online long enough to get Gravitar working properly, evidently.

  12. Dave Doolin
    December 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm (7 years ago)

    I agree with Don, you made the right decision this time. Sometimes, people need a little mocking, other times, a little lovin.

    There’s not nearly enough lovin’ in the world anyway.

    How did you learn to write? I have stories you. would. not. believe. But my delivery is so wooden.

  13. Jason of Kim & Jason
    December 7, 2009 at 3:26 pm (7 years ago)

    What a cool post, Naomi. It occurs to me just how fragile the “maybes” are. Kids start out with a whole lotta “certainlys.” Of course then life happens and most of the “certainlys” turn into “maybes.” I’m not sure how many dashed “maybes” a person can experience in a lifetime, but I’d say that someone living with full-blown Adultitis is one who doesn’t have any “maybes” left in them. I’m not sure if there’s a way back from that, but it sure is a sad state to be in.

    It really shows just how powerful it is when you can turn a customer/friend/spouse’s “maybe” into a “certainly.”

  14. Bradley
    December 7, 2009 at 3:37 pm (7 years ago)

    “We had not yet learned that hope was for losers.”

    what a crushing statement.

  15. some other Naomi
    December 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm (7 years ago)

    I love this post. Your writing makes me teary. Or maybe I need crazy pills too, like The Frugal Hostess mentioned.

    I think we are generally too hard on ourselves and some people project that outwards. They feel like they made a bad decision and don’t know how to project that properly or in a way that’s actually productive.

    Last year, hubby and I accidentally chose the wrong boxes in Ikea for our new chairs we wanted to buy and didn’t realize it until we got home (after a 2 hour drive back). It was our fault for not checking the box labels properly, but I still felt jipped and angry about it. Mostly at myself for being a dork, but if I was honest, a little bit at Ikea too.

    We finally remedied it by painting the chairs black and staining the wood. Now they are lovely chairs. It was the only way to make it feel right again. Putting a little of ourselves in those chairs and making them feel like ours.

    So, maybe you can only do so much. You give all the information you can and let people choose. Then they need to find their own satisfaction in the end by making it their own.

  16. Mary
    December 7, 2009 at 4:27 pm (7 years ago)

    Beautifully written and profoundly true. That is all.

  17. Akemi - Yes to Me
    December 7, 2009 at 4:58 pm (7 years ago)

    Very insightful.
    As I read, I was thinking, “Is this another one of her articles she mocks people with lots of swearing (not that I hate it — I know it takes a lot to handle it right) or — maybe, this is different…?”

    Generosity, or whatever you call it, is graceful.

  18. Sonia Simone
    December 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm (7 years ago)

    Aw, , I like this so much.

    This one is very Pema.

  19. Amber
    December 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm (7 years ago)

    I am rather shocked at the idea of someone returning a product for insufficient swearing. I just … can’t conceive. Since most products of that nature have no swearing whatsoever, I don’t see how you can set a minimum level and ever be satisfied.

    But, I guess, people are inherently hopeful, and your customer thought maybe he had found a course that would make a sailor blush. So, yes, grace is definitely the best course of action in that case.

  20. Tei
    December 7, 2009 at 5:47 pm (7 years ago)

    And all through Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day . . .

    But they hope that the heart-size will shrink back to an ant’s, because when all’s said and done, they come to Ittybiz for rants.

    That was all very sentimental and sweet and touching, Fatty. When I finally get off my ass and come to Canadia sometime, I’ll teach Jamie how to make his chicken so he never need go without ever again.

  21. Justine Smith
    December 7, 2009 at 6:33 pm (7 years ago)

    Okay so HOW AWESOME ARE YOU for talking openly about someone who spoke of your product as being “not good enough”. It takes a lot of guts to publish the views of someone who didn’t find your product useful and I am now 10x more likely to buy a product from you now based on this post…

    Honestly, why don’t you start a course on “research 101 – how to not be an idiot and easily make the right product choices based on the facts” and not the illusion. I don’t understand how these bad peers of yours get away with it, too many people not spending their time performing simple searches to see scams vs. non-scams.

  22. Jeffrey Tang
    December 7, 2009 at 7:13 pm (7 years ago)

    Seriously, business and marketing advice isn’t supposed to leave you with a lump in the throat, is it?

    A beautiful lesson, Naomi.

  23. lorrie
    December 7, 2009 at 7:28 pm (7 years ago)

    Great post. or rather, it’s a great thing for you to have posted this story. Not only is your transparency invaluable but you have such involved commentors that they easily double the value of each of your posts.

    but back to the real point, did you and Jamie make up?!

  24. Jill Hubbard Bowman
    December 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm (7 years ago)

    Thanks for the laughs. Your post was funny and touching. I also gained some insight to why I haven’t gotten a response from you to my email and call about doing a profile for my website. I think your writing is great and I’m glad you are being financially successful. I’ll try you back after the holidays.

  25. Léan Ní Chuilleanáin
    December 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm (7 years ago)

    Wow … just for an instant, there, I had a flicker of a wisp of a suggestion of what it might be like to have a customer – someone who bought my product because it spoke to some need they had. This being, you must understand, my product that doesn’t quite exist yet, on account of I have extreme difficulty in conjuring up any kind of belief that someone might want it.

    But thank you, Naomi, for that momentary flash of another world.

    Ve make progress. Iz good.

  26. Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother
    December 7, 2009 at 8:15 pm (7 years ago)

    Aww man, did you have to be so specific about what “crushed” means? Our dog just died the Monday before Thanksgiving, nearly 17 years old. Yeah, if someone had told me that day that they were “crushed” that their online marketing course wasn’t up to snuff … they’d better hope they’re saying it via email and not in person.

    I guess “internet crushed” is like “internet famous” — in other words, “Not really.”

    • Don MacDonald
      December 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm (7 years ago)

      “I guess “internet crushed” is like “internet famous” — in other words, “Not really.””

      WIN. Man, I wish this site had a “like” function or something. Since not:

      I like what you said. There: like function.

    • Naomi Dunford
      December 8, 2009 at 11:47 am (7 years ago)

      Oh, Drew. I’m so sorry. What a shitty, shitty thing.

      And I’m sorry for reminding you. Ick.

      Sending love.

      • Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother
        December 8, 2009 at 1:47 pm (7 years ago)

        No problem. You can’t use a realistic example without someone out there thinking it was about them.

        In the intro to my second cookbook, I tell people that you don’t need to be an expert to cook, you just need to do it. Fear of failure keeps people from doing lots of things they would like. The examples are: “That’s why we stop dancing when we’re in grade school. Why we won’t speak in front of crowds. Why you didn’t approach that cute guy in History class your junior year. (Someone out there is reading this and thinking, “Oh my God, how did he know that?”)”

        It’s the little details like those that make us want to read the story.

  27. Michelle
    December 7, 2009 at 8:50 pm (7 years ago)

    I’m going to join the people who need crazy pills, apparently, because this also left me with a lump in my throat. I can probably blame the flu, though.

    @Drew – sorry about your dog. :( I still remember how devastated I (and my mom, poor thing, it was “her” dog) was when our family of twelve years pet up and disappeared, and that was like, four years ago.

  28. Sarah Marie Lacy
    December 7, 2009 at 9:08 pm (7 years ago)

    Yeah I got a little bit choked up reading this. I’m not too proud to admit it.

    I think we often forget that everyone is just human. We’re all just bozos on the bus, as someone smart once said to me.

    We’re all still 5 years old, underneath our fancy clothes and make up and cars and high heels. We all still hope, we all still cry, we all still get scared and get our feelings hurt.

    Thanks for writing this – reminded me of some important things I’d almost forgotten.

  29. Sandi Abbott
    December 7, 2009 at 10:42 pm (7 years ago)

    Beautiful, hopeful, insightful and just a gift. it makes me feel fragile to admit that I’m a hopeful little child at times and powerful to think I can extend hope and grace to my customers, my friends, my kids, my hubby. Thanks, Naomi.

  30. Christie Ingram
    December 7, 2009 at 10:48 pm (7 years ago)

    Love, love, love this post. Love it waaaaay more than the crappy Mandarin. Thank you for a beautiful reminder. And yes, you totally made me cry too. Or it is the fumes of hair dye on my head. Probably both.

  31. Jenn
    December 8, 2009 at 12:10 am (7 years ago)

    I’d have to say that this post alone leads me to trust you more than previously…… not that I really even know you. I agree about not trusting your industry in general, but the fact that you understand the human condition no matter where we come from lend trust and authenticity to you as a marketer and a fellow human.

    Even those who only want the opportunity to be angry and get a return are hopeful if only for the opportunity to return products and be more angry.

  32. Dick Carlson
    December 8, 2009 at 9:23 am (7 years ago)

    I think it’s time for you to admit that you’re no longer teaching us about marketing, sillypants.

    Welcome to Naomi’s Online Life School.

  33. Rhonda Lane
    December 8, 2009 at 9:43 am (7 years ago)

    I’m another one sitting here in front of the keyboard with tears in my eyes.

    You always remind us that we’re not just selling “stuff.” That we’re selling hope and dreams and possibility.

  34. SICWorld
    December 8, 2009 at 9:51 am (7 years ago)

    HAHA!

    I love your cynical yet funny take on things.

    I totally agree with this.

    I also think it would be worrying if you didn’t get any returns because you might think you’ve created the perfect product.

    What the fuck would you do then? Where do you go from perfect?

  35. Amy
    December 8, 2009 at 10:20 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks for the push. I really do love the way you put things in you’re writing.

    PS. I bought OBS – love it!

  36. Michael
    December 8, 2009 at 10:23 am (7 years ago)

    Hi Naomi,
    I love what you wrote and write. I would of, could of, should of and was about to click but probably know more about IM than most. Buying something and not even looking at it then adding it to my USB that already has a $45,000.00 street value is not going to do me any good unless I get off my fat lazy ass and do something. In other words you made 35K! That is amazing! You could of, would of and should have made more but you are living a dream your readers wish they could.

    YOU ROCK!
    Happy Holidays

  37. Naomi Dunford
    December 8, 2009 at 11:34 am (7 years ago)

    OMG, guys. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, and I’m sorry I didn’t get back to y’all sooner. I got a puppy and broke a tooth (not related) and just got back to the computer now.

    THANK YOU.

  38. Catherine Azzarello
    December 8, 2009 at 12:05 pm (7 years ago)

    Thanks for another awesome post, Naomi. Guess I’m in the crazy pills category, too! And before breakfast…must be hunger making my eyes tear.

  39. Cheryl Binnie
    December 8, 2009 at 12:27 pm (7 years ago)

    I’ve been reading blogs by fiction writers. Not fiction blogs, but the writers’ blogs. Lots of great information for aspiring writers. And you would think the writing would be wowerific.

    Um. Yes and no.
    Chunks of text reach epic lengths. The writers repeat themselves repeatedly, redundantly and a lot. Tangents take you on confusing detours. And so on. I guess that’s what I get for starting my blog-reading career on blogs written by you and other copywrite-savvy people: I notice things.

    Anyway, after reading your post today, I walked away from my computer, thinking about that housewife and the envelope under the tree. I hoped that she got those cruise tickets. I mean, to the point that I wanted to find out how the story ended. About three minutes passed before I laughed. “Not real, Cheryl. Just damn good writing.”

    But a part of it is real, and a part of me still wonders if she got those tickets.

    So. Your point hit home.

    -Cheryl
    p.s. If you ever do write your romance novel and go the road of publishing, let us know. I wholeheartedly support that venture.

  40. Dree
    December 8, 2009 at 1:34 pm (7 years ago)

    I’m just excited you used “anhedonic”.

    Good luck with that puppy!

  41. Dean Dwyer
    December 8, 2009 at 2:19 pm (7 years ago)

    Hey Naomi,

    If you want to test out your first email idea…you know, post the whole letter and then rant and rave and make fun of it..I’m totally willing to be that audience :-)

    I’m a bit like you in that respect. When people act like a jackass when I least expect it, my flight or kick their online ass response kicks in…

    I am getting better however at letting the moment pass and understanding that people like that do that all the time…and it doesn’t have anything to do with me…I just don’t need to take ownership of their shit.

    I just need to understand they are doing their best with what they have, even if it isn’t what I expect in people. A little understanding and a kind response can sometimes go a long way to making things ok.

    And if not…well then “Its go time!” :-)

    Dean

    • Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother
      December 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm (7 years ago)

      “I just don’t need to take ownership of their shit.”

      Dood. Good one.

      Naomi, are you collecting good lines from your comments? I smell a book.

      • Dean Dwyer
        December 8, 2009 at 4:20 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks Drew. That’s a Dean Dwyer original:-)

  42. Michele
    December 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm (7 years ago)

    I LOVE THIS POST. Thanks for the touching reminder, this totally made a difference in a conversation I had yesterday with a client. Instead of pushing, I asked questions, and it made all the difference. You rule.

  43. GirlPie
    December 8, 2009 at 4:04 pm (7 years ago)

    MAN you’re good. THIS IS A KEEPER and I suspect will become one of your most read posts (among those excluding sex toys.)

    Besides the great writing that you make look easy (this is complex stuff, kids!), the ways it taps my brain beyond your designed points is fascinating and helpful.

    My business is like yours: considered akin to ambulance chasing. I sell only time/knowledge, deliver only dream support and hope tools, and have had just one refund request in 12 years (and she tried to become a competitor!) I Never expect what I buy online to work, so I’m delighted when it’s a good buy, and don’t “love people.” Persons, yes; people, not so much.

    But your analogies and examples and wording and insights — god you’re good — help me remember that, although my client’s dream may be far fetched, it’s worthy, it’s fragile, it’s entrusted to me like an infant. Their infant. Can’t get mad at an infant, (and you showed class in not posting that stoopid letter), but your post (and your swell comments input) is sinking in deeper and I think it’s going to change something profoundly for me… I’m never going to love all of my clients, but I will now remember to understand them at this level, to meet them where they are. Spicy Chicken, indeed. Man, you’re good.

    Thank you again for whatever it takes to share/blog like this, in addition to all the rest of it.

    [email protected]

  44. Kara J
    December 8, 2009 at 6:13 pm (7 years ago)

    Ok, no fair tugging on the heartstrings. I don’t read ittybiz posts to get all emotional and stuff!
    /hides in the corner snuffling about cruise tickets and rice krispie cakes.
    Damn but you’re a good writer!

  45. Holly Jackson
    December 8, 2009 at 7:22 pm (7 years ago)

    As someone who currently has the OBS loaded up in their car to listen to as I drive (I realize that this is slightly extreme), I thank you for it deeply and profusely. In fact, the lesson about service businesses provided me with my lightbulb moment for what I truly wanted mine to be. Now come up with a magic formula for where to find customers and I’ll be all set.

    Thanks for this post: I’m going to bookmark it to go back to when I start things up. I’ve designed my business to start from a teamwork standpoint rather than a money/service impersonal standpoint, and you’ve made me think I’m headed in the right direction.

  46. Caroline
    December 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm (7 years ago)

    I have said for years that hope is a dangerous thing. Hope is often the issue my husband and I have not-an-arguement arguements over (his hope is endless and mine is all used up). Hope is the thing that kicks the shit out of you everytime and you still go back for more.

    Caroline

  47. Bee
    December 10, 2009 at 1:42 am (7 years ago)

    Hope is like one of those punching clowns that fall over when you hit them but they always bounce right back. Hope is a dangerous thing but I still wouldn’t give it up.

    I’ve hit the “buy it (hope)” button a few times on Itty Biz and I’ve yet to make my way completely through any of them. I recognize that it has everything to do with me and nothing to do with the product or you. But one day I’ll be ready for what they offer. Until then I love knowing they are waiting for me, they give me hope in myself for having chosen them.

    How could it be wrong to trust someone who writes as honestly and profoundly as you. Thank you.

  48. Andreas Rönnqvist
    December 10, 2009 at 8:35 am (7 years ago)

    Too far down the comments to be read. Still need to write this. One of the most humanizing articles I’ve read in a long time. One which made my heart skip a beat, because it reached deep inside and touched me.

    Thankyou.

  49. Jamie Lee Wallace
    December 10, 2009 at 11:22 pm (7 years ago)

    I need to echo Andreas … I know I’m probably too late to the party to actually be part of a “live” conversation, but I wanted to send a shout out anyway … just a quick, digital connection to say, “Wow. This makes SO much sense.” and to thank you for being you and for sharing yourself – unedited – with all of us … your fans.

    I love the way you’ve made the idea of marketing so human by putting into terms that everyone can relate to. Each of us has secret hopes that drive our behavior in different ways. We always hear so much about how to “leverage” emotions, how to manipulate people by playing on their hopes and fears. Thank you for reminding us that there are real people with real feelings on the other end of those manipulations … that each sale represents someone’s faith is us … or at least their hope. That’s important.

    You make me want to sign my comments with X’s and O’s. I know that’s totally unprofessional, but I can’t help it. Cheers.

  50. Caelan Huntress
    December 23, 2009 at 2:10 pm (7 years ago)

    Ok, you’ve officially got a subscriber for life. You have reached through the impartial veil of the internet to remind us that every online interaction does not need to be impartial; these are still interpersonal connections, and by treating them as such, you nurture loyalty.

    You rock, Naomi.

  51. Rebecca Little
    May 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm (6 years ago)

    I just found this again and read it. Love it just as much the second time.

  52. MikeTek
    May 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm (6 years ago)

    Welp…that’s the best thing I’ve read in a month. No shit.

  53. Kathy
    August 17, 2010 at 6:42 pm (6 years ago)

    A certain percentage of the population is a pain in the ass 100% of the time. Then there are the rest of us who are a pain in the ass from time to time. If you are successful and come into contact with enough people, you will get to meet some of both. If you can turn the other cheek, more power to you. Most people can’t. Fighting usually ensues as a result.

    It wasn’t a real catchy title on that post, but man did it deliver on point.