A Consummate Canine Creation

    By Russell Zwanka | Small Business

    You could say that the dog is the most successful “product” ever launched.  If you “invented” the dog, you could chalk up your effort as a case-study in how to attract an audience, how to engage your customers, how to tailor your product to their needs, how to connect on an emotional level….pretty much everything you learn in business school about successful products, running a business, and customer engagement.

    There is a reason that 50% of households have dogs.  Let’s pound deeper into this cagey situation:

    There is a dog type for everyone.  Think you can’t offer something for everyone?  You have dogs that help you hunt, dogs that guard your house, dogs that fit into tiny little apartments in New York City, dogs that catch Frisbee, dogs that help the blind navigate their lives, and dogs that just sit there peacefully.  Truly, this “product” has a “flavor” for any customer type.  A differentiated offering that is developed with the customer first will always be successful.

    Every meal is the best meal ever!  If you have ever fed a dog, it’s almost as if the animal hasn’t eaten in years.  Every time, every meal.  This is the best crunchy bone meal I have ever tasted.  Tells you a little something about human behavior, right?  This “product” reinforces every one of our actions as a great action.  In fact, to a dog, you are perfect.  I love to walk!  I love to catch a ball!  I love to roll over and be scratched!  I love this food!  Dogs are the most perfect “positive reinforcement” product ever launched.  You are perfect.  Who wouldn’t want a product that makes them feel perfect?  A product that constantly reinforces how intelligent you are, how infallible you are, how much you are loved….is the perfect product.

    Dogs are expensive and no one cares.  Vet bills, flea control products, treats, gifts for the holidays, carriers, pet watchers, food, food, food….dogs cost money.  And, guess what?  It doesn’t seem like it really matters to a dog owner, does it?  The connection isn’t about price.  A dog’s connection is emotional, it is positive, it’s about companionship, it’s about caring.  How many of us would love our product, our store, our format to connect with our customers on something other than price?  The goal of any business is to connect at an emotional level with your customers.  Does your business offer the same positive reinforcement as a dog?  When you connect on something other than price, you are building an emotional bond that is long-lasting and sustainable.

    Dogs want to please.  It is in their DNA to want to make you happy.  They go out of their way to please their owners.  Now, think back to the last time you were overly pleased with a restaurant, a grocery store, a mass merchant.  Did you feel like that place, the place you drove to and are giving money to, wanted you to be pleased?  Sounds strange, but it is rare.  The best examples?  Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Ikea, Home Depot….they make you feel like you are special, you are the reason they exist, you are important.  It has to be in your DNA that the customer is the only reason you exist.  They are there to be pleased.

    So, you want to be successful?  You want to run an organization that puts the customer first?  You want a product that people will tell other people about, no matter the cost?  Then, take a few nuggets from one of the best product creations ever.  Understand how dogs are the ultimate “connection machines”, understand how constant positive reinforcement drives a sustainable bond that is like super glue.  Want to be successful?  Take lessons from the dogs, for a change.

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