Ignore What They Say, Focus On How They Feel

Marketing legend Rory Sutherland says if we truly want our businesses to be client focused, we should ignore what people say and focus on what they feel. 


He goes on to makes the example of a restaurant. Why do people go out to eat? Because they’re hungry? People go to restaurants for social, convenience, and/or a million other reasons. There are certainly more optimal ways to get food. In the mid-1900s scientists imagined we’d simply take a pill to eat in the future. Flash forward and people can’t seem to get enough local, organically farmed food. What seems to matters is how we feel about the experience. 


Our feelings also don’t come with proper explanations attached. Most of the time we’re better off not knowing why. The feeling of “having fun” that we get from taking our spouse to a fancy restaurant is more productive than the evolutionary logic of “I feel the need to signal to other presumably powerful strangers that I am one of them and can also afford to bring my spouse here.” The smart restaurant owner knows this and builds it into the experience. 


Our most worthwhile conversations revolve around getting our clients’ feelings right. The survey results and justifications are fine, even necessary, but we need to focus on how strong we understand what we’re doing is making them feel. We can all list out our adjectives: At home. At peace. Comfortable. Confident. Smart. High-end. Whatever we can imagine, we need to write it down. Then, we can talk and think with our teams about how each of our interactions increases at least one of those sensations. 


Listen to what they say, but focus on how we make them feel.