Why You Gotta Go and Fuck With The Program?
In Season 3, episode 4 of popular TV series, The Wire, Major Colvin was trying to drive down crime rate and drug-related shootings in Baltimore, so he announced an amnesty of sorts for drug pushers.
The terms would allow drug pushers to sell drugs without interference if they agreed to move to Vincent Street, far away from schools and residential areas.
But if they stayed where they were currently, the police would continue to harass, arrest and jail them.
He figured it’s a good deal, yeah? Drug dealers are always trying to evade the police, so they would love this new move that allows them to sell drugs without police interference, right?
After announcing the amnesty, the officers returned the next day to see that the drug pushers had not moved to Vincent Street. They had stayed put, at the risk of getting harassed, arrested, and jailed.
When one of the lieutenants asked why they refused to move despite the Major’s magnanimous move, one of the drug pushers, Fruit replied:
“Look, we grind, and y’all try to stop it. That’s how we do. Why you gotta go and fuck with the program?”
Turned out that maybe the main bosses would appreciate doing the drug business without police interference, but for the ones on street corners, getting heckled by the police, evading them, standing up to them, that’s how they earned their cred.
We’ve all been guilty at one point or the other of assuming that this is what people will like. This is what customers will love. This is why customers buy this or that. And sometimes, we are wrong.
The problem with creating content and building campaigns on the back of our individual or the company’s assumptions of what customers want is that we run the risk of creating marketing content that doesn’t resonate and building campaigns that make no impact.
When in doubt, always ask customers.
You may not have the big budgets to engage the services of some of the big research companies, or convene focus group discussions, but you have social media and you have a phone.
Getting feedback from customers should not just be for posting on social media for others to see and buy/patronize you, it should help you understand your customers better too.
Create polls. There are free survey platforms like SurveyMonkey that you can use to create poll questions to understand your customers better.
Schedule 5-minute calls with them and ask questions about your products. Let them talk about it and you listen.
Don’t assume you know everything there is to know about your customers and why they buy just because they’ve bought from you once or twice. Ask.
By James Ogunjimi