And how well do they know you? The more we understand about our clients, the better able we are to…?

If you’re thinking “sell to them”, that’s not quite the right answer.

I was looking for “serve them better.”

You might think that serve rather than sell a soft option, but I think you’d be wrong.

More importantly, I think you’d be doing your business, and your clients a massive disservice.

When clients don’t avail themselves of the other things your business could do for them, you both lose out.

A pigeon-hole is a dangerous place

A huge frustration for many business owners is felt when they lose work they could have done for their clients.

Often, it happens because the client sees them as a supplier for the first thing they purchased.

Let’s say the original purchase was a small lightbox.

The client is delighted with the lightbox but goes elsewhere for a much larger print job, say a graphic wall covering on a big stand.

The lightbox supplier, who could also have done that print job for the stand, loses out on a much more valuable order.

They also have missed the opportunity to increase the trading value of their original sale; the lifetime value element that is vital for long-term, profitable growth.

The client didn’t deliberately avoid placing the order with the lightbox supplier.

They didn’t know they could have done the bigger job.

That’s the danger of being pigeon-holed, and it can happen to us all.

Definitions that can help us avoid the situation

From time to time, I like to remind myself of the dictionary definitions of certain words.

It helps to clarify more precisely thoughts and feelings to convey when writing or presenting.

Here are some definitions for pigeon-holed.

Each highlights very clearly the danger to a business earmarked in this way.

1. To place or file in a small compartment or recess.
2. To classify mentally; categorise.
3. To put aside and ignore; shelve.

1. To place or file in a small compartment or recess.

Here, we’re back to the lightbox example.

The client has you categorised. It’s where they will go to again if they ever need whatever that first, low-value purchase happened to be.

By the way; who wants their business to be in a recess?

2. To classify mentally; categorise.

It’s similar to No.1; the client has you categorised in their minds as only being able to … (you fill in the blank).

3. To put aside and ignore; shelve.

Here, your business is out of their thoughts entirely.

If they ever need another lightbox, they may not even have kept your details on file.

Flying the pigeon coop

To get out of this situation, we need not just to remind our clients of our existence; we need to educate them about what we can do for them better than most or all others.

That’s where “serve them better” comes into play.


David O’Beirne
www.linkedin.com/in/davidjobeirne
The Exhibition Agency Ltd
63 Vera Avenue, London N21 1RJ  
T. 0203 633 4665
M. 07858 374 051
www.exhibitorsonly.biz
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The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ESSA, its members, board or staff. Our members represent a broad range of views within the event industry, and we have provided this section of the website for their opinions to be openly heard and discussed.

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