How to Market to a World Hooked on Instant Gratification

by Suzanne Kearns on August 6, 2014
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It’s no longer enough to give customers great service and competitive prices. Today, they want all of that — and they want it now. With the advent of modern technology and instant-response social media platforms, people have lost the ability to wait. Tweets, Facebook posts, and texting require no patience and provide users with immediate gratification. And now people are beginning to expect the same from the companies they buy from. So, how can you take advantage of this trend in your marketing efforts? Here are five suggestions.

1. Play up the time savings you offer. People want things fast, and if you can deliver goods and services more quickly than competitors, you should tout it in your marketing efforts. Boldly proclaim in your headlines that you can train their dog in five days (presuming you actually can), for example, and make sure your website emphasizes that your training sessions will give them what they want faster than anyone else.

2. Speed up customer communications. Today’s consumers have no patience for businesses that only communicate with them during traditional business hours. To satisfy them, you should ensure that their needs and concerns are met when they have them. Do this by using live customer service chats and instant email communications 24/7. Take it one step farther and hire an around-the-clock answering service for those who still rely on phone calls.

3. Offer faster shipping. Big retailers like Amazon.com, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart are all offering their customers same-day delivery options. While they have massive budgets that allow them to build local warehouses and shipping centers, consumers may soon expect the same from smaller businesses. Luckily, FedEx, UPS and other small, local shipping companies have decided to meet the challenge. For a fee, your customers can get the satisfaction of receiving their merchandise the same day they order it.

4. Leave no question unanswered. Most people like to have all the pertinent information about a product or service before they make a purchase. That’s why it’s crucial that your website provides enough information and product detail for the buyer to feel comfortable making the purchase immediately. Include photos, product specifications, reviews, current pricing, shipping options, and anything else someone would need to know before buying your product.

5. Sweeten the deal. Even if you take all of the steps listed above, you can appeal even more to the “I want it now” crowd by giving them an extra little taste of the immediate gratification they crave. How? By giving them something the second they place their order. For instance, you might offer them a free downloadable garden planning guide if they purchase seeds from you. This applies across the board to business owners who sell either products or services. A dog trainer could offer an instant print instruction guide for preparing a dog for his first training session.   

Simply put, today’s consumers are impatient. Ramesh Sitaraman, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, studied 6.7 million internet users [PDF] and determined that the average amount of time they were willing to wait for an online video to load was 2 seconds. If required to wait 10 seconds, half of the study participants abandoned the effort.

To give your business every opportunity for success, you’ll need to give your customers the tools and options they need to satisfy their expectation of instant gratification.

Suzanne has been a full-time freelance writer for 20 years. She’s written for numerous business and financial publications such as Entrepreneur, Reason Magazine, Home Business Magazine, and Money Crashers.

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