Paul Gough

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Marcus Lemonis: How To Unlock The Right Customers and Build Credibility

As small business owners, we also have to be mindful that vulnerability and transparency are the key to unlocking the customer. 

The closer we are to that customer, the closer our relationship is with them. The more we share with them about the successes and the failures of our business, the more people want to rally around. 

People don’t want to rally around know-it-alls. 

They don’t want to rally around show-offs. 

They want to rally around people they can relate to. By the way, I’m not telling you that that’s so unique to business as human beings. 

That’s how we function. We want to hang out with people that we feel we’re equal to. 

Which means we all make mistakes. I make them every day. We all have failures, I’ve had plenty of them. 

It’s what we learn from those failures that matter.

What is the best way for a business in its infancy to build credibility and trust? 

It’s to get a referral program and a validation program and a third-party endorsement program from your customers. Testimonials through social media, through whatever source you can. Even your own social media pages. 

Using technology or letters of recommendation are the best ways to gain credibility because ultimately people will buy from other people who buy from you if they know that other people have had a good experience. 

Everybody in the room knows when we go to a restaurant, we’re with our significant other and we’re getting ready to go out to eat. They recommend a restaurant. 

What do most of us do? We go on to Yelp and we look at how other people rate our business. 

Oh, they said the service was slow. Oh, somebody said the food was cold. 

What do we do? 

Typically, we don’t go. 

A business in its infancy has very few chances to make that impression. We have to be aware of the experience. We have to solve the problem and we have to create an army of people who, in my opinion are going to be your visitors. 

None of us in the room other than T-Mobile, Disney, and other big companies, can afford right out of the gates to have a business and advertise in Times Square. 

It’s expensive, so we have to think about what our version of Times Square is. It could be a small town where you’re activating with your local community, doing engagement. 

It could be social media that you’re doing videos and experiential things, but we have to create our own Times Square and build an army of ambassadors. 

If the referrals are bad or the testimonials are bad. 

I don’t know how long you’ll be around. 

Every day you wake up, you should be thinking about changing. 

There’s been a lot of successful brands in the history of our country. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t exist anymore because they got rooted in a business philosophy and in the process that didn’t evolve before the customer evolved, that didn’t evolve before the new company evolved. 

If you’re in the technology business, then it’s every five minutes. 

If you’re in the services or retail business, it’s literally every day. 

You have to assume that your competitor is always in front of you and that the way you deliver your service or product or the way you deliver your messaging has to constantly evolve because of information today and the consumers ability to get information from so many different places, they’re bombarded. 

This stuff and their ideas are spinning in their head, and if you’re not spinning with them, you’re going to be left behind, so my response is, you don’t wait till you fail or lose money or run out of money in your bank account. 

You should do it while things are good. 

I have a philosophy that has gotten me in a lot of trouble, so I’ll share that philosophy. 

I actually believe that the employee is more important than the customer. 

That doesn’t mean I don’t love my customers, but I love my employees more because ultimately, they live and they breathe and they die and they sweat for the business and yes, if an employee makes a mistake, we need to reprimand that situation, deal with it, make apologies. 

But if the customer is harassing my employee or abusing my employee or taking advantage of the business, I’m not going to tolerate it. 

It’s not like I’m going to let my team member get run all over the street so that I could tell the customer they’re number one. 

However, here’s the real philosophy behind it. 

If you love your employees – and I mean really love then – and you give them the tools and the resources to be successful and you empower them to the best of your ability to be dynamic with the customer, then the customer, by definition, the customer experience will be better. 

If you suppress your team members and they don’t feel appreciated and morale is bad and they feel like garbage, as a customer philosophy, the customer experience is going to be poor. 

That is the only reason that I ranked the employee above the customer, not because the customer doesn’t matter, but because if I take care of the employees, they’ll help me take care of the customers. 

There’s going to be employees that don’t do that and they’re not going to be employees anymore. They’re going to be working from home. That’s the reality of it, right? 

But we never want our employees to feel like they’re going to be less important than the dollar. 

Marcus Lemonis will be appearing LIVE and INPERSON on stage at PPM LIVE in Orlando, Florida, and every time he speaks, he gives a UNIQUE talk to the audience so you can be assured of something very special and authentic when you come to the event.

All of the details of PPM LIVE 23 are here: and you can book up to five additional seats for your staff.