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Newsletter #847: The “Remove the Annoying Stuff” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Smart marketers are on the hunt for things that annoy, frustrate, and confuse their customers. What you should be cutting:

1. The loitering
2. The bad flights
3. The loud cell phones
4. Check it out: Office Fridges

1. The loitering

Loitering can be a major frustration for a business. It can lead to vandalism, shoplifting, and it can annoy and deter the good customers. If you’re facing this issue, here’s an idea: try blaring classical music. That’s what United Dairy Farmers did — they’re a convenience store in Columbus, Ohio — and it seems to be working remarkably well. In interviews with the local news, loyal customers happily reported dramatic drops in panhandlers harassing them and in people loitering out front.

The lesson: As a marketer, you’re responsible for removing frustrations throughout the entire customer experience — both inside and outside your store.

Learn more: 10TV

2. The bad flights

Find the obvious things your customers don’t need or don’t want to buy and remove this clutter. At travel site Hipmunk, instead of showing you every possible flight combination, they exclude the bad flights that nobody wants to take anyways. You know, the flights with three layovers and 16 hours of travel — all just to save $12. It’s what they call their “agony filter” — and it’s designed to remove unnecessary options that no sane customer would want to purchase.

The lesson: Too many options is never a good thing — especially when half of those options will only annoy and frustrate your customers.

Learn more: Influential Marketing Blog

3. The loud cell phones

Few things will annoy your customers as effectively as some fool armed with a cell phone and the need to talk very loudly. It can ruin everything from movies to dinners to public transit. That’s why customers love policies like the contract you have to sign before dining at Rogue 24. This two-page document covers logistics like cancellations, payment, and their very explicit cell phone ban. As the contract explains, “All guests should be able to enjoy the experiences that surround them at Rogue 24 free of distraction.” It means no cell phones, no bothering other customers, and no worries that someone is going to ruin your dinner, either.

The lesson: If your customers use your product as a group, pay special attention to ensuring one rude customer can’t mess it up for everyone.

Learn more: Eater DC

4. Check it out: Office Fridges

This goofy photo blog explores the bizarre leftovers, the funny kitchen notes, and even the quirky shapes of the office fridges themselves.

Learn more: Office Fridges

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  1. Brady Cremeens August 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    This part about playing classical music, in my opinion, was brilliant. What a great way to take care of a problem (loitering) without making a bigger deal out of it than need be. Playing (generally) undersirable music makes sense, because it’s just enough that people who aren’t customers don’t want to hang out there, yet wouldn’t be too annoying so as to turn away customers. In fact, shopping with classical music playing sounds quite pleasant to me.

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