Warning! Rant ahead!
How hard is it to count to twenty? I bet you can even do it with your shoes on. It’s not hard, and probably takes you less time to count to twenty – even out loud – than it does for you to read this sentence.
So tell me, dear friends that can count to twenty regardless of whether their footwear contains open toes, why is it so hard for people to notice that they have more than twenty (or 15 or 12, depending) items in their cart before they hit the “Express Lane” in the grocery store? Really – if your cart is filled with 101 yogurt cups or 30 boxes of cereal, you’re not going to be “express”, so please go find the regular checkout lanes and wait your turn.
In fact, I think there ought to be a “Super Express” lane for those with less than 5 items. As one national dining establishment put it: “Get in. Get out. Get on with your life.” Of course, this is coming from a guy whose grocery-shopping list generally consists of the “I-forgot-to-get-this-at-the-store-can-you-grab-it-on-your-way-home?” text message from the wife. So I may not be the best source for grocery store planning gurus to use for their opinions.
Okay, end rant. </rant>
I think the disconnect comes from a lack of proper notification and a lack of enforcement. People simply aren’t aware that the express lane item limit is serious, or perhaps they just don’t know that it exists, or maybe they’re underestimating the number of string cheese packets in their cart. In any case, there’s a definite disconnect between what the store envisioned as the purpose of those lanes and what is actually happening there.
This is a common problem with marketing as well. You have an idea what your message should be, and you craft your content around that message, and you publish it. And then you wonder why people aren’t behaving the way you think they should based on your message and what you’re trying to get across. There’s the same disconnect in your marketing campaign that there is at the grocery store.
And the solution is the same: Look at the issue through the eyes of your customer. Bring in someone from your team who isn’t in marketing or sales and have them look at your message and ask them what they would see as a potential customer. Or, if you’ve got the resources, conduct a focus group. Get the people in the room that you want to see your message and get their feedback.
Far too often, marketers and designers put together a message that looks great on their computer screen, but falls short when it’s actually implemented in the media for which it’s intended. That billboard design that looks great on your screen may not convey the message you intended when you’re zooming by at 75 miles an hour.
So get a fresh pair of eyes on your message. Or several. See what your customers see, and maybe you won’t have to wait quite as long at the grocery store.