Wisdom holds that in business the customer is always right. But in some situations that may not be true. How do you decide whether to accommodate an unreasonable customer?

Of course, most companies want to do their very best to keep customers happy. But what if a customer demands something that doesn't fit within your current company policy? How do you determine whether the customer should be right?

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This Week's Dilemma

Challenging "the customer is right" syndrome

We have a policy that we don't replace items after seven calendar days. Yet, we get customers arguing that we should replace their broken purchase after the seven days are up. How far should we take the "customer is always right?"

—Philip, Product Manager

Previous Dilemma

Pursuing a WOW campaign to market products

We have a great product, the marketing support materials are in place and the sales team is hungry, but we want to add a "wow" factor to our product launch. Where do we start in our search for creativity that leads to a wow campaign?

—Zachary, Project Manager

Summary of Advice Received

How often does a campaign leave you saying, "Wow!"? When that happens, you're more likely to remember the product. Zachary, readers' responses to help you create a super-charged campaign were divided into three areas:

1. Emphasize the differences and benefits.

2. Turn the product into a star.

3. Encourage customer interaction.

1. Emphasize the differences and benefits

As always, focus on what makes your product different and run with it. Theresa Crosby, a sales manager, explains:

Find your differentiating factor—what makes you different—and play that up. Also, remember a benefit is different than a feature. A feature exists whether you use a product/service or not, but a benefit is something the customer gets by using the product.

A feature might be "better delivery than your competition," where the benefit is, "it saves them time." In an industry or product category where there are several shades of beige (the same product offered by several companies), your marketing must scream "I'm different" and why!

Sanjeev Kumar Vyas, marketing executive at Green Packet, gives a few more hints on highlighting how your product is better than the competition's:

If I were in your situation, I'd start off from the basics: look into how my product is different from the competitors; what extra things I offer but the competition does not; how my service is different from the competition. Looking for these differences will not only help you get started with a wow campaign, but will also result in the success of your campaign, because you are advertising what you can deliver. In today's world, that has become important as business increases on the basis of repeat sales or word of mouth.

If your product offers various kinds of benefits, then identify which of these benefits make your customers interested in your product (to identify this, remember the conversations you had with your potential customers during exhibitions or road-shows or the like.). Then highlight that benefit and add in other benefits as well.

For a creative twist, John Ragosta, marketing director at BizAtomic, says, "Start by looking into the different ways your product can be used. Run a contest for the most unique, creative, extreme (or whatever) use of your product."

2. Turn the product into a star

Think Hollywood or Broadway. How do movies, shows and actors become stars? Shawn Petriw, idea merchant at Shawn Petriw CREATIVE, describes how to make your products famous:

Look to the theatre. Make your product a star, a performer. Just when you don't think the theatre fits your business, look at how Cirque du Soleil revolutionized the concept of what a circus looks like—no cheesy ringmaster, no bearded lady. Caution: To make a real splash, take care not to have a show that introduces the product (music and lights), the product must BE the show. This is much, much harder than simply throwing a party.

Can't imagine how to apply such a concept to a serious product or topic? It's possible, and Raphael Baekeland, general manager at Internet & Negocios, shares his story:

In Mexico City, we combined WOW and viral marketing. Crime in Mexico City is an acute problem; people are fed up with the city administration and organized a march. The organizers wanted to "identify" the participants afterwards and boost subscribers to their Web site. We sent 3,000 emails to the list they had, where we included a link to a newspaper online.

The newspaper had the same headline as one of the newspapers that reported the original march with the difference of having the headline with the first and last name of each recipient as a key participant. We used the name three times in the articles also. At the bottom of the page, we explained and offered the recipient to send the newspaper to five friends who would receive the same newspaper, but with the friends' names on top. The friends had to be participants in the march.

At the same time, we offered a way to subscribe to receive more email news, and the possibility to comment. Result: The "hot" political issue created a flow of thousands of emails. The list of 3,000 emails grew to 45,000 and the resending still goes on after two months. The list keeps growing.

Wow. This just goes to show how publicity, whether honorable or notorious, can pack a marketing punch. Treat your product like a star is another great way to kick off your "wow" campaign. Help it make a name for itself.

3. Encourage customer interaction

Look at what the customers are doing, and use that knowledge in marketing your product. Design your campaign according to how they currently interact in the market to rally them around your product. Jennifer Herring tells us how to do this:

First, brainstorm on what interactions you think your target audience would respond to. Take a walk through a section of the community where your audience is likely to be and draw from how they interact with their surroundings. Take the idea you get and expand it beyond the normal factor. You may be surprised what you find.

Second, take a company's strength and apply it to your product. If your company is a small, tight family, then your product can be viewed as the product that needs or is advertised in or as a small, tight family product. Finally, consumers like interaction with products. Fun facts about your product on the box, contests and comedy all work.

The more you create a campaign based on your customers' current behaviors and how your product fills a particular need for them, the more successful it will be. Stars have fans bombarding them with attention; help your product receive the same.

Get out there and WOW'em! Make Tom Peters proud.

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Hank Stroll (Hank@InternetVIZ.com) is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.