‘People buy from People’. A lesson for knowledge workers from Deenna Boutique and Neath Music

Neath Music from company helecopter
Neath Music from company helicopter

I know that I shouldn’t be surprised by this statement. ‘People buy from People’ is one of those truths that underpin so much human activity, particularly if this involves some sort of exchange. The exchange can involve a product, service or knowledge and information.  This is where knowledge workers fit in; stick with me…….This week I met some people who run small businesses at the launch of FYI Neath, a website to support the development of the South Wales Town of Neath (and surrounding areas).

The ‘People buy from People’ theme was kicked off by Joel Hughes (who has said this on several occasions). The general idea is that; if you know, understand and trust another person, you are far more likely to exchange things with them. An important concept if you are in business and need to sell products and services, but just as relevant if you are a knowledge worker. A while back I wrote this post The Disconnected Jerk which talks about some research on people not sharing knowledge with people they don’t like or trust (even if their job requires them to do it).

Part of the FYI Neath event involved people who run small businesses talking about how they develop a relationship with their customers online, so that they can reach the point where ‘people will buy from people’. Here are some of the points I took away, thanks to Deenna Boutique and Neath Music:

  • You are your business. Whatever you say online has to reflect who you are. It’s the same as if someone walks into the shop to speak to you. Let the passion for your business show.
  • Give the ‘pros and cons’. You need to be honest about the products you sell. Customers will expect that and respect your opinion.
  • Deliver on what you promise.

The objective underneath all of this online activity was to develop a relationship with customers so that they know who you are, understand you and above all trust you. Good advice for anyone working in the field of knowledge management.

Dave Snowden talks about this concept as knowledge can only be volunteered; it cannot be conscripted.  It has also been described in this post as one of the 7 Principles of Knowledge Management by David Gurteen, which is worth a read. The underlying principle here is that people won’t exchange or share knowledge with you unless they trust you. Being a knowledge worker in a massive organisation is just the same as running a small business in Neath.

Or maybe not…….. You have to check out Neath Music. As part of building the relationship with the customers they write a blog. One of the latest features is ‘Local Stars playing reasonably priced guitars’. Now then, why would you want to buy an Epiphone EB-3 Base Guitar online, from some anonymous corporation, when you could go into Neath Music and meet some fantastic characters? I’m quite tempted to pick up my Banjo again, I think it needs re-stringing.

So what’s the PONT?

  1. People buy from people. The small businesses in Neath know that.
  2. Developing a trusting relationship online is as important as doing it face to face.
  3. Knowledge exchange is a social process. It depends upon people trusting each other to share what they know.

Picture Source: This is Neath Music – taken from the company helicopter (apparently). http://www.neathmusic.com/contact/screen-shot-2012-12-30-at-15-32-33/

Links to related posts:

Low Trust Costs You Money: https://whatsthepont.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/low-trust-costs-you-money/

Why is Good Practice such a bad traveller? : https://whatsthepont.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/why-is-good-practice-such-a-bad-traveller/

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here: https://whatsthepont.com/churchill-fellowship/

13 Responses

  1. ….and it’s national support your local businesses week as well, great timing! I also think its about people becoming more aware of the impact of where they spend their hard earned cash has on a community.

  2. This is exactly the philosophy behind the Ivan Misner inspired “Business Network International” whose mantra is the four words “know, like and trust”. I was a member for a few years and several years later I still do business with those I got to know, like and trust. I still make business referrals to my friends from there with whom I developed that critical interpersonal relationship.

  3. Tony Dowling

    People buy people for sure. I’d even go so far as to say people prefer to buy people. People they trust and like (mutually exclusive terms sometimes)

    But pound for pound is it always the case?

    What if its way cheaper to buy online?

    What if the people you buy from, as lovely as they are, and as deep and meaningful the relationship you have with them, consistently get it wrong?

    Be careful, when back slapping over how nice we are, and how relationships are so important that you know what your clients NEED too.

    I know a few of the examples here, and they are all great businesses, well run with great products, and tons of experience in their respective markets. And also lovely people with great relationships with their clients.

    What impact would poor stock levels, or the wrong fashion choice, or a lack of current expertise have on each of them?

    In my experience, people will put up with all sorts of crap to buy what they need, when there is no alternative.

    But we certainly prefer to buy from people!

    Great post as always, very thought provoking!

  4. Your article makes a lot of sense; I think there is now a higher premium on trust in this day and age than ever before, and building a good solid relationship between supplier and customer is paramount.

    A lot of this activity can also be done online, rather than in person, if the right approach is adopted.

  5. I really felt I wanted to buy an electric guitar after watching Neath Music’s ‘Local stars play reasonably priced guitars’ video. Just after I’d read your post, I came across an article with an example of a very people-focused shopkeeper in Spitalfields, London: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2010/01/28/paul-gardner-paper-bag-seller-2/ – and I worry that such people won’t survive, and think they need to so that our cities and towns have heart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s