business modelIt’s important to get a few of the obvious things out of the way first:

1) Willy Wonka = the 70’s Gene Wilder version of the Roald Dahl book

2) I think we can all agree that the first, and most obvious, reason why some of Willy Wonka’s business models should not be your own involve the extremely questionable relocation of the Oompa Loompas from their island home to a chocolate factory in England where they live in isolation and are paid in cocoa beans.

With that out of the way we can talk about the other big thing that Willy Wonka just totally wrong, and that is not talking to customers.

It’s a Two Way Street

Willy Wonka’s example of locking the factory doors and cutting off all communications is a drastic one, but many companies still don’t actively engage with their customers, and when they do, it is often one way: we speak, you listen. Some of these companies even engage in their version of Social Media: they have a Twitter or Facebook account, post semi-regularly, but don’t actually engage with any of the users.

Mr. Wonka was lucky (and some would say a mad genius) that he was able to keep getting people to buy his candy even though he never engaged with them, but unfortunately he is an edge case. A September 2013 Forrestor study showed that a consumer who engaged with a CPG brand online had a 65% probability of preferring it to other similar brands. 65%! By just taking the time to engage with a customer. Willy Wonka was lucky enough to be the market leader by just having a great product, but he could have cornered the market if he had taken the extra step to talk to his customers.

Just taking a few minutes everyday to answer a tweet, follow-up on a Facebook post, or post to a favorite community can create a two-way communication channel that can have a big effect on your business. It allows your customers (and future customers) to see that you want to have a dialogue and that you care what they think, and it allows you to hear directly from customers what they think of your products, and may even result in ideas to make your product better.

Don’t fall into the same trap as Willy Wonka: unlock your gates, talk to your customers, and you will sell more chocolate.