Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Power Of Recommendations

Today I went to a birthday party for the seven year old daughter of a former business partner. As my own kids are of college age, I had no idea what to get as a gift for a seven year old girl. My first instinct was to just go to Toys R Us, but upon further reflection I realized that the last thing I wanted to do was to aimlessly wander the TRU aisles, reading the manufacturer's labels to try and determine what would be an appropriate gift for a seven year old girl. Instead I went to a small "mom and pop" educational toy store I had remembered seeing in the neighborhood.  The extremely helpful young salesperson recommended an artsy/craftsy friendship bracelet kit, that she insisted was one of their best sellers and VERY popular with the seven year old girl crowd.  While it may have been a little more expensive than the same item at Toys R Us, it was less than what I was willing to spend so without hesitation I said yes. "Would you like it gift wrapped?" Of course I would!

Service, And A Smile

I was in and out of the store in less than fifteen minutes with a beautifully wrapped gift, but the best part was yet to come.  At the birthday party, when the birthday girl opened her piles of gifts, many of which were likely far more expensive and trendy than the "Alex Toys Friends 4 Ever Bracelet Making Kit" (affiliate link) I had bought her, guess which gift she picked up, filled with excitement, and ran over to her dad exclaiming with joy, "Daddy, look what I got!  Look what I got!!!"  Yes, it was the gift I had brought.  She was thrilled by the gift I got her, but not as thrilled as I was to have clearly made the right choice.

The Lesson Learned

My little birthday shopping experience is really just a real-world example of why Social Media and our increasingly connected lifestyles are upending the old ways of marketing, merchandising and selling all types of products and services.  In a connected world, why would you buy anything without first getting a recommendation from someone with experience, or even better, a friend with experience.  The old adage states, "You get what you pay for!"  If you believe this to be true, then why wouldn't you pay more, in time and/or money, to get a trusted recommendation before buying just about anything.  It makes perfect sense, and will make you a smarter, better shopper.  In most cases, getting the lowest price is not nearly as important as making the right product choice.

Do you agree?  How important are recommendations to you?  Would you rather shop at a mass merchant or a smaller store with more personal assistance?

And by the way, if you know of any seven year old girls you want to impress, here is the Alex Toys Friends 4 Ever Bracelet Making Kit on (affiliate link) for a better price than what I paid...

Photo Credit: © Javierafael -
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