Find My Community News Website!   Get connected to everything local.   Click here!
5 April 2011

Winning the Customer Pinball Challenge

It would be great if customers woke up in the morning with the express purpose of buying your product or service. Unfortunately, the path a customer takes to your front door may be a little less direct.  Think of this as the customer pinball game. Here’s how it works, with lots of breaks in between each step (visualize a ball dropping down the pinball board headed for the bottom – your business):

  1. Someone decides they want to buy a product or service you sell. (Ball is launched)
  2. They try to remember where they could buy it. (Ding)
  3. They ask a friend at work or over coffee. (Ding)
  4. They do a web search. (Ding)
  5. They read up on the purchase through a web article. (Ding)
  6. They see a related ad – hopefully yours. (Ding)
  7. They visit a website – hopefully yours. (Ding)
  8. They consider buying online and having to wait or getting it right away. (Ding)
  9. They consider the hassle of returns. (Ding)
  10. If the product or service is expensive, they will ask other people about the options they’ve found. These people may give them information that restarts the process. (Paddle)

Unlike real pinball, there is no guarantee that the ball drops all the way down. Some other “ball trap” or competitor may capture the customer before they make it all the way down.

Tilt Early, Tilt Often

Given this pinball challenge, think about how you can “tilt” the board to your advantage. Surprisingly, the game actually favors the neighborhood business since they have more ways to “cheat” by:

  • Connecting early in the process. If customers remember your business at the beginning, it works like a shortcut. Advertising helps with this.
  • Making sure customers find you through friends or Google. Blogging helps with this.
  • Giving reasons why your customers should visit. Offering a deal helps with this.
  • Getting your website to inform potential customers and capture their information. A good website design helps with this.

When all these pieces come together, the pinball game is tilted for an easy win. Have fun playing!

Jeff is the President and CEO of BubbleLife Media, the publisher of, DFW's largest neighborhood news source, and a leading provider of neighborhood marketing solutions. Jeff has always been a technology entrepreneur including founding and leading one company that ranked 26th on Inc. Magazine’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies, held an IPO and sold to McAfee.