Two score and four years ago the mighty Pittsburgh Pirates were starting their improbable World Series season. At the same time, Detroit-born Doug Fieger released a single record that saw an improbable climb to No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100. The song remained there for six weeks and was featured on Fieger’s band’s debut album titled “Get the Knack.”
The Knack’s song, “My Sharona,” took the nation by storm. Back in ’79, we loved the clever lyrics and foot-stomping beat. We just didn’t understand why someone would sing about “Mice Aroma.”
Misunderstood lyrics are common in rock and roll — there’s even a term for it, mondegreen, which refers to a misheard word or phrase that makes sense in your head, but is, in fact, incorrect.
In our own retail world, we can create our own set of mondegreens. We quote a customer four to six weeks for delivery when we mean around six weeks and our shoppers hear no more than four weeks. Same for arrival time on delivery day — we say between noon and 4 p.m., and at 11:30 a.m. your shopper calls you to ask why the truck is late.
- Hold me closer Tony Danza 1. Some RSAs can cause a mondegreen when discussing warranties. Most product guarantees have exclusions and restrictions. Other products have longer coverage on some items and shorter on others. Think about items where parts are covered for five years and labor is covered for one year. When a shopper is told “this has a five-year warranty” they understand it to mean full bumper-to-bumper coverage.
- Give me the Beach Boys and free my soul 2. It’s uncomfortable getting used to new things. Our neighbors recently added a new $60,000 SUV and use their 2008 Toyota Highlander as a second car. However, they keep their new ride in the garage and prefer the old Highlander.
You see, no one at the auto dealership showed them how to use all the buttons and gadgets on the new vehicle. Our neighbors will probably never be able to enjoy all the features and benefits that they paid for.
People buy a new mattress for comfort and a great night’s sleep. Often, they too are replacing a 2008 (or earlier) model. Luckily there are no buttons and gadgets on a flat mattress. But there is a break-in period. Chances are good that the additional support and comfort level of the new bed will take some time to get used to. Often, it’s five or more nights. Despite telling the customer about the break-in experience, you may still get that call demanding an exchange on the day after delivery.
- I travel the world in generic jeans 3. Every organization or business has nomenclature that includes abbreviations, initials and acronyms. Those are great time savers when communicating with your tribe. But all the inside lingo has little value or meaning to people outside your tribe.
Initials like IWC, PCM, PCF, IDL need to be explained to your shopper. What they mean and why it’s important. Terms like profile, firm, plush and euro-top are cool descriptors to us hep-cats of the bedding world. For your shopper, you may be better off saying height, hard, soft and one-extra tape edge with a little more comfort.
- 2023 is a great year to listen to music. For the past couple of decades, if you wanted to know the real lyrics to a song, you simply tapped a few buttons on your keyboard or phone.
Help your shoppers understand, too. Provide information that can be printed or emailed. Add in a short video and give them an easy-to-navigate phone or text number.
Back when The Knack was recording “Good Girls Don’t” you had to keep moving the needle back on the 45 to repetitively hear a line in a song. Or hit rewind if you had a cassette player. Or be totally lost on an Eagles 8-track-and sing, “You‘ve been outright offensive, for so long now 4”.
1-Elton John “Hold me closer tiny dancer”
2-Uncle Cracker “Give me the beat boys and free my soul”
3-The Eurythmics “Traveled the world and the seven seas”
4-The Eagles “You’ve been out riding fences for so long now”