A single Wantable review highlights how overpromising in your SMB marketing – but under-delivering – can lose your customers’ trust forever.

The Wantable promise

In its marketing, small business Wantable.com calls itself an “online lifestyle service for busy people on the go.” It promises premium products that are tailored to a customer’s unique tastes, wants and needs. The Style Edit, its fashion subscription box, is one such service the Milwaukee, WI-based company of approximately 75 employees provides. Customers take a quiz to highlight their preferences, which the stylist then uses to curate a box for the customer. The box contains about seven items based on these preferences.

The Wantable business model

For this service, Wantable charges its customers $20. The fee is non-refundable, even if the stylist doesn’t actually pay attention to the customer’s profile. Wantable insists on keeping this fee, but it will apply the $20 to any purchases the customer makes.

The Wantable review

Customers that have used Wantable leave mixed reviews. However, my Wantable review on Run Out of the Box sums up how Wantable is overpromising and under-delivering, a marketing tactic that will sink its business.

The company markets itself as providing personalized Style Edits tailored to customer preferences. Wantable also claims on its About page that it loves making people happy, and that excellence is its standards.

However, based on the items received from Wantable, the stylists do not pay attention to customer preferences. For example, I described my style as laid-back, casual, and classic. I received leather paneled leggings, a cold shoulder t-shirt, and a “mod”-style dress. As part of my Wantable review, I also noted that the items did not fit me. I’m 5’1″, and six out of seven items did not fit properly. They were too long. Wantable does not carry sizes appropriate for women of a smaller stature.

As a professional woman, I was also horrified by one of the suggestions from my stylist. She had included a very poor quality peplum blouse, which she suggested I pair with a pencil skirt and leather jacket for a “fierce” office look. I cannot imagine any professional setting where a leather jacket is appropriate for a client meeting.

The reality of Wantable is that, in addition to ignoring customer preferences, the company also insists that it is right. It provides a poor customer experience as soon as the box arrives on the customer’s doorstep. It loses the customer’s trust the very second that its stylists select a box full of items that don’t match the customer’s stated preferences. Wantable continues to lose customer trust when it refuses to refund money for a service that clearly was not provided (personalized picks).

The company also does not provide high-quality items. As indicated in my Wantable review, one of the tops was a mess of loose threads. Wantable claims to use its own standard set of sizes, but if that’s the case, Wantable doesn’t carry sizes that are truly for smaller people. Again, its marketing needs to reflect that.

The marketing lesson for SMBs

For SMBs getting into any sector, Wantable’s indifferent and untruthful attitude toward marketing offers a valuable lesson: be truthful in your marketing! Be as honest as possible. If the customer’s expectations are not in line with what she receives, you can and will experience an Attack of the Customers situation. As an SMB, especially if you’re a startup, you can’t afford it.

One other important point from the Wantable review is this: you need to listen to your customers. You do need to respond appropriately – not just with apologies, but with actual solutions.