I met with the marketing manager and owner of a local small business earlier this week to discuss some creative ways to improve their marketing efforts. At some point in the conversation the owner blurted… “I feel like trust is at an all time low in society so nobody believes anything we say in our marketing pieces.”
In some ways he’s correct but I’m not sure that trust was ever really all that high. People have always been skeptical of advertising claims. Since early childhood when one of your siblings points and says “hey check that out” while they steal your chocolate chip cookie we’ve all been conditioned to take someone’s promises with a grain of salt.
So, what’s different? In years past, people would congregate around the barbershop, general store, church, social club, etc. and share experiences with local merchants to find out who did the best work and who to use for an upcoming project. Today, people don’t spend nearly as much time interacting on a social level. You need to find ways to collect testimonials from happy customers and share those as part of your ongoing marketing efforts.
“But I don’t have any testimonials” you say? One thing I do think about our society is that the bar between average and exceptional service has been raised. People expect a much higher level of product or service before they are impressed. Give them just an average experience and you won’t have their business for long much less recommend you to their friends.
If you’re a business owner or department manager you need to find ways to create WOW experiences for your customers:
- Develop a bonus package with your product to give customers more than they expected.
- Provide free video tutorials to help them set up your software package.
- Have a ‘no questions asked’ return policy.
- etc, etc, etc. – add more and more of these until you’re so far ahead of your competitor they don’t even have a chance at catching you.
Unfortunately, most marketing departments are insulated from the rest of the company and have no chance of changing employee behavior or corporate culture. All the headlines, catchy slogans and fancy ad colors in the world won’t overcome a lackluster customer experience.