Guest post by: Olga Ionel
If your company serves local communities or specific cities, melding your brick and mortar marketing efforts with your online marketing efforts with local SEO can help improve your search rankings against the competition.
A large supermarket chain near my abode also runs a convenience store-style gas station in front of the supermarket. They run a thoroughly marketed promotion whereby customers receive a discount for gas based on how much money they spend on groceries.
Having just dropped a serious chunk of change on groceries, I received a fuel coupon for a discount of $0.23/gallon. Nice, I thought. That’s almost four bucks off on my next tank of gas.
A couple of days later, I went back to their gas station. The fuel discount was printed out at the bottom of my grocery receipt, but it didn’t say what to do with the coupon. So I pulled up to the super-modern, uber-convenient pumps and saw the sign that read: “Must Pre-Pay or Use Card.” I shrugged and used my card, as I usually do at pumps with a card slot. I figured they would give me the discount inside the convenience store. How on earth else could it done?
Fifteen point eight gallons later, I sauntered inside the store, receipt in hand. At the counter, the conversation went like this:
Me: I have this discount coupon here. (handing him the receipt)
Clerk: Did you already pay?
Me: Yup. Receipt right here.
Clerk: Then I can’t give you the discount. You have to pay inside.
Me: But the pump said I had to pre-pay or use my card. I used my card.
Clerk: That row of pumps is pre-pay. You should have used this other row.
So I chose not to cause a scene and shuffled off to chew on my frustration. Of course, my coupon expired the next day.
Am I going back? Should I go back?
Let’s analyze the ways this promotion failed this customer.
Great marketing does not equal great execution. You have to do what you say you’ll do. And you have to do it without throwing up roadblocks. A benefit behind roadblocks is not a benefit at all.
If the customer thinks he’s going to get a benefit, and then finds it’s walled up behind fine print, or seemingly arbitrary rules, he is going to go away and not look back.
I don’t expect that my personal boycott of this chain matters to them, and I’m not that bitter, but how many other customers are going to walk away, dissatisfied? Maybe readers will think me unreasonable, but how much inconvenience are customers willing to put up with?
What is the lesson here for all marketers?
Today we interviewed a new client who has devised a fiendishly simple, yet remarkably effective, sales strategy: he shows up. More specifically, he gives an underserved niche in his industry — a very large niche — the time of day.
In return, they give him large checks.
“Eighty percent of success,” as Woody Allen famously observed, “is showing up.” Here’s how it works for our new client:
His insurance agency exclusively offers insurance to owners of apartment buildings in New York with fewer than 100 apartments. (In New York this is considered a small building.) Most of these folks are ignored by insurance agents. Many complain that the only communication they ever receive from their agent is a bill.
He takes the time to educate them a little about the insurance they need, and in return approximately half become his clients. Twenty minutes of Commercial Building Insurance 101, and he lands a new client at least half the time.
Is your sales batting average over .500?
Here’s another example: I sometimes drop in, unannounced, on a client. Usually I’m in the neighborhood and just saying hello. Almost every time it turns into new paying work: “Hey, as long as you’re here, can we give you this project?” A 20-minute visit, when balanced against the dollar value of the projects it generates, is the most lucrative and successful form of marketing I can imagine.
In addition, clients are loyal to people who pay attention to them and treat them as important. This is true in industry after industry, and pays dividends beyond sales and revenue. (A recent study, for example, showed that people don’t file malpractice suits against doctors who listen to them and answer their questions, rather than brusquely rushing them out of the office, even when mistakes or bad outcomes occur.)
When was the last time you got out from behind your desk and actually visited your clients? When was the last time you called one of your clients and said, “Tell your employees not to eat breakfast tomorrow morning, because I’m coming in with a tray of bagels?” How often do you call your smaller clients, not to make a sales pitch, but just to see how they’re doing?
In other words: