My friend Blaine Parker is not only a superb voice actor, he’s a brilliant writer. I always enjoy his Hot Points emails that arrive each Monday morning. I’ve asked him for permission to reprint last weeks missive because it has so much of value for all of us.
HAVE BUSINESS OWNERS HAD IT TOO EASY?
Indeed, there is a recession. That’s inarguable. But many business owners who are complaining about how slow business is—are they necessarily justified? Have they done everything they can to raise the level of their game? Or have they been coasting along on the coattails of an economic boom time? And now that things are slow, are they experiencing the critical flaws in their respective business models?
ADAPT & SURVIVE
There was a news story this morning about a landscaper who’s weathering the tough economic times by taking smaller jobs. The nickel & dime projects she wouldn’t have considered a year ago? Now she’s now happy to take them. While it’s easy to question the wisdom of turning down work when times are good, it’s applause-worthy to see this landscaper adapting to survive.
I’ve had clients who, a year or two ago, refused to take those nickel & dime jobs—despite my suggesting they advertise for them. Now, all of a sudden, guess who’s asking for nickel & dime jobs in their advertising.
ON THE FLIP SIDE, WE HAVE ONE CLIENT WHO NEVER REFUSES ANY WORK.
He has a long-established interiors business. He’s always made it clear that no job is too small—despite his reputation as an established, upscale provider who’s worked for important major clients. This man wears the stripes of his generation: a great-grandchild of Italian immigrants who came here in the late 1800s, he is thrifty, conservative, and doesn’t spend lavishly. He always has his nose to the grindstone and never considers himself above any work anyone has ever offered.
Guess which of our clients isn’t presently complaining about the status of his business with regard to the economy. He’s always understood commitment to his customers, and how each job, no matter how small, is an investment. It’s a seed being planted that can eventually grow into an enormous oak tree of a client.
One woman came to him with a broken caster on an ottoman. Because he gave 110% on that broken caster, she’s subsequently brought him a six-figure billing history.
HE GETS IT
The businesses who survive are going to be the ones who understand value added. Who understand customer service. Who understand they are in no way entitled to anything—they have to earn every bit of business they get.
So, what does this have to do with us?
Now more than ever is a time when a smart marketing consultant knows to be more valuable than simply taking an order. A smart marketing consultant is going to make suggestions beyond just a client’s advertising. You’ve captured a lead, what do you do with that lead to make him a customer? Once you have a customer, what do you do to keep the customer coming back? What do you do to make the customer an evangelist for the company?
Bottom line: what can the marketing consultant do to be more valuable to the advertising client—that in turn makes the advertising client more valuable to his prospects and customers?
VALUE ADDED IS A CUSTOMER KEPT
It’s all about giving as much as possible so that the customer would (a) be crazy to go anywhere else and (b) has no choice but to talk about the business to his friends.
Left-field example: ski instructors.
My wife and I just spent a week skiing at Park City. We took advantage of a program called Ski College, which is an insanely cheap week of all-day lessons. She and I split off into different groups.
My instructor was a 5-foot tall dynamo of a woman who is intense in her ability to enthusiastically convey her craft. She makes sure everyone in her class knows they can have free demo equipment from the ski shop because of their association with her.
On the first day, she asks about your goals for the week and takes notes. At the end of five days, she hands you a written evaluation of your performance, with advice and tips to progress further.
She includes her email address and phone number.
My wife’s instructor is a party-hearty dude who is enthusiastic in his ability to convey fun. His girlfriend is skiing with the group. She’s crying on the other female students about the rocky nature of her relationship with him. At the end of the week, the instructor drinks some beer with his students. He basically fits a cliché of ski instructors.
My instructor fits the model of an aggressive entrepreneur whose business is about making things happen through creating customer loyalty.
She is a cult brand of her own.
Guess which of these two instructors had double the amount of tips at the end of five days. Guess which of these two professionals has an intensely loyal customer base that thrives on subsequent expensive private lessons.
SHE UNDERSTANDS PLANTING SEEDS
There’s no reason the other guy couldn’t be equally aggressive and thorough in his approach. But he’s a different kind of businessman. He’s pleasant enough. He banks on a captive audience. He’s waiting for customers to come to him. She isn’t coasting. She’s propelling her business on greased rails.
And she’s using tools readily available to ANY business. They’re inexpensive (if not free), they’re valuable, and they’re exactly what hooks the customers and keeps them coming back.
These tools are also the kinds of things that you and I can use in our own businesses and recommend for our clients.
Businesses in motion remain in motion.
Businesses at rest…
Well, you know.
Your Short, Fat Creative Director in
You all ready know that building relationships with clients who hire you again and again is one of the most important keys to your long-term success. I hope what Blaine and written above in the context of radio station advertising exectutives helps give you some fresh ideas about how to pursue that goal.
By the way, if you’d like Blaine to add you to his Hot Points email list, send him a note. Contact information is on his website.