I was having lunch with an old colleague and former partner, Cheryl Vandemore, yesterday and we were talking about ways to market yourself or your business when you’ve got zip to do it. Let’s face it, most small businesses are in this position. You know you’re supposed to market yourself but it’s everything you can do to just keep operating, much less advertise.
But there are other ways…
She was telling me about her new hair stylist, a young woman who takes her profession and her business quite seriously. Shortly after Cheryl’s first appointment, she received an e-mail thanking her personally for the business and with a attachment of three photographs of different hairstyles that the stylist felt might be a good look for her. She invited Cheryl to look at them, think them over, and then call to talk about them.
So Cheryl picked one, called her up and made her next appointment. She said she was excited about the new look.
But she was also impressed with how this young entrepreneur had reached out to a new customer to cement the relationship. The stylist, in effect, sent Cheryl a little gift, a free consultation. She let her know that she was thinking about her and how she could help her.
This is damn good marketing. It obeys all 9 Unbreakable Rules of Marketing at once; consistency, perception control, creativity, message management, simplicity, giving love, emotionality, effort, and integration.
And all she had was her cell phone.
Contrast this with other service businesses who, in the interests of improving their customer relationship management (CRM), invite you to go to a website and fill out a customer service survey. The implication is (and sometimes it’s not even an implication; it’s made quite clear by the employee who writes her name on the receipt) that if you don’t give them a perfect 10, heads will roll. How does this make you feel? Suddenly, someone’s job is in your hands. You’re not thinking honestly about your actual impression, you’re just thinking these guys terrorize their employees. And you’re thinking also that they just want to capture your data for their automated CRM database.
And does anybody take these stupid surveys seriously? Is this supposed to be what passes for marketing metrics? Is anybody suspicious that so many perfect 10s come back?
But, getting back to the example of Cheryl’s stylist, she had the right idea about marketing: Make it simple. Make it personal. Make it useful. And show you really do care about their repeat business.
Also, don’t make anybody feel sorry for you. It isn’t about you; it’s about your customer.