I am a great believer in the keeping to the basics – Putting the Customer First is one those totally obvious things that we all learn in “Small Business Marketing 101”, and then promptly forget. I often have people come up to me after a speech and say, “This is all blindingly obvious, just common sense.” And they are right, but my immediate response is always the say, “So are you doing it…?”
This question is usually followed by a moment of silence before they explain they have moved on to other approaches now. You cannot forget the basics, because if you do you stop marketing. So if you find yourself by the end of this article saying “this is just common sense,” do a reality check, and see if you have stopped using your common sense. I know I often do.
The most important basic to remember is that Marketing is an attitude to business that puts the customer first. If you and everyone in your business understands this then everything else about marketing falls into place. You have to make your entire business marketing oriented. It’s seems not to be a popular concept in the west, but we are here to serve our customers. If we don’t they will go elsewhere. Let me relate a story.
Some years ago, late on a Saturday afternoon my eldest daughter remembered she didn’t have any school shoes for the start of term the following Monday. Panic! We rushed to a nearby and surprisingly empty major chain store where three members of staff were wrestling with a till roll. I waited… and waited …ad waited… Eventually I said, “Can you help me please; my daughter needs some new shoes?” A girl looked up surprised and apparently irritated by my presence and pointing across the store said, “The children’s shoes are over there, if you find a style you like I’ll see if we have her size.”
I left… and we raced 15 miles to another town (the stores closed at 5.30 pm) where I knew there was a small private shoe store. When I walked into this little double fronted store it was in chaos. They clearly were having a very busy day. There were empty shoe boxes and children everywhere and the owner of the store was on his knees in the middle of the store checking the fit of a pair of shoes.
As the bell rang he looked up and said “Oh hello, I’ll be with you in just a moment.” And he was. I said “My daughter wants fashionable shoes for school but she can destroy a pair of Doc Martins in a week.” “I know exactly what you mean,” he said, “Let me see what I have.” A minute later he returned with two pairs of robust fashionable shoes, one of which my daughter immediately loved.
I have never forgotten that day. This was a man who understood service and delivered it so well that he was able to undercut the chain store prices. He is still in business today 10 years later – the chain store I am pleased to say is not. You have to take this kind of attitude to everything your business does.
I walked into an office once and there was a big poster on the wall.
Rules of Our Business
Rule 1 - The customer is always right
Rule 2 - When the customer is definitely wrong – re-read Rule 1
If you constantly think how can I make my customers feel great about doing business with me, then they will keep coming back, they will keep telling their friends and you will tap into one of the most powerful marketing technique of all, viral marketing, where doing business with you becomes infectious, and your marketing is done almost entirely by your existing customer evangelists telling their friends how great you are.
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