Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Appreciable Asset...

With the spiraling stock depreciation where is a wise place to invest?

If you oversee marketing, it seems one asset is appreciating -- and is appreciated: customer service. According to a recent release from consulting firm Accenture, while customer loyalty is eroding, service is helping customer-centered enterprises remain on top.

“Doing the hard work to deliver the right customer experience --- including service that meets rising customer expectations --- can set a company apart and help it hold on to customers.” says Woody Driggs, Managing Director of Accenture’s Customer Relationship Management practice. It can also help firms draw in competitor's customers who aren't satisfied with the service they're getting.

Demanding times seems to create demanding customers. Accenture found that 73% of U.S. survey takers switched providers in the last year due to poor service, compared with 47% who switched to get lower prices. If this is the case, despite the tanking economy, it just goes to show that value is still an overriding factor in the buying equation.

I recently made a decision to switch several vendors because of service. One wouldn't help me meet a demanding deadline. Another raised prices without notifying me, failed to follow written directions and billed me for their mistake. None of these vendors will realize they've lost my business, or why. I don't have to cancel a contract, I just won't be placing any new orders. And their marketing department will likely chalk it up to the economy.

So how do you know if your customers feel they are being served well? Accenture identifies these 4 most common areas of customer dissatisfaction:

1. Impolite or unfriendly representatives
2. Issues not resolved in a timely manner
3. Representatives don't take ownership for resolving problems
4. Inconvenient customer service hours

I can think of at least a half dozen more. But how do you know where your service falls on the spectrum? I suggest doing a "SATISFY" survey. Don't just ask customers if they are satisfied. Ask them what are the most important factors to make them feel satisfied. Then see how you measure up.

In my mind, the most important key to satisfied customers is appreciating them.

So this Thanksgiving, if you are a client of Sasso Marketing, thank you. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be of service to you.

And if you're not a client, yet, give us a chance to demonstrate the kind of service that sets us apart.

Give me a call anytime at 847.451.2246.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bad Breath, Bad Marketing...

A couple years back a small coffee shop opened a few doors down from my office.

The new owner approached me for advice a few days before her doors opened.

Hoping to gain a strategic friendship with a nearby afternoon caffeine jolt, I gave her a few moments of my time.

After she outlined her ideas and vision for her shop, I asked her what her marketing strategy was.

"Word of mouth," she replied.

Apparently she had spent all her funds on the build out and equipment and had nothing left for marketing.

I asked her what made her think her shop could take off in this location at this time.

"All my friends told me it sounded like a great idea," she replied.

I heard the death knoll ring out in her words.

I wondered if these were the same kind of friends who let you walk around with spinach in your teeth or toilet paper stuck on your shoe.

"Of course they think it's a good idea," I told her. "They're your FRIENDS. Who wants to squash their friend's dream?"

I gave her a few ideas to generate word of mouth and the name and number of a local newspaper editor. I advised her to get some money from her encouraging friends and buy a few ads.

She left my office a little put off by my blunt realism. She didn't even invite me to stop by the shop for a free cup of coffee.

Less than six months later, the shop closed.

A lot of people rely on a network of friends or associates for marketing advice. The problem is, no matter if you sell coffee or car parts, these people aren't going to tell you your idea stinks anymore than they'd say you have bad breath.

That's because they don't want to offend you. Ask your dentist and you'll likely get a more honest perspective -- and a solution.

So if you want to know if your branding stinks, ask a pro. In fact, email me and I'd be glad to give you a quick consultation.

And it won't even cost you a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Last Things, First

I'm at the AAPEX/SEMA/NACE trade shows in Las Vegas this week.
Every year while I’m away at Industry Week, I offer the same advice (sing along if you know the tune): 

Returning from exhibiting at or attending a tradeshow or special event?
Use your first day back like it's your last day at the event.

Remember: It's easy to get swept away catching up and put off following up.

But what's more important? The day-to-day grind -- or reminding that hot prospect that you’re one of the hundreds of exhibitors they saw last week at that big tradeshow?

Take a moment to jot a quick thank you note, send a catalog, or ship that sample you promised. Don’t let your follow-up get fouled up by competing priorities. Set your priority on contacting the hottest prospects first and working your way down the list. 

How do you know who's hottest? You should use a lead sheet that asks questions that will help you, like: When do you plan to buy? How many do you plan to buy? What other brands are you considering?

But try to avoid calling anyone you met at the trade show today. After all, they'll probably be as swamped catching up today, as you'll be -- tomorrow. 

(This means please don't be offended if I don't call you today: Be inspired.)