By Brian H Meredith
From the NZBusiness"Marketing Maestro" Archive
First published May 2012
Should we, or should we not, sweat the small stuff? Seems to depend entirely on whom you ask or whose opinion you seek out online, in books, journals or whatever. It also depends on what aspect of our lives we are applying the question to.
I have a heartfelt plea that goes out to every business and organisation in our wonderful country that, if heard and heeded, will, I promise you, achieve untold good for us all. My plea is, simply this – do sweat the small stuff – sweat it big time.
Specifically, please do sweat the small stuff surrounding the way in which your business behaves – behaves in every tiny way, every moment of every day.
Please do sweat the stuff that engages in the most visible set of behaviours – the people in your business (and that includes yourself, dear reader!)
Please don’t completely ignore 2 emails and 2 txts from a potential customer who saw the name of your business on one of your liveried vehicles, was impressed with its professional look and so noted the phone number and email address and subsequently tried to contact you.
Please don’t run Open Homes for newly built houses on sub-divisions where your other sections currently being or still to be built on are in a disgusting, third world state of presentation, with excessive amounts of rubbish, discarded building materials, overgrown grass and weeds etc.
Please don’t get stroppy and argumentative with a customer who asks you what the marketing lesson is when you have just told him that a particular garment that has dominated your store window for weeks and which your store had promised would be in stock by now and they would call you when it arrived is not, in fact, going to arrive, ever, “’cos it got lost in Australia” and “anyway, just ‘cos we have a picture of it doesn’t mean we have it – it’s just there to reflect the Ralph Lauren lifestyle” (oops, there I go again, naming names).
And please, if the customer then seeks out the manager to express his concern at being abused, do not trounce belligerently up to the counter and challenge the customer about why he is talking to the Manager and demand to know what he is saying.
Please try to avoid telling a customer who has waited 15 minutes for two flat whites that if he understood anything about espresso based coffee he would know how long it takes because the risk is that the customer will have himself owned cafes where accolades were stacked high for their espresso making skills.
Please don’t launch your wonderfully sexy little slim line latest version of PlayStation with a whole bunch of promotional material showing the exquisitely stylish box sitting snugly and elegantly in its custom designed stand and then have a bunch of spotty faced youths in several retail stockists tell the customer, with no apparent concern (or even signs of intelligent life) that the stands aren’t available in New Zealand yet and won’t be for some time yet. This is particularly irksome when the customer then continues to be exposed to promotional material for weeks and weeks afterwards showing a stand that he still can’t have.
“Behaviours stem from attitudes, which are, in turn, formed by many things, including friends, family, society, experience and learning. Attitudes can also be affected by what the company communicates to position itself favourably in the minds of its audiences.
Attitudes drive the behaviours that lead to purchase and the opportunity to work together to develop yet more value for one another. This is a relationship and relationships are “the most valuable of all intangibles”, according to Ian Gordon ‘s “Relationship Marketing” (Gordon, Ian. Relationship Marketing: New Strategies, Techniques and Technologies to Win the Customers You Want and Keep Them Forever. Wiley, 1998. Print)
Here are some thoughts for you.
The managers of the businesses above have clearly failed to understand the core principles inherent in Ian Gordon’s description of “relationships” They and/or their people are falling at the very first hurdle of face-to-face selling and they all did so in a period of just a few days recently. A pretty shabby demonstration of New Zealand business excellence.
As I am guilty of saying at every opportunity, this is not rocket science. Rather, the behaviours engaged in by your business and its people are the raw materials of relationships and without relationships you are, ultimately, nothing.
A business may survive for a while for a whole bunch of reasons but, ultimately, if your behaviours fail to encourage customers and prospects to want enter into a relationship with you (and even a single transaction or purchase is, in itself, the beginning of a relationship) then you will, ultimately, fail.
There are many variables that we have to face as business owners and managers and many of them are beyond our control. However, the power of behaviour management is that it is completely within our control. And when it comes to staff, it must begin with the right attitude as the non-negotiable base on which to build the rest.
So my final plea is this. When hiring staff, always, always remember:
Hire Attitude. Train skills.