Several years ago, I was meeting with the owner of a commercial landscaping company. His business had several crews on the road taking care of the grounds at large condominium complexes and the like. They were true professionals, did great work, and were considering becoming an AdServices client.
On that particular day, this gentleman was lamenting that his advertising just wasn’t generating the kind of response he wanted. So I asked him a probing question: “Why would a property manager or condo association hire your company instead of one of your competitors?” His reply was “We’re totally committed to customer satisfaction. If our customer isn’t happy, we’ll turn the truck around, bring the whole team back, and re-do anything they want.”
“Brilliant!” I said. “There’s your marketing message.” Let’s do a direct mail campaign and make that the first thing people see on your web site. The approach will be: “If you’re not thrilled with our work, call within 48 hours. We’ll return and make it right – no charge.”
“Are you crazy?” the prospective client replied. “People will take advantage of us. Our scheduling will be all out of whack. Our dispatchers and our guys won’t know how to prioritize. We can’t do that.”
That incident, and a few others like it that I’ve had in my career, point out one reason why some promotional efforts just don’t work.
Sure, companies can play safe in their marketing. They can use slogans and headlines like “Quality. Integrity. Service.” But mediocre messaging typically returns mediocre results. People just don’t remember plain vanilla advertising. And only if all the factors align just perfectly are they likely to call.
When FedEx promised that they’d take care of my package when it “Absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” it got my attention. The contractor that says “We’ll be there within a one-hour window or you don’t pay” makes me say “Wow.” Are there risks involved with such claims? You bet.
Effective marketing takes guts. It also requires commitment from every department in the company – not just the ad people. The upside far outweighs the downside, however. So be bold, prepare properly throughout the organization, and then get ready to answer the phone.
Expecting great things,
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