May 4, 2011
How to spoil all your marketing efforts .. and lose a potential £20,000 contract
Here’s a true story that could happen in any business. In this case it happen to a large business … but similar things happen in small businesses every day.
It always amazes me how some businesses spend a fortune on their brand and marketing only to blow it all by not thinking of their potential customers as people.
Let me give you an example I recently came across.
A very big business I know of has spent a lot on it’s website, blogs, social networking, advertising etc. and they look impressive.
In fact they look so impressive one of my clients recently contacted them when considering putting a job out to tender. They needed the professional services the big company offered and had budgeted £20,000 a year for the service to be supplied.
My client works for a sizeable business, one of those businesses that is a household name, and needed three or four businesses to tender for the work. They would then recommend their choice to the board.
Four companies were approached by email with some questions about their approach to various issues. It was the first stage of deciding who to invite to tender. The first three were medium sized players in this specialist market, mentioned a named contact on their websites and when this person was contacted by email they emailed or phoned back for more details very quickly.
In each of these cases the responses were professional but friendly and addressed my client by name. My client felt at ease and happy to ultimately invite them to tender. On the basis of first impressions my client would have been happy to work with any of them.
The big company didn’t provide any staff names on their website. You had to email them via firstname.lastname@example.org and they then sent back an email saying, “Your enquiry is important to us. We will reply within 2-3 days”. There was no thanks for your enquiry, no attempt to use my client’s name or be friendly.
Of course the big company had a process they kept to. They had won awards for it.
The only problem is that the big company forgot that people staffed the household name that had contacted them. People with names, personalities and feelings.
My client felt they were being processed … and they didn’t feel at ease. In fact they decided that this was probably how it would always be working with the big company. They decided they didn’t want to be part of a process.
So the big company wasn’t invited to tender.
The moral is that people prefer to do business with those they know, like, trust and respect. People really don’t want an impersonal automated email response and the promise of a reply in 2-3 days.
Of course there is fundamentally nothing wrong with an automated system provided it is used sensitively. Many of us use an “out of office” response on our emails or our voicemail; but we keep it friendly, and follow up with a response very quickly. In fact one of the smaller companies sent a quick email saying they were unavailable as they were covering for a sick colleague; then the next day, when they also went sick, asked someone else to contact my client. The difference is it was obvious they cared.
So before blowing a lot of money on marketing give some thought to the way you treat customers … by email, phone or in person.
Remember courtesy and a smile cost nothing …. but can win a lot of business.