Service vs. Servitude
Jenny’s town has a population of about 2500. It’s half an hour from the city. She helps support her family with her job at the full service hardware store chain.
The company sends out direct mail pieces about four times each year and I saw something that caught my eye. I often caution clients on the effectiveness of direct mail.
I'm not against it per se but when a new client is already using direct mail or an existing client is thinking about it, I think it’s imperative that I outline realistic results.
The thin line between a great deal and junk mail
A successful direct mail campaign may bring you 5-10% return. It remains a hugely popular (and potentially expensive) medium but we have to remember realistic results.
As with many companies, this direct mail piece was part of an overall cross media campaign that included television, radio and online components. I had not seen or heard any of those before seeing their 20 page flyer featuring dozens of sale items.
Part of the gig
I skim through all direct mail that comes to my house because there are potential prospects and possible ideas for clients. But I rarely buy anything because direct mail is a passive medium. It attempts to create need where there isn’t any there, or as in my case, there is a serendipity between the recipient and an item featured in the piece.
I was interested to see if they had the item I was looking for on sale. And perhaps for the first time in recent memory, they did. I had an hour window in my schedule the next day so I dropped by the store between meetings. I found the item I wanted and with flyer in one hand and the item in the other I took it to the cash.
Then I met Jenny
She looked at me and as if we had known each other our entire lives said “Sorry dude, that sale starts tomorrow.” I had clearly not read the fine print so I turned around to return the item to the shelf. Jenny stopped me and said “Hang on, come back here.” Both quips may sound flippant but it was all in the way she carried herself and her friendly tone that made it alright.
As I walked up to the cash I then noticed the banner at the bottom that read - 'Sale this Friday only'. I handed it to Jenny. She said “hang on, that’s wrong, the sale is on this weekend and all next week.” She then asked to take my copy and replaced it with hers as she wanted to tell her manager about the error. She could have simply told me the sale wasn’t on yet and went on with her day. No, Jenny took ownership and pride in her store and her customer.
One more try
I returned the next day to a packed store. Customers were holding onto the flyer as they weaved through the crowd to find their deals. I walked up and found the item again and walked up to the cash. As luck would have it, I got Jenny again.
I thanked her for her help the day before and she said “Do you know how many people I meet on daily basis?” then she paused and said “Oh you’re the guy who brought in the wrong flyer! I told my manager and he called head office.”
You can't fake this stuff
During my two minutes at the cash, three employees asked Jenny for the location of an item and she helped an elderly woman put her purchase in her cart. This was just as much Jenny’s store as anyone else’s and she navigated it with poise and passion. She genuinely liked working there and she got herself another return customer.
Take a long hard look at your marketing budget and decipher what activities help grow your business. Then take another look around to see if Jenny has your back. Your people are your biggest marketing asset ...or deficit.
Will your company will pass the test?
knealemann | email
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image credits: corbis | getty