Which brings to mind my favorite marketing story. About 10 years ago I happened upon a magazine article. Unfortunately I don’t remember the magazine or the author, but the article’s message is forever riveted in my brain. Here’s the gist:
A fellow owned a small remodeling company. He had struggled for years trying to find the right mix of advertising using traditional methods. Finally, one year he got fed up with pouring all that money into advertising, which may or may not have been working. He knew, however, with 100% certainty, that most of his customers came to him by way of referrals from other satisfied customers.
And so he had a radical thought: what if I stop paying for all those advertisements and instead invest that money in follow-up customer service?
His plan was to call every customer a month or so after their job was completed and ask how things were going. Specifically, were there any problems? Were they satisfied with the quality of his work? How well did his personnel treat them?
This accomplished two things:
- It gave him feedback on his crew and workmanship.
- It gave him a chance to correct problems.
If there was a problem, even if it may not have been his, he graciously offered to come back and fix it, free. This fellow’s business skyrocketed.
Can you imagine? What if a company did this for you? And what if it actually did come back and cheerfully fix the problems — for free? If a company ever went that far above and beyond for me, I would go out of my way to tell friends and associates all about it.
Remember the old saying: a person rarely talks about a good job, but will complain about a bad job until their dying day. My dad is a great example of this. He bought a set of tires from a nationally recognized company in the 1970s. One tire blew out in the sidewall. The company gave him the runaround and would not make it right. To this day, my dad has not gone back and takes great pleasure in telling all his friends about that company’s shoddy products and poor service.
To summarize: the basic fundamental of all marketing is to have customers seek you out. This can’t happen unless:
- They know you exist.
- They feel comfortable that you’re trustworthy and competent.
Traditional marketing methods are poor at accomplishing this. Word of mouth referrals, however, work like magic.
Tim K. Garrison P.E. of ConstructionCalc.com has authored books and short courses and lectures on topics relevant to builders. Got a technical or management issue? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim reads every one.
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The views expressed in this article represent the personal views, statements and opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, statements, opinions or policies of the National Association of Home Builders. NAHB does not necessarily endorse any of the views expressed by the author and NAHB is not responsible for any direct or indirect consequences arising out of the views expressed in this article.
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