Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Don’t Let This Happen to You

I got an official looking notice in the mail the other day. The outside envelope was colored “parking ticket orange” and there was a bunch of semi-official lingo printed there along with a return address of “The Offices of Records of Declaration/Disbursements Division.”

Junk mail? You betcha. It was a direct mail piece trying to get me to shop for a new car. It promised me an auto loan of up to $39,000.

But that’s not what surprised me. Believe it or not, there was something in the accompanying letter that surprised and shocked me enough to want to write about it.

The letter was personalized - extremely personalized. They knew that I had purchased a car pretty recently, what my payments are, and even at what rate. But that still didn’t shock me.

What got me was when they wrote that they knew I was paying an estimated rate of 1.89% rate, but they were offering me the opportunity to lower my payments by reducing my interest rate to as low as 3.99% APR.

So they’ll save me money by raising my rate! In other words, they didn’t even bother qualifying their leads! They spent money designing a piece and obtaining a list with significant personal data, and didn’t bother checking that data to see who would be a likely prospect!

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

How much time would it have taken them to check? The time necessary to do a lookup and sort in Excel? They might have saved hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on how many pieces were mailed out.

Obviously it wasn’t that important to them to fine tune their marketing or they would have done it. But it might have increased their response rate if they’d bothered to expend a little thought and effort on their mailing list.

Very often it’s the little things that make all the difference in how something is perceived. I heard that if you’re trying to sell your home, the color you paint the front door can make a huge difference in the success of finding a buyer. We’re talking double digit percentages - just from painting a door. (It's even better than having bread baking in the oven!)

If you have a business, then you know the importance of small gestures in building relationships with customers. A smiled greeting, helpful, responsive and knowledgeable staff, a clean and pleasant environment - these all build loyalty and good will. 

But going the extra little bit to make a customer feel special - well that's a whole different ball game. 

Achy, Stinky Feet - or - DO Sweat the Small Stuff

There's a certain type of gel insert I use in my shoes, sold at Bestsoleinc.com

There are two experiences I've had with them that illustrate "Sweating the Small Stuff."

Story #1:
I first met them years ago at a trade show at New York's Javitz Center. 

They had a booth showing their products. As I walked by, one of the extremely pleasant staff stopped me and asked if I ever had problems with my feet or back (which I did).

She then proceeded to ask me to take off my shoes and hand 'em over. I was a little surprised. I mean, I don't have especially stinky feet, but I had been walking around Manhattan and the Javitz Center for hours and said as much. She just smiled and said it was no problem. She then removed my old inner soles (yuck) and popped in a pair of their incredible inserts and told me to try them out. 

They felt amazing and I bought them on the spot. (And no, I haven’t received samples or renumeration for mentioning their product.)

Story #2. 
I recently ordered a new pair online. They have a running promotion for repeat customers - if you enter a promo code you get $10 off. But I didn't have my code and I needed the inserts so I placed the order without it. 
One of their great reps contacted me and said they had overcharged me. As an existing customer I was entitled to my discount! Since the order was placed through an automated system, I had to contact them for refund. So I did! You can bet they'll get more business from me in the future. 

Take away lessons:

1) Do you believe in your product or business enough to handle the smelly shoes of thousands of convention goers?

2) If someone overpaid you, would you return the difference as a matter of customer service?

Little things - those small touches of professionalism, sparkle and polish - will set you apart from the pack. 

But only if you remember to do them. 

What do you think? I’d love to hear!

Danny Kay is marketing and advertising professional as well as a designer and photographer with over 25 years of experience. He's worked with businesses and organizations of all sizes, up to Fortune 500.

He can be reached through his website, www.dannykaydesign.com, or at dannykay@mac.com.

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