[Mannes on Marketing] Your New Secret Marketing Weapon

Columns - Mannes on Marketing

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November 20, 2009

Your New Secret Marketing Weapon

As we move into the holiday season, I’m certainly reminded of the many things I am thankful for — a fabulous family, wonderful work life, friends and business colleagues who I am blessed to have, and of course, good health.

In my work life, I’m grateful for customers. Customers who like us, customers we learn from, customers we service and potential customers.

Why share this with you? Because I think if we did a poll we’d all be thankful for the same things. And in our work life that would be customers. I would challenge you that maybe we don’t always share our gratitude with our customers. Maybe there is a secret weapon out there to grow them, keep them and separate ourselves from the competition — how about good, old-fashioned good manners? How about a simple "thank you"?

REAL PEOPLE! In our automated world today, where it is virtually impossible to talk with a human via the phone or on many of the Web sites out there, we have an opportunity. As we all know, we are really in the people business. We are in their homes taking care of their property, providing them with an unparalleled quality of life by world standards, and in some cases even walking their dogs and carrying their house keys.

The fact is, people want to buy from people. Being customer focused in today’s world is a marketing strategy that never goes out of style. As I’m building our 2010 marketing plan, I keep coming back to the basics. There are a myriad of tools out there for marketing today and I’m a strong believer in the integrated approach — never putting all your eggs in one basket. But I’m also a strong believer in the power of those two little words — "thank you."

Marketing is not just about a media mix or social media. Marketing begins the moment each of us goes out the door every day and talks to the public about our business or thanks our customers for their business. Your "face" may only be on the phone, but a personalized thank you note may be your secret weapon.

As I’ve spoken with many pest control companies of different sizes, a resounding issue for some of our smaller companies is "I can’t afford a marketing plan." But everyone can afford thank you cards. You can afford to train each and every one of your employees to say "thank you" each and every day to each and every customer. And you can afford to work towards a culture in your company where "thank you" becomes as much a part of your employees’ day as "good morning."

A PERSONAL TOUCH. Being polite, having manners, showing respect for a customer’s property are all ways to say "thank you for your business." The "thank you" marketing strategy can be a very powerful weapon. When was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? How did that make you feel?

Try it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Train your employees to thank customers for the opportunity to service them as the first part of every conversation.

When communicating via the Web, immediately send a "thank you" e-mail as the first part of your communication with them. Continue to show your appreciation by providing unparalleled customer service. Your opportunity to shine may be in the form of solving a new pest problem for them or retreating in a positive friendly manner if necessary. Basic good manners are so important. Your cost for good manners — free. The end result — priceless.

Consider Thanksgiving cards instead of traditional holiday cards. You may have a better chance of standing out with your big "thanks."

Family businesses, good, old-fashioned manners and creative ways to thank our customers — they all go together. I wish each of you a very happy and healthy holiday season. And thank you for the opportunity to work in this great industry with so many wonderful people. I am thankful.

The author is chief marketing and strategy officer for Arrow Exterminators, Atlanta, and can be contacted at cmannes@giemedia.com.