Over lunch last week, a marketing friend told me she had received a complaint from a frequent visitor to her destination about a shop owner. It seems the shop owner asked the visitor to not sit on the bench in front of his store, unless she was a paying customer of his business.
Very simply: The shop owner lost more than that potential customer. He lost the business of her friends, he lost all previous efforts of community good will and he lost a great opportunity. A simple act of kindness could have saved the day — a free sample, a smile, the offer of a bag to carry her items, a coupon or a word of greeting could very well have made the difference in the perception of the visitor.
Years ago, I worked with major clients who would easily spend millions of dollars on their marketing campaigns. As the advertising agency, my department could often perform miracles on behalf of the client — producing marketing materials that won awards, finding printing deals that made the clients smile, billboards that practically sparkled with their genius and creativity. But while we gladly spent their marketing dollars, we were also insistent that the cheapest — and best — form of marketing was customer service. Without that, their millions were worth nothing.
In a completely different realm, I worked as a hostess in a local restaurant, and assisted a harried wait staff. I had certain requirements, but often found that my job had great possibilities. I made time for the customers, sang “Happy Birthday”, made special folded napkins for the kids and well, had fun doing it. The reward? Regular patrons to the restaurant, bigger tips for the wait staff (which they shared!) and an enjoyable job for me.
Want to spend little on marketing your business as you start to grow? Just welcome your customers with a smile and offer them a seat.