Paul Friederichsen is the founder of BrandBiz, a company that specializes in PR, media strategy and placement, sales incentives, training and mobile marketing as well as social media. Visit his website www.brandbizinc.com
Details, details, details
The devil is in the details. How often have you heard that expression, especially if something goes awry for a seemingly insignificant flaw: from tripping on an untied shoelace to a poorly designed O-ring on the Challenger shuttle. Historians say the 'unsinkable' Titanic may not have been wounded so mortally by an iceberg had some engineer many years earlier not skimped on the metallurgy specifications of the rivets. Ah, details, details, details.
A few years ago, I wrote a pamphlet entitled "Are You Ready For Your #1 Customer?" It was for Bliss by Beaulieu floor covering dealers and all about paying attention to details - some big, some small - and assessing your store's performance for each. For example, do you study your competitors? Does your website enable fast downloads? Do you offer a safe, fun play area for kids? And so on.
My anal obsession with details can be traced back to some wisdom I once read in a book about marketing. It was by Sergio Zyman, the former brilliant, flamboyant head of marketing for Coke. He summed it up this way: "Every detail either makes a sale or breaks a sale." I don't know if Sergio actually coined that, but whoever did was a genius. In fact, I would recommend that statement be made into a sign and hung in every break room or office in every floor covering dealer in America. Tattooing on foreheads is optional.
This emphasis on getting the details right is anchored in another old saw: Perception is reality. As consumers, we form our perception about an advertiser from a myriad of details; the composite of which provides a total picture of who we choose (or don't choose) to do business with. It starts with the grammar on your website, the warmth of the receptionist, the appearance of your showroom and completes with the personal hygiene of you or your salesman. Okay, I'm being a bit extreme perhaps, but it's important that we understand the subtleties, the interdependence, and the cumulative effect of this chain of details that results in a sale. Or not. Let's face it, the reality may be that you have the widest selection of carpet, the best installers in the business or the smartest on-staff designer - but that cigarette-breath is a real customer killer.
And never, never, never be guilty of saying what I heard a client admit to recently. They observed that their ad "could be better" and that while it may not generate a lot of business "it probably won't hurt business" either. Uh-hmm ... in today's ultra-competitive business climate, can anyone really afford to be so dismissive? Let's all agree that being technologically savvy in reaching your customers online is good. Being strategically thoughtful on how you position your store vis-a'vis the competition is definitely worthwhile. And being creative with your presentation has obvious advantages. Just don't forget the details.