What is the most vital marketing expense that you have? This is something so simple and so basic that all other money spent on marketing is wasted if this isn’t in place.
“Ah… I see what he’s doing there. He’s a marketing guy and he’s going to pitch me on his services….”
Nope. In fact, the most important marketing expense for any company can’t be bought from me or any marketing company.
A marketing lesson from a child
My wife and I were discussing her recent interaction with a local sewing store.
I can’t imagine the trouble a store like that must have keeping the doors open. Look at the barriers.
- small community to service.
- high overhead for rent, payroll and stock
- stiff competition from larger craft and hobby stores
- even stiffer competition from online giants such as amazon.com
My wife called looking for a sewing machine part. The person who answered the phone seemed, according to my wife, annoyed to take the call and answer her questions. She got off the phone feeling dumb.
And… she decided to order the part on Amazon.
Although the item was more expensive than the online version, up until that phone call, she was willing to pay more to support a local, small store. Until she was made that her business wasn’t wanted.
My daughter from the back seat heard about this and decided to blog about customer service.
Eleven-year-old snark aside, she did bring to light this fact.
Your most important marketing expense is your front desk person.
That fancy website, the big Yellow Pages ad (do people still do that?!), all of those expensive mailers are worthless if the front desk lets you down.
Why? Your potential customer’s first interaction with you is the front desk. If that person is lackadaisical, unfriendly or God help you rude, then the customer will assume that this attitude prevails throughout your entire company. And they will find better customer service elsewhere.
This position is factually even more important than a sales force. Poorly done, the sales force will never get any leads.
For great results, the front desk and anyone answering the phone must handle clients as if they were the owner of the company.
Key takeaways for small businesses
- Answer your own phone for a few hours. Note how many leads you get and how many new or existing clients are scheduled for service or sold on the spot.
- Have your front desk keep track of their own numbers.
- Where there is a discrepancy, you are losing money at the front desk.
- Do whatever needs to be done to keep your front desk cheerful, helpful and in-the-know about your products and services. I recommend a bonus system based on leads, sales and schedules. Provide them with lists of services, prices and answers to common questions.
- Never tolerate poor customer service at the entry point to your business.
Jerold Panas has pointed out that it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression.
Listen to your front desk while clocking that 7 seconds. Is it the best possible 7 seconds you can give your new clients? If not, do whatever it takes to fix it and watch the rest of your marketing become much more effective.