Friday, June 16, 2017

Don't Tell Your Customers About You... Tell Your Customers About Them

It’s hard to believe that half of 2017 has now taken place! 

With EXPERIENCE based out of Atlanta, we are always blessed with the dead heat of summer.  

At least so far this year, its not been as hot as it was last year.  I am sure that there are a host of Climate Change folks that are already coming up with exploratory theories.

As many of the readers know, EXPERIENCE is very active and involved with local Atlanta neighborhoods in forming and cultivating business networking groups.  

There are strong advocates of websites like that might cringe with the next comment, but when people relate in person … and even share some common geographic roots, the networking is so much richer.

One of the groups I participate in every Wednesday morning is anchored in the Piedmont Heights neighborhood in the core city of Atlanta. 

Members of the group include true locals from the immediate neighborhoods as well as others that are relatively new to Greater Atlanta and live nearby.  

The group has an enrichment of creative folks spanning the spectrum of architects to designers to creative directors to broadcast production folk. 

One of the members of the group, Harry Hayes, brought an interesting article to the discussion this past Wednesday that showcases the way many corporations and business groups define who they are and why they exist and how mechanical and rational and self-focused these vision/purpose/mission statements can be. 

I can totally connect with the article.

Back in the very first week of January this year, I was invited to meet with one of the largest insurance firms based in Atlanta.  

I was told that the firm was pondering just how much of a connected relationship it had with its clients.  I met with the chief partner initially when I arrived.

When I arrived and sat in the corporate lobby, I could not avoid reading large scripted posters that exalted the group’s vision, mission, purpose and values.  I pulled up their website on my iPhone and by damn the same personally dominated the home-page.

The deck Harry sent over was like a duplicate of this experience!  

Here are some examples from the deck Harry past over to me…

What the corporate team of an amusement park scripted… “Buy Tickets Now!  Our engineer’s new aviation-themed animatronic ride has been optimized for maximum attendee satisfaction.”

What the creative consultant team scripted that saved the amusement park’s butt… “Buy Tickets Now! Jump on. Strap in. Take off into the stratosphere for a high-velocity adventure full of heart-thumping surprises.”

EXPERINECE works extensively in the house and home marketplace.  Here’s another example that when I first read it, I thought that it might have been one of the prospective clients we pitched and did not receive.

Here's what the client had scripted… “Let’s get started. We’re proud of our commitment to quality custom home renovations, and our vision of exceeding expectations.”

Here’s what the team who must have twisted arms and issued threats finally got the shop mechanics to run with… “Let’s get started. You’re proud of your home, but you’d love ideas to enhance it – to reflect your vision, your style, and your life.”

There’s an ad agency in Atlanta that will go nameless who we are not currently in partnership anymore.  

The owners of the agency did not appreciate the fact that despite our counsel, they continued to pitch new business with a mirror of what the prospective client told them and failed to win new business.  When I personally told them that the role of an ad agency was to “rattle the cage” and move the business into the here and now, they found my commentary to be way too threatening.

That agency brought us in to pitch an HVAC company – heating, ventilation and air conditioning.  When I saw this example in the article, I thought that maybe the ad agency that won the account might have actually rattled the cage and this is the result of their work.

Here’s what the HVAC company was using… “Schedule an appointment. Our experience technicians will perform a house inspection detailing current HVAC system performance.”

Here’s what the website team got the HVAC company to use… “Schedule an appointment. Is wasted energy driving up your utility bills? Your Free Home Audit clearly identifies problems – and solutions.”

After I met with the insurance firm’s chief partner, the firms marketing guy came in.  

The chief partner shared with the marketing guy some of my commentary observations about the corporate mantra’s displayed in the lobby. 

The marketing guy immediately did not like me.  He went on to showcase to me all the rationale behind the scripting of their “brand message.”  He even had facilitated an off-site retreat with all the sales agents and what was displayed was the result of the weekend.

I knew right then that I likely would not be hearing back from this firm about any prospective partnership. 

Trust me, I often believe that my peers and I need to develop an AA type program to assist CMOs who are having to adapt to the process of “energizing their brands.”
By far the best case in the deck passed to me featured a bank.  EXPERIENCE works a lot with banks.  Financial management is very left-brain driven and in many ways, that is a good thing.  It’s just not a perspective that will generate much emotional brand engagement.

Here’s what the bank management told the website firm to use… “Find the best branch to serve you. Our banking specialists are offering home improvement loads at competitive rates to qualified borrowers.”


Here’s what the website firm came back with … and thank the dear Lord that the CEO listened to… “Which home project has been on your list the longest? Stop putting it off, and start showing it off, before rates go up.  Find the best branch to help you take center-stage.”

Gimme the iPhone!

I sometimes instruct clients... don't tell your customers about you... tell your customers about them.  

Very few clients initially understand the sharing. 

After I read through the article, I looked in a mirror and I could see just why EXPERIENCE survives as a business. 

Just like the global dynamics of politics today are not much different from the times of Rome and Greece… there’s a lot of brand opportunity to farm.