Not pissing off engaged consumers should be point one on everybody’s marketing plan.
Let me tell you a story which proves that this isn’t always adhered to.
Allow me to set the scene.
A brochure for a local arts venue landed on my doormat on Thursday last week.
I’m a paid ‘Friend’ of this particular theatre and cinema complex. I mean, I’ve got a card with a membership number and everything. I am official.
That makes me an engaged consumer. In fact, it’s one step away from being an advocate.
So, having browsed through the aforementioned brochure, imagine my delight when there are three separate performances that I want to go and see.
Off I trot, early Saturday morning, crisp currency clutched in my little hand, whistling a happy tune as I picture the theatrical delights in store.
“I’d like to book three shows”, I said to the smiling woman behind the kiosk counter.
“Ahh,” said she with a look. “Let me just check something with the general manager.”
Story time, my friends, is now over. Let the marketing lesson begin.
When she reappeared, it transpired that the tickets I wanted were not on sale yet.
Let me get this straight.
As a paid up ‘Friend’ of the brand, I get an early look at the forthcoming attractions. Yet, when the brochure hits my mat, what I want is not available for purchase, there and then, while the blood is hotly coursing through my veins and coins are burning a hole in my pocket.
There’s not even a disclaimer stating when they will be on sale.
In fact, I have to wait until they go on general release to the unfriended, non-card-carrying, masses before I can buy some myself.
This is not only a customer service fail, but it’s a marketing fail as well.
As marketers, we need to ensure that when we encourage our customers to book/buy something, that it’s available for them to do so (Apple aside. They’ve got a great over-demand under-supply strategy going on).
We need to ensure that when our customers have currency in their hands, that they can spend it with us, there and then.
And if they’ve paid for a privilege of early access, we need to ensure that we recognise this with special treatment – that the promise we’ve made them, implicit with their ‘Friend’-ing of our brand, is maintained.
The main part of our marketing cycle should be ensuring that all parts of the customer journey line up – not just making everything look pretty and making the tactics clever.
If we get distracted by tight graphics, natty tactics or a clever website, we’re likely to forget exactly what it is that we should be doing.
That is to say ensuring that prospect is moved to returning customer in the smoothest way possible.
When we’re not able to back up our promise, that’s when the process breaks.
That’s when we lose customers.
That’s when we start wondering way numbers are dropping even when we’re getting everything out on time, on budget and on message.
The moment we forget a single part of our customer’s journey is the moment everything falls down and no clever tactic in the world can bring it back.
In a world of multivariate consumer choice, we don’t get many second chances.
It’s far better, therefore, to make sure that we’ve got everything lined up before we go to market so that we don’t drop that first-chance-ball.
The market is unforgiving.
Your strategic and tactical approaches need to be even more unforgiving than the market.
Leave nothing to chance, otherwise you run the chance that your customer will leave you…
Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.
Featured image for this post comes from llauren’s Flickr photostream under Creative Commons.