Either they trust you or they don’t

May 3, 2011



  • Marketing
  • The art of selling
  • Customer loyalty
  • Brand promise
  • Social credibility

All very important concepts on this blog.  And in your organization. At the core of every one of them is trust.  Or the lack thereof.

Think of any relationship you have — personal or professional.  How close you feel to that person is directly correlated to how much you trust them.  The deeper the trust, the deeper the relationship.  And the deeper the relationship, the more likely it is to be long lasting.  Which from your business’ point of view translates to more profitable. (This works the same with employees, by the way)

The only thing more painful that being in a relationship where you are not trusted… is being in a relationship where you cannot trust.  In fact, no real relationship can exist where trust does not.

So sooner or later… it will go away.

Notice that I didn’t say like, love, respect, or admire.  We can like or even love someone and not trust them.  We can respect someone’s work or intelligence and not trust them.  We can even admire someone’s abilities or talents and still not trust them.

I can be the most innovative, proactive, on the cutting edge, smartest marketing guy in the world — but if you don’t trust me and believe that I have your best interest at heart — you simply won’t be able to do business with me over the long haul.

Why?  Because there will always be that nagging doubt.  You will always question my sincerity.  You will see hidden motives and meanings, even if they don’t exist.  Even when I offer rationale and truthful explanations — you’ll wonder what’s underneath.

Trust defies logic, fact and truth.  It’s all about the gut.  Factually accurate or not — it is innate in nature.

I know with certainty (and you know this about your company as well) that clients hire us based on how they feel about us.  And in our case, being a marketing agency — they are bringing their hopes, dreams, fears, baggage, dirty laundry and secrets with them.  They are hoping like crazy that they can spill that bag onto our conference room table and let us see it all and help them sort it out.

But first, they need to decide if they trust us.  Do we really care or are we just trying to get their money?  And your clients are asking themselves the same questions about you.

So how do you create an atmosphere of trust?  How do you reassure prospects and current clients that you’re worthy of their trust?

Be human: We make mistakes.  We don’t know all the answers.  We forget things.  When any of those happen with a client — say so.  And point it out before they notice.

Example:  I honestly don’t know how to get our software to give you the information you need.  But, I’m on it and will report back.

Be honest about what you can/can’t do: You’re not the best at everything.  You have strengths and weaknesses as an organization.  Disclose those and show how you overcome them.

Example:  Our strength is really in the writing and directing sides of things.  We partner with a very good videographer to shoot.  Their costs are already included in the estimate.

Care: Don’t say that you care — actually care.  And caring is an action verb.  Do things that demonstrate that your customer’s best interests matter to you.  Go out of your way.  Regularly.

Example:  We didn’t replace the gasket because we couldn’t get your car to act up the way you described.  So, we called the dealership and they didn’t know.  Then, we called Ford and they faxed us some information and it turns out, it was your flibberdejibbit.

Behave in a way that creates trust: Trust is strengthened or weakened by actions.  There’s a reason we all know the axiom — actions speak louder than words.  It’s harder to mask true intentions in a behavior than it is to sugar coat some words.

Examples:  Create simple, easy to understand invoices.  Always be happy to over explain when a customer has a question about your process, your costs or your intentions.

We want to create love affairs with our customers.  That can’t happen without earning their trust.  Trust is what drives word of mouth.  Trust is what earns loyalty.  And trust is at the heart of any relationship worth having.

Note: Today (May 3rd) is the International Day of Trust.  You can read more about it on the Entente site or their Facebook page.  This also ties very nicely into a project I’ve been working on with some friends — the Connection Agency.

So today — imagine a world built upon trust.  Feels pretty cool to me.  Maybe tomorrow we can start to build it?

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There’s actually a person on the other side

March 24, 2011

90685679 300x155
You can’t do it all from the box

It’s incredible that you can now do business with anyone on the globe.  It opens up amazing possibilities for all of us.

It also creates some new challenges.

We launched a very complex and challenging project with a new vendor recently.  It was complicated by the fact that it’s outside our area of expertise — but we still needed to drive it from a project management and brand perspective.

What we needed was very specialized and there aren’t too many proven choices out there.  So we selected a vendor who clearly had the skills we needed.  We contracted with them and the work began.  Then, this sequence of events happened.

  1. They sent us an e-mail, outlining what they needed from us.
  2. I sent an e-mail back, admitting that I was nervous about the project due to our lack of knowledge — and could we please talk it through on the phone.
  3. They wrote back and said they preferred to do everything via e-mail so there was a record and no details would be missed.
  4. I said… I was all for capturing the details but I have some overarching questions and want to give them a better sense of what we’re trying to do, big picture.
  5. They wrote back — great, e-mail us your questions and tell us about the big picture.
  6. I did this to the best of my ability — which I believe wasn’t all that hot.  I just didn’t know enough.
  7. They asked us how we wanted to handle a technical issue.  I said…I have no idea.  We need your recommendation.
  8. They gave us a recommendation and we took it.
  9. 2 weeks later — it turns out their recommendation was wrong.  Had we talked on the phone and explored the project together — they would have made a different recommendation.
  10. We have to make a change, based on a new recommendation.
  11. Oops…turns out their 2nd recommendation was also not quite right, because they didn’t know enough about what we were trying to do — and I didn’t know enough to tell them what they really needed to know.
  12. 3rd recommendation is fine.  Project is complete.  But…they had to do a lot of extra work and take a lot of extra time that they could have saved — if we’d had that initial phone call.

Every project should begin with a phone conversation.  I don’t care how tech savvy you are.  I don’t care how simple the project.

Do not hide behind your computer with the excuse of capturing details or efficiency.  I don’t care how much you prefer e-mail — when a client asks to talk to you on the phone — talk to them.  They are no more interested in chatting than you are.  You will learn so much more in a phone conversation — because you can ask questions, and based on those answers — ask more questions.

Even if it’s just because the client is worried — talk to them.

It sounds pretty basic doesn’t it?  But it’s happening more and more.   I can hear you in the comments section now — “duh, Drew.  When they wouldn’t talk to you on the phone — big red flag.”

I know it.  I knew it then.  But, I kept trusting their process rather than that nagging voice in my head.

My mistake is your marketing lesson.  Don’t do this to your clients and don’t do business with anyone who does it to you.

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Things are not rosy at FTD!

February 16, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day?

Like many of you probably did, I grabbed a couple of the Groupon deals for FTD to help manage the Valentine’s Day floral budget.  (Yes, I gave some local florists my money too)

Let me say this — I feel sorry for any business that has killer days like florists do.  I am sure Valentine’s Day is a nightmare for them.  However… it’s not like it’s a big surprise.  So they should be ready for it, right?

When one of the arrangements I had ordered hadn’t arrived at 7 pm, I called their 800 number.  The first message I got was that they were very busy and it would be 15 minutes before I could speak with someone.  Then, a couple minutes later, the recorded voice came back on the line and said, due to the volume of calls and it being Valentine’s Day, they would not be able to answer my call and promptly disconnected me.


I called back and held for over 30 minutes. Somehow, I dodged the hang-up.  I have no idea how long I would have continued to wait — I got word that the flowers had finally arrived and so I hung up.

Not a good day for FTD.  But wait…

This morning, the flowers are wilted.  I am talking D-E-A-D.  Even with the coupon, they were $50 so I call the 800 number.  This is really how the conversation went.

FTD guy:  How may I help you?

Drew:  I ordered flowers that were delivered yesterday and this morning, they are all wilted.

FTD guy:  I am very sorry to hear that Sir.

Drew:  Thank you.  What can we do about it?

FTD guy:  May I have the order number?

Drew:  FRK372912

FTD guy:  May I have your full name?

Drew:  Drew McLellan

FTD guy:  Thank you, Mr. McLellan. May I have your billing address?

Drew : I give him the address.

FTD guy:  Thank you Mr. McLellan.  May I have your phone number?

Drew:  I give him the phone number.

FTD guy:  Thank you Mr. McLellan.  May I have the recipient’s name?

Drew:  I give him the name.

FTD guy:  Thank you Mr. McLellan. May I have the recipient’s address?

Drew:  I don’t have it handy.

FTD guy:  I’m sorry Mr. McLellan but I am trying to verify the order.

Drew:  Wait a second — I have told you the order number, my name, address, phone number and the recipient’s name.  Isn’t that enough information to verify the order?

FTD guy:  I really do need to verify the order, Mr. McLellan.  (by now…we’ve had enough Mr. McLellans)

Drew:  Seriously — you think there might be two orders with the identical order number, buyer and recipient?  You are looking at the order on your computer, aren’t you?

FTD guy:  Yes Mr. McLellan, I am.

Drew:  Have I gotten any of the questions wrong yet?

FTD guy:  No, Mr. McLellan.  Should I wait while you get the recipient’s address?

Insanity.  Pure insanity. This is a man who is following a script, no matter how ridiculous it is.  He doesn’t care about my order, my frustration or my repeat business. (I kept wondering how call center expert Tom Vander Well would react to this.)

I told him I didn’t have the address with me and couldn’t get it.  Yes, I was being churlish.  But come on.  So you know what he made me do to finally verify the order?  I will send flowers to the first correct guesser.  (But not from FTD)

My point — when something goes wrong, you have a huge opportunity to win a customer for life. (read how Disney says I’m sorry) But you don’t get a second chance.  You cannot add insult to the injury.   FTD lost more than my $50.  They lost the chance to begin to create a love affair with me.  That cost them a lot more than $50.

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Using personas to shift your focus to the customer

January 31, 2011

106498980 If you look at most marketing copy — it's about the "thing" — whatever is being sold.  We get features and generic benefits but our focus and the thrust of the message sits squarely on the shoulders of the product or service.

And it's no wonder.  When you focus on something, you tend to write/talk about it.

Let's demonstrate.

If I asked you to write a headline for an ad selling these red shoes to the right — what would your headline say?

(Seriously, take a couple minutes and jot a few down…play along!)

Okay, for many of you your headlines probably ran along the lines of:

  • Isn't it time to get sassy?  
  • Give your feet some sassy for Valentine's Day 
  • Stop traffic without lifting a finger

Nothing wrong with those…but they are a bit generic.  They be be speaking to anyone of any age, income bracket, marital status, etc.

Why?  Because we don't actually know who we're talking to…other than we probably assumed it was a woman, so the copy tends to be generic.  The more generic your audience (in your mind) the more generic the copy.  Which forces us to focus on the "thing."

Which is why personas are so critical to your marketing success.  Do you know who your business is talking to?  And don't say everyone.  Every business should know who their best customers are.  These are the people who create the core of your customer base.  Creating personas based on this customer base is critical to targeting your message.  I wrote about personas and shared some examples a few years back. (click on the link to read).

Let's try the shoe example again but now I'm going to tell you about the customer.  Her name is Leslie and she's 15.  She's in that awkward half girl/half woman stage and she wants to grow up so badly.  She's a good kid, active in school and loves to hang at the mall with her friends.  She spends much of her free time texting, reading fashion magazines and watching MTV's reality shows.  

I could add (and should if this was a real persona) much more depth but you get the idea. Now try your headline again.

Mine might be:  Your dad is going to hate these shoes

Very specific and very much about my audience — rather than about the product.  That's what personas do.  They shift our focus to the prospect rather us talking about ourselves.  You can't create a love affair with a generic customer.  Getting to know your personas and really seeing them as a living, breathing person 

Using personas is a very helpful trick for writing stronger copy, creating content that gets shared, developing customer service programs, making your website sticky and driving sales.  If you haven't developed 3-4 personas for your brand — put it on your to do list for Q1 of 2011.  It will make the rest of the Q's 

P.S. If you want more info on personas, Marketing Profs is doing a webinar on February 10th specifically about the topic.  


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Walt Disney’s marketing tips

January 24, 2011

Picture 6My greatest teacher when it comes to all things marketing was not a professor or professional mentor. 

It was Walt Disney.  

Somehow, in the midst of ROI, measurability, counting clicks and studies that can track a person’s eye movements to see what part of an ad captures their attention first — we have forgotten that marketing and branding is ultimately about wooing and winning someone’s heart.

But Walt never did.

At MMG, we talk a lot about creating a love affair with your customer… but Walt knocked it out of the park and his cast members continue to do it today, with every guest interaction and every new story told.

A few years ago, in the midst of one of our annual pilgrimages to the Mouse, I wrote a series of blog posts that later became an e-book spotlighting some of the many ways that Walt Disney demonstrated his marketing chops.

These are tips that any business — B2B or B2C — can employ.  I'd love to share it with you and have you share it with others.  

Download it by clicking on the link:  Walt Disney's marketing tips


A hat tip and a hug to CK for being the one who said… "you know, this would make an awesome ebook" way back when.




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Could being remarkable really be this simple?

December 23, 2010

Picture 9 As you may know, I am a Disneyophile.  I love the Disney parks, I love the Disney movies' happy endings, I love the unrelenting pursuit of better customer service that drives Disney to their own level of excellence.

I also love Walt Disney's story.  

I know he wasn't perfect by a long shot.  But he was a dreamer, a story teller and a man who believed so strongly in his own vision that he ignited the people around him until they were as caught up in the dream as he was.  And despite being told no about a million times — he just keep at it until his dream came to be.

But if you've studied his life like I have, you discover that his philosophies are incredibly simple.  And in that simplicity, incredibly profound.

When asked how to build a successful business, he replied:

"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends."  

Pretty much sums up referral selling, word of mouth marketing, and customer retention all in one sentence.  And in the end — isn't Walt talking about creating a love affair with your customers?

Do you think we make it too complicated?  Do you think Walt was right? Is that really all there is to it?




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How Disney says “I’m sorry”

November 24, 2010

Disneysorry_drewmclellanIt's inevitable…we're going to make a mistake or disappoint a customer.  And while Love Story might have told us that "love means never having to say you're sorry" I'm pretty sure that if we really want to create a love affair with our customers — we do on occasion, have to apologize.

The brilliant marketers at Disney know that for many, a trip to one of their resorts is a once in a lifetime event for a family.  So if they mess up, they'd better apologize in a big way.

Like most hotels, check in at Disney's Boardwalk is 4 pm.  But our room wasn't ready until around 6 pm.  Oops.

How did Disney handle their error?  First, we got a $200 credit on our room tab.  And then, there was a knock at the door and room service presented us with this beautiful (and delicious) 8" white chocolate Mickey and four tuxedo'd chocolate covered strawberries.

Do you suppose that right after we finally checked in, someone scrambled to figure out how to make things right with us?  Of course not.  Disney had a plan in place and all the cast member had to do was put it into action.

How about you — what's your white chocolate Mickey?  Don't wait until after you've disappointed a customer to figure out how to apologize.  


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Creating love affairs: You can’t buy their love

November 23, 2010

Drewmclellan_noteIn our ongoing pursuit of creating love affairs with your customers, I wanted to share a recent experience.

If you're a regular reader, you know that I am:

  • A frequent traveler
  • A wee bit impatient
  • All about efficiency

So it shouldn't surprise you that I have my travel routine down to a science.  I can pack for any trip in less than 10 minutes.

I own a TSA approved messenger bag so I don't have to take my laptop out when I got through security.  I always wear slip on shoes.

And I just ordered TSA approved belts so I can scoot through the scanner without having to de and re-belt.  (or accidentally dropping trou.)

When the belts from www.BeepFreeProducts.com arrived, I was pretty pumped to open the package.  This was the final tweak to my travel ensemble.  (I know… I can't help it. Don't judge me!)  But when I dug past the packaging, I found more than the belts.  

There was also a handwritten post it note thanking me for my order and saying that they'd included a couple extra belt buckles so I'd have some variety to choose from. (see the photo)

On a simple post it note.  Nothing pre-printed, nothing fancy.  Just a note from Jim.

It probably cost him 2 minutes to jot the note.  But I felt the love.  Why?

It was unexpected: This was my first order from the company so I had no real expectations.  I hadn't spent a huge amount of money and they don't have a super sexy website, product etc.  So I wasn't expecting the creativity and the personal touch.

It was personal: If it had been a pre-printed card, it probably wouldn't have been as memorable or noteworthy.  He addressed the note to me, not "dear customer or sir." Whether it's true or not, I felt like Jim really did want me to have those extra buckles.  He really cared that I could mix and match my buckles. 

Another example of this is www.TheMemStore.com.  They sell memory chips.  Tough to imagine anything that is more of a commodity than that.  But, with every order, they include a couple suckers.  Yes, lollipops.  Think it is silly?  Google AND lollipops and see all the mentions and links.  Do you really think people would be writing about the company they buy memory chips from, if it weren't for the suckers? 

Many people believe that creating a lasting love affair with your customers is going to be incredibly expensive.  It doesn't have to be.  In fact, you can't buy their love.

If you try too hard or it feels like you are throwing money at it, rather than throwing your heart into it, it will backfire.

Instead of them feeling your love, they'll feel a little cheap, Ike you think they can be bought.  But let Jim's post it note remind us all that it's the heart that counts, not the cost.


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Marketing tip #1: Create a love affair with your customers

November 1, 2010

96360627 Satisfaction is nice.  Loyalty is good.  Repeat business is dandy.

But none of that is love.  And if you really want to get and keep a customer for life — you have to be willing to stick your neck out and love them.  You need to put your heart on your sleeve and woo them.

You need to create a love affair
with your customers.

Why?  Let me give you 5 good reasons.

It feels good:  No matter what you sell — it feels better to serve people you care about. It's easier to go the extra mile for customers that are special.  It helps elevate your work to noble work.  As my friend Steve Farber says…"do what you love in the service of people who love what you do."

It's easier to sell more to a current customer who loves you, than a new customer:  In fact, recent studies show that it 6-7 times more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an old (in love) one.

It's more profitable:  Boosting your customer retention up by as little as 5% can elevate your profits by 5-95%.  New customers are more price sensitive and require a huge amount of up front time, even after you've closed the deal.

It generates word of mouth:  When a customer loves you, they can't help but talk about you to others.  When you make them feel special and go out of your way to love them — they will be your most powerful marketing tool — advocates who spread word of mouth.  

It's incredible for employee retention: Who doesn't want to work at a place that gives them permission to be incredibly kind and considerate?  Who wouldn't love to hear customers rave about them?  Who isn't looking for a way to put more meaning into their work?  Why not make it a labor of love!

Is there a business who has created a love affair with you?  How does it feel to be on the receiving end of that kind of attention?

The real question in my mind is — why wouldn't you create a love affair with your customers?




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Marketing tip # 71: How many hooks have you set?

October 25, 2010

94738500Whether it comes to fish or our customers, the more hooks we have in them, the more likely we're going to be able to keep them!

I'd like to think the "hooks" we have in our customers — the reasons they can't imagine going anywhere else to buy what we sell, aren't painful, but in fact… they're the little things we do to be so remarkable and so unforgettable, we have earned their business and their love for life.

That's the way we should be setting our hooks. With love.  It's all about creating that love affair with our customers.

I was speaking to a banking association last week and told them the story of a bank who happens to have a significant population of 70+ aged customers.  Which makes social security day a busy one!  Lots of elderly ladies showing up to deposit those checks and then they hang out for awhile.

The bank saw the opportunity and began providing cookies and coffee.  It was a white haired networking extravaganza.  Now, that's a nice hook.

But the bank tellers took it to a whole new level.  They started noticing if some of the regulars hadn't been in the bank for awhile and they took it upon themselves to call those customers (often widows who lived alone) to make sure they were okay and if they needed any assistance.  Some of the elderly actually broke down and cried on the phone because they were so touched by the concern.

That's setting a hook with love.  And that's how you keep a customer for life.



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