Saturday, October 24, 2009

Communicating the Right Message


I wanted to buy a safe to house our sterling silver chains. We have a lot of finished chains that we keep in 16" and 18" lengths [link for figure 8 or satellite]. And we wanted to move the chains away and create more room for our sterling silver findings. On the recommendation of the building management, I drove out to see a company selling and delivering large safes. I want to share this story with you because it punctuates my thoughts on proper marketing message.

I spoke to a man named Gabe. He gave me the directions and I was to drive 40 minutes to Scarborough to see a man named Phil. I know lot about sterling silver chains, nothing about safes, and even less about Scarborough. I wasn't impressed driving past a temporary garbage transfer dumpsite they've put on a beautiful park. So, this wasn't starting off very well. I get to the bottom of the bridge over railroad tracks and turn off to a seedy industrial road. It's been raining and the potholes are shiny with muddy water. I take note of the peeling paint on all of the little squat cement and sheet metal buildings and I'm rethinking why I need a discount on the safe. I'm looking for number 61 and I can't find it. I see 57 and 63, with a building in between. There is a truck that reads Scarborough Waste Disposal. The windows of the building are all boarded up. I hear a guard dog barking and I wonder if it is a German shepherd or a Doberman. I can't outrun either one and I still can't find any sign of the company name anywhere. I call the owner again. He insists that I am at the right place and I need to walk down a lane and find the side door. Remembering that I am a mother of 2 and all of the lessons I've learned from the CSI television show, I call my own office to leave a message of my whereabouts, and to leave a trail of evidence wherever I can. I walk down the lane, under barbed wire, and approach a pile of old lumber and broken locks. A man with tattoos up to his ears opens the door. I ask for Phil, and without a word, he thumbs the door behind him. I pass the rusty door and enter a room full of debris and old lumber. There was not a safe in sight. I am as far away from my world of sterling silver chains as possible at this moment. A very large man with a buzz cut approaches. He looks more like a Bud than a Phil, but I'm too nervous to think about it quickly utter my name and who sent me, all the while trying not to stutter or seem nervous. The Doberman is in the back of my mind, or is it a German shepherd. "What size are you looking for?" He asked as he walked past me without any formalities. I reply "Big, my height." He turned around and, with a straight face, said "you're not very big." I laughed and admitted out loud that he was the wrong person to say that to. At that time, another tattooed and baldly shaven man walks by. I see more broken lumber on the floor and not a decent safe in sight. I am now seriously wondering if I've made a horrible mistake that will cost me more than just lost time. It felt like a room from Silence of the Lambs, only with more hardware, and all I wanted was a cheap safe for our sterling silver chains.

I am writing this in the safety of home, so the story ends nicely. The guys turn out to be very nice, though I must have been as foreign to them as they were to me. However, the situation did not leave me feeling confident, even though we will likely buy a safe from him since he furnishes most of the safes of high security neighbours of our building. I am certain that I would have a lot more after sale satisfaction and confidence, and was willing to pay a lot more, if they had made a bigger effort on the marketing message. A proper showroom, fewer tattoos, more working models, proper lighting, and less refuse would have gone a long way. However, the guys are good people and this was perhaps totally oblivious to them.

You should always know who your customers are, what they want to know about the product and service you provide, what is of value to them, and what would signal to them that you're going to stand behind your product. From that, you can create the proper marketing message.

All of this said, I am sure I am not communicating the high quality and great designs of our sterling silver chains properly. Perhaps we are as incongruent to you as the tattooed big boys selling safes were to me. I'm thinking I should tell them what I think. You should certainly tell me what you think.

To Look through some of our great selection on Sterling silver chains, click here!

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