Bob’s Brilliant Marketing Tool

There were over 300 cars in Bob’s funeral procession – the sort of line you would expect for a dignitary or superstar, not a retired tool-and-die designer and small business owner from Detroit. The postman who delivered Bob’s business mail every day for twenty years wept openly. Bob was the only person on his route that greeted him by name, and always shared a smile, a joke, and a cup of coffee.

What made Bob and his business successful wasn’t his skill as a draftsman. He was talented and exact, but so were his competitors. It wasn’t his “convenient” location or the rates he charged – they were industry standard.

What made the difference was Bob. He had a way of letting you know you were important to him, whether you were his client, his neighbor, or his mailman. He didn’t have any 21st-century doodads – no iPod, Blackberry, cell phone, not even a brochure or website. He was so interested in the details of people’s lives – their kid’s names, family birthdays, hobbies, favorite restaurants – that everyone called him a friend. He was so precise and responsive his name was #1 on the “must call” list of all his business associates.

That’s marketing at its best.

There is no question that planning, research, and statistics hold a foundational place in a strong marketing program, but the most brilliant item in your marketing toolbox – the one that makes the most immediate and lasting impact and drives people to come back for more – is you, and what you put into your relationships.

Admit it – at least once in your life, you’ve chosen to buy from one person over another because you liked them and trusted them, not because of their slick brochure or cool TV commercials. And while we’re being honest, admit that for the most part, people who buy from you probably use the same criteria. The most brilliant item in your marketing toolbox cannot be outsourced for production, it can only be developed from within your own heart and mind.

It’s all an inside job.

So what would Bob say about marketing in these unusual times?

  • Be courageous. Be genuine, helpful and upbeat.
  • Share a smile, a joke and a cup of coffee with everyone you meet.
  • Encourage those who need a boost.
  • Give great applause to the smallest victories, and remember this truth: “The most effective marketing does not chase. It attracts.”