Do you think it matters? Do you think it depends on the type of product or service you sell?
Well, this is what I think: if you want customers to care about you, show them you care about them.
Whatever it is you’re selling, the way you deliver it matters.
It matters to your customers.
And that means it matters to your brand, your image and your reputation.
A great product or service is made even more special with great packaging and delivery
When Apple’s iPhone first hit the market, a colleague put one — still in its box — on his desk. It was the second iPhone he’d bought within a short space of time. It was the first one I’d seen in its packaging.
Another colleague picked up the box and started to open it.
‘Stop! What are you doing?’, said the iPhone’s owner.
‘I’m just opening the box’, replied the colleague.
‘Yeah, but opening the box is part of the experience’, said the iPhone owner. He wasn’t going to let anyone else open it.
‘Wow!’, I thought. ‘It’s just a box.’
And then I bought an iMac a few months later. My first ever Apple product.
Isn’t it special when you receive a beautifully wrapped gift?
As I started to open the box, I remembered my colleague’s words from months earlier. Opening that box was part of the experience.
I’ll describe it for you, in case you’ve not seen an iMac’s packaging.
On the outside, the box was white with a picture of the iMac; its purple-hued desktop image emblazoned on it.
Inside, the packaging was cleverly designed and included a simply adorned, long white box. The adornments were the few words stamped in silver on the top of the slide-off sleeve — ‘Designed by Apple in California’ — and the distinctive Apple logo, also in silver, stamped on each side of the box.
Discreet. Elegant. Stylish.
Inside this other white box was the keyboard and the manuals. Lifting off the keyboard, the mouse appeared. So far, everything was white and silver. And then, a perfect black square was sitting on the bottom: the cloth for cleaning the screen.
It was like receiving a present; a beautifully wrapped gift. Even the wording in the manuals is designed to make you feel special.
And Apple certainly knows how to make you feel special. From its website to its in-store experience, to the product’s look, its software and support — it’s a total package.
And the delivery of the product more than meets the expectation set by Apple’s marketing. It’s no wonder Apple has such an enthusiastic, almost religious following.
So how do you present your product or service to your customers?
If you’ve never bought an Apple product, you’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about.
Well, think about a present you’ve received. One that made you feel really special. Everything about it made it obvious the giver had thought of you for every detail.
It was wrapped in exactly the right way: your favourite colours and design. Or perhaps the giver chose wrapping that honoured your eco-sensibilities. The card was perfectly chosen. The gift, itself, was ideal.
Now contrast that with a carelessly wrapped gift that looks like it came from the bottom of the giver’s present drawer. You know, that place where unwanted gifts are kept until they can be given to someone else.
Well, it’s not particularly nice being an afterthought.
And yet that’s how many companies deliver ‘service’.
It’s a real problem when your marketing promise isn’t realised in the product or service you deliver
You’ve just spent over one hundred-thousand bucks on marketing.
You have a marketing strategy that comes with a refined version of your logo; a new, beautifully designed website filled with fantastic content; new brochures, business cards, and all the rest.
Finally, your carefully crafted marketing message is launched. And the market’s noticing it.
Your page hits are rising thanks to a well-targeted social media strategy, supported by the blog on your website (that you’re paying someone to write). Your sales team is doing well with all the new material they have to support them.
Now it’s time to deliver your service to a big new customer.
This customer is really excited. The management team were hooked with the great content on your website and what your marketing promised them.
You deliver projects, and your customer is looking forward to seeing the first plans come through.
Unfortunately, the quality of what you deliver doesn’t live up to the quality of your marketing material. And your customer tells you so. After all, they’re paying for it.
Your big new customer is starting to think they’ve made a mistake choosing you.
And you’re wondering what was the point of your $100k investment.
What did you do wrong?
I can tell you.
You haven’t aligned the delivery of your product or service to your brand.
What’s the point of spending all that money on your website and other marketing material if your product or service doesn’t live up to it?
You used your brand to convince your customer that you were the right choice.
But the thing they actually pay you for doesn’t match the brand’s promise. The way you work isn’t fully aligned to your brand.
When you deliver project or consulting services, a single report could cost your customer $100k and upwards. But are you presenting your customer with something that let’s them feel they’ve received value for money? Something that reflects what you promised in your marketing?
Regardless of the quality of your solution, that quality’s going to be eroded in a report with a haphazardly applied logo, no page numbers, and spelling and grammar errors on page after page of black-and-white text.
The secret is in brand alignment
It’s easy to be cynical about Apple. Not everyone is a fan.
But how many people are queuing outside your premises days before your new product is released?
How many people think opening one of your products (or reports) is part of the experience?
Okay, you’re not Apple or Disney or Zappos, but you can still make your customers feel special.
It’s simple, really.
If you wear a suit or uniform as part of delivering your service, wear it with pride. Make sure the shirt’s tucked in. Make sure it’s ironed. Make sure it’s clean. Make sure it comes with a smile.
If you’re speaking to your customer, be friendly. Ask them how they are … genuinely, not just as part of a hi-how-are-you type greeting. And if they ask how you are, don’t tell them about the crap day you’ve had. It’s your job to make them feel good, not the other way around.
If you’re delivering a report, make sure it’s presented well. Use your company’s brand (hopefully you had a template to help you). Consider your reader and how they’ll best understand what you’re telling them. Have your content proofread and edited by someone else. Have it reviewed for accuracy. Make sure the document reflects the price your customer is paying for it.
That’s what you’d expect, isn’t it?
All of these elements are part of your brand. All of them reflect on your image and reputation.
Whatever your product or service, and how ever you deliver it, just remember this:
If you want your customers to care about you, you have to show them that you care about them.