A Delightful Marketing Notion

The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

UPS DriverIn most small businesses, the daily arrival of the UPS truck doesn’t create much excitement, but that wasn’t the case at my printing business. When the team saw the man (or woman) in brown walk through the door, it wasn’t unusual to hear someone yell from the back of the shop, “Did we get anything from PHS?”

Paper Handling Solutions was a valued supplier, but what we received from them was certainly not remarkable. Usually it was toner cartridges, parts or supplies. It wasn’t the stuff that was valuable to the day-to-day operations that the staff was interested in anyway, it was the candy. Somewhere in every shipment could be discovered a plastic sandwich bag filled with good stuff.  This was the project of a very nice lady named Terre Davies, who not only made sure that goodies went with each shipment; but if she found out the kind of candy that her customers loved, she’d put more of it in the bag. (Thanks for the root beer flavored ones, Terre!)

As if by magical coincidence, the word delight” has come up frequently in my reading and listening this week, evoking the memory of Terre and the candy, and also inspiring this short post. The PHS candy assuredly was not part of their marketing plan, but I’ll bet it did more to keep the company top of mind than many of their much more costly efforts.  Marketers spend so much time and energy focused on message, content, offers, and channels that they overlook the simple stuff, like putting a smile on a customer’s face.

Hubspot, the company that may well be considered the inventors of current inbound marketing practice, actually includes delight in their Inbound Marketing Methodology.  Here’s a graphic hijacked from their website:

Hubspot Inbound MethodologyThe graphic portrays a development pipeline of sorts that is a model for inbound marketers. In Hubspot’s methodology, it’s content that compels an individual to step into the process as a stranger, learn more, buy something, and finally to become a fan. Here’s what they say about delight:

The Inbound way is all about providing remarkable content to our users, whether they be visitors, leads, or existing customers. Just because someone has already written you a check doesn’t mean you can forget about them. Inbound marketers continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell their current customer base into happy promoters of the companies and products they love.

These are lovely words that convey the message that delight can and should be an intentional part of the process. The words also lead naturally to a question:

What kinds of things can small businesses do to delight their customers and prospects?

There are a couple of ways to think about this. The first method is intentional – planned activity or information that your company’s audience will love.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Entertain – Brick and mortar businesses have the opportunity to get very elaborate with entertainment. Contests, costume days, and even real performers are all possibilities. Or, entertainment can be simple. I like to share Tom Fishburne’s creative cartoons from time to time. Here’s a good one.
    Hashtag cartoon by Tom Fishburne
  2. Give it Away – Candy in the box is a good idea, but there is no shortage of opportunity. Give away samples of your own product or cross-promote with a neighboring business. For B2B businesses with larger ticket sales, look to community events. At one time, my printing company had a trade agreement with our local minor league baseball team. We had several customers who were fans and provided them with frequent tickets to the games. We made lots of friends that way.
  3. Inform – Lake Sinclair Marina regularly publishes a fishing guide on their website. What better way to delight a fisherman than to tell him where (and what) the fish are biting?

The second way to delight customers and potentials is to be spontaneous.  Simply look for opportunities, take them and improvise as you go.  This is a no brainer for small businesses, who aren’t usually saddled with policy and procedure (or shouldn’t be, anyway). In the main, practicing “spontaneous delight” really just involves giving the team permission to be creative and occasionally to go over the top.  Putting this in practice is easy. Listen online and to the conversation at the front counter and train your staff to do the same. When you see an opportunity, react immediately and go overboard to please a customer or a stranger. I think you’ll get good results – a good reputation is priceless and word of mouth goes a long way.

When was the last time you went overboard to delight a customer?  I’d love it if you shared your favorite story. Better yet, give it a try today and let me know if something extraordinary happens!

DP Marketing Services offers hands-on marketing help for small businesses.  Please get in touch if you’d like to talk marketing – there is never a charge for the first conversations and we’ll usually come up with at least a couple of ideas.