Home' micenet eMag : micenet December 2017 Contents I
f you’ve studied any tertiary marketing
course, you’re probably familiar with
Theodore Levitt’s famous consumer
insight about power drills.
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch
drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
Marketers and their agencies are often
guilty of not understanding the reasons why
people behave the way they do. They don’t
take time to talk with their customers.
This lack of real communication has
increased in recent years alongside the growth
of marketing automation. We’ve stopped
talking, we’re only computing, and lost a layer
of human involvement along the way.
You’ll be surprised what you learn if you
just talk with your customers.
This lack of knowledge about what
motivates customers was laid bare at a
tourism marketing conference in New
Zealand, at which I spoke some time ago. I
met Jeanette Kelly, a women who has spent
years working in the hospitality industry,
running her own business as well as working
for others. Jeanette presented a wonderful
piece of research conducted by the
University of Waikato.
The accommodation and marketing
managers of various hotels, motels, guest
houses and the like, were asked what they
thought were the most important factors
influencing accommodation choices. They
said, in order of priority: 1. Staffing and
accommodation service. 2. Room rate. 3
Location. 4 Facilities. 5 Marketing and sales
What you think you’re selling and what you think people are
buying are often two very different things, says Malcolm Auld.
programs. 6. Seasonal tourism. 7. Competition from other properties. 8. Supply and demand. 9.
Events taking place in the area. 10. The general state of the national economy. 11. The state of
Guess what the customers listed as the most important factors influencing their
accommodation choices, in order of priority?
1. Cleanliness of the room. 2. Quality of the bath towels and wash cloths. 3. Quality of staff
service. 4. Friendliness of staff service. 5. Comfort of mattress and pillow. 6. Quietness of room.
7. Well maintained furnishings. 8. On-premise car parking. 9. Overall facilities. 10. Level of
In case you’re wondering, ‘room prices’ came 17th on the list of priorities for customers. And
what were the marketers smoking to believe customers care about marketing and sales programs?
More importantly, as you can see in this case, what customers want to buy and what
marketers are trying to sell, are poles apart.
On another occasion I was training small businesses in regional Queensland on how to write
a marketing plan. As part of the exercise, the business owners interviewed their clients for
feedback. One of the delegates was surprised to learn that clients thought his customer service
was excellent. Now you may think this is a good thing. The problem for the delegate though,
was that he didn’t have any specific customer service staff and hadn’t a clue what the clients
meant. He had to get them to explain the alleged service. Apparently his business received lots
of orders by fax (please, we will not judge outback Queensland based on technology usage).
The fax is still a popular method of ordering in many small businesses.
The business owner discovered that his very polite receptionist would ring the client and
confirm she had received the order, whenever they faxed one through. She then established an
agreed delivery time. To her it was just good manners to call. Yet the clients loved this service,
as they were never sure if the fax was received at the other end of the high-pitched squeal.
Now if you know the term ‘under-promise and over-deliver’, you’ll know its benefits. Upon
learning of this wonderful customer service he was providing, the owner trained his receptionist
to agree a delivery time that was just a few days longer than they could deliver.
Then the company would deliver the order earlier than the agreed date and so create an
extremely happy client. And I suggest the client was also less likely to argue over price.
So take some time to really talk with your customers and understand what motivates them.
You could be pleasantly surprised by what you learn. Who knows, you might find they’re looking
to buy something other than what you’re selling, or even be willing to pay more? m
Check out Malcolm’s blog – www.themalcolmauldblog.com.
micenet | 55
MARKETING | MALCOLM AULD
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