Wednesday, October 21, 2009
For years in the area of one of our homes I've admired the work of a certain landscaping company. (I won't even say which home, to grant said company further anonymity.) I will call this company A.L. for Artistic Landscape, for indeed that is what they do. I've never seen a local TV or newspaper ad for A.L. Instead the only marketing I've noticed is their tasteful, small signs in the yards of homes that they've landscaped. These front yards are testaments to the great work A.L. does. Their landscapes are works of art.
Which is why, when my husband and I wanted to do some changing of our plants in our front and back yards, we decided to call A.L.
Actually, Mark picked up the phone. I later wished I had. At A.L. Mark reached an assistant. "Hi, we're interested in some landscaping. Could someone from your company come out and see what's needed?"
"Okay. How much do you want to spend?"
"Uh. I don't know."
"Because if you spend $7000 or so, I'll come out. But if you spend over $15,000, the owner himself will come out."
Oookay. Mark thanked the assistant and hung up.
When he reported the conversation to me, I was astounded. Landscaping is expensive, I know that. It wasn't the prices that surprised me. It was the way in which A.L.'s design service was presented. If I'd been the one to call, I'd have pressed with further questions--like this:
"Are you serious? Do you have any idea how this spiel of yours comes across? You're telling me unless I spend top dollar at your company, I will receive less than your best design. You've just erased years of positive marketing in sixty seconds."
I can understand a company's policy of giving higher end service to higher paying customers. Maybe that's not all that unusual. But surely there's a better way to talk to the customer. The conversation left me wondering if all the beautiful front yards I'd seen were the design of the "owner himself." What would I be getting with the mere "assistant?"
Sad, isn't it, to see how quickly all those years of positive thoughts about this company went in the tank. And then it got me thinking. With all of my own marketing, people may have positive reactions to what I do. They may read this blog, visit my Web site, receive my Sneak Pique newsletter, visit my Facebook page. I often give away books because I believe if a new reader is exposed to my work, he/she will like it. But, mercy, I want to be just as good at presenting myself when someone actually contacts me.
One negative connection can wipe out a lot of previous positive reactions.