PHILADELPHIA – One day, a small boy left a favorite toy at a hotel where he had stayed with his family. That’s not an uncommon event, but what happened afterwards was an awesome event, according to marketing expert Scott Stratten.
The self-described geek recounted the story in vivid detail during a platform speech here at the annual meeting of Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT).
In particular, he praised the hotel for the “un-marketing” way in which it responded to the father’s anxious call to see if anyone had found the toy, a stuffed giraffe named Joshie. Stratten suggested that other firms should be moving in the same direction.
The president of Un-Marketing in Oakville, Ont., Canada, Stratten uses the term “un-marketing” to refer to the use of viral, social and authentic marketing to create an awesome experience for the customer.
It is about what firms do on a daily basis, he said, not about performing a task or doing an extensive study of what the company logo should look like.
What the hotel did
When the father called the hotel, he told how upset the boy was about Joshie being lost, Stratten recalled. The father also recounted how he had reassured his son that Joshie was just on an extended vacation at the hotel and will be back soon.
The hotel—a Ritz Carlton—told the father that it did have the toy and would send it back, Stratten said. That’s not all the hotel did, though.
According to Stratten, hotel staffers took photos of all the things Joshie was doing while he was on his extended vacation at the hotel—lounging, sleeping, etc. They even took a picture of an identification badge they had created for Joshie, showing his employment status.
Then they sent the photos along with Joshie by overnight mail to the family home, he said. What did the dad do? Stratten asked rhetorically. “He tells everybody,” Stratten said. “He tweets it, he faxes it, he Facebooks (it), blogs it, faxes it.”
Nobody cares about the logo
The point, he continued, is that “Marketing is not about the logo of the hotel….Nobody, and I mean nobody, cares about the logo. They care about what you do…Marketing is everybody here. It’s this (the meeting). We share stories and experiences, whether awesome or unawesome. We don’t come to share logos.”
Marketing is a verb, not a task, he added. “It’s answering an e-mail or not. It’s answering the phone or not.”
As for being awesome, “You can’t automate it,” he said. He told how his own experience with a hotel made that point. The woman at the desk not only took his wake-up call time but also asked, in a friendly voice, if he would like to have some coffee sent up to him in the morning, too. To which he said, with gratitude, yes and thank you.
“I have no problem paying $87 for coffee now,” he quipped.
In relating the experience, he maintained that employees are not overhead. “They should add value to what you do.”
Likewise with social media
He applied similar thoughts to how businesses use social media. Seventy-five percent of his tweets are replies to other tweets, he pointed out, emphasizing that “Twitter is a conversation, not a dictation.”
People are on Twitter to talk to each other, so if a firm is automating its tweets—sending out financial data, for instance--“no one likes you,” Stratten said, because they are not on social media for that purpose.
Branding has to be in real time, he insisted. In real time, timing, speed (of response) and authenticity are the things that count, he added.
As an example, he told of a tweet he had sent out about a cell phone contract. The cell phone carrier did not respond, but another cell phone carrier—Virgin Mobile—did, sending him a tweet related to the issue. That carrier now has his family’s cell phone account.
“That’s how it works,” said the un-marketer.
Rory Vaden, another MDRT speaker, discussed procrastination and how it can lead to choices that interfere with success.
When confronted with the choice of using stairs or an escalator, most people take the escalator, he said. As proof, he showed a photo of a second-floor fitness center with access available by stairs and by escalator.
All the people going up in the picture were on the escalator; none was on the stairs. That image brought a big laugh from the audience.
“We’re naturally programmed to take the short cut, the easy way,” reflected Vaden, who is co-founder of Southwestern Consulting, a sales training company in Nashville, Tenn.
Some people consciously delay doing what they know they should, he said. Others avoid it by filling their days with business that distracts them, and still others allow a constant state of interruption into their lives so that their priorities get diluted.
What to do? Apply discipline, Vaden said, adding that this means doing what you don’t want to do. Most people don’t want to be disciplined, he allowed, but those who are disciplined recognize that procrastination will only make things worse.
He told of a time in his life when he was being “slammed” repeatedly as he went door-to-door on sales calls during summer vacation. One day, he reached the point where he felt like a failure, hated his job and wanted to go home. He sat and thought about it for a while but decided to get up and try again. Then he met Lenny, who bought more than $4,000 of merchandise from him.
“The answer,” the sales trainer and self-discipline strategist concluded, “is always behind the next door.” But he cautioned that “too many of us don’t have the discipline to do what we should be doing—to take the stairs.”
Success, he concluded, is never owned. “It’s rented and the rent is due every day.”
Michelle L. Hoesly, the new president of MDRT, pointed out in her acceptance address that she had learned that people don’t have to be the best. They just need to do their best, and see what they can become, said the president of Resource 1 Inc., Norfolk, Va. Hoesly is a 34-year MDRT member with three Court of the Table and 10 Top of the Table honors.
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