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May 11, 2011 - 3 minute read - marketing

Marketing Tip - How You Respond Tells a Lot About You

There is lots of good advice on marketing available. Much of it is based on solid research and can help you grow your business. This post is much more basic. Once a prospect contacts you, how you deal with him says a lot about you.

Here’s a case in point. I’m trying to track down some mall lease rates and property availability for a client looking to establish a jewellery business in Saskatoon. Now you tell me how anxious this mall is to do business.

I first checked out the mall’s website and they listed contacts for leasing. When I communicated what I was looking for, I received an email asking for clarification. When I replied that I was looking for a permanent lease instead of a short-term one, the contact told me that she couldn’t help me and to contact somebody in Calgary. Okay, why didn’t she forward my request to the right person?

When I contacted the person in Calgary, I received an autoreply saying she was on vacation for two weeks. If I couldn’t wait for two weeks, I could contact another person in the Calgary office. Imagine, me of so little patience, having the gall to expect an answer to a question in less than two weeks! I sent an email to the next person in line, followed by a phone call. In the phone call, I found out that the contact person was an admin assistant and she has sent my request back to the Saskatoon office. She gave me the first name and the phone number of the Saskatoon contact. After some prodding, I got the person’s last name and job title. It happens to be the mall general manager. Two calls and voicemails later, still no response. Here’s what they are implying by their response:

  • If you want to talk to the right person, keep trying.
  • Our management structure and corporate decision making system is fascinating to prospective customers.
  • We are either too inept or too busy to waste time on giving answers to a few simple questions.

This whole thing could have been cleared up by having somebody empowered to answer a few simple questions. What if there is no space available? To avoid looking like you are hostile to new business, make sure to:

  • Respond to inquiries quickly and courteously. Telling a customer “no” quickly and courteously does no harm to your brand. Saying no or yes in an impersonal and slow way implies a lot of negative things to your prospects.
  • If your employees don’t have the answers, make sure they pass the information to the right person. Your customers don’t need to know who does what. They just want answers.
  • If you think your system is user-friendly, test it. Have somebody you trust contact your sales staff and see how they do.

People can get caught up in their daily routines and forget about their customers. When this happens, it can undermine your entire marketing effort.

Update: The manager called and told me they didn’t want to add another jewellery store, and they didn’t have any leasing opportunities. She was pleasant and once I told her about the hoops I had to jump through, she was apologetic. She mentioned staff vacations and an office move for the reason for the backlog.