Congratulations… you’ve done it. You’ve measured and listened and finally done it! The phone is ringing off the hook, your web master has called and informed you that there will be an additional charge for all the bandwidth your web site is consuming, but you don’t care! The orders are ROLLING in and a nice big bandwidth charge is just the icing on the cake!
YOU’VE DONE IT!!!! You’ve achieved marketing success!!!!
Or have you? Actually, you’ve only just begun on the journey to marketing success. Yes, the phone has rung. Yes, the customer has placed their order… and now, the REAL challenge of "marketing" begins. According to Wordsmth, marketing is defined as:
all of the activities involved in transferring goods from a producer to consumers, esp. including advertising.
I recently had an experience with a company who thought their job as "a marketing services" company was limited to securing the order. Long story short: I used choicehotels.com to book a hotel in a city on the other side of the country. When I arrived at the property, it was ugly and it was scary… as in "Can you direct me to the nearest crack house because I’m sure I’d be safer staying there than here." I was not surprised when the property owner refused to honor my cancellation… but I was surprised when choicehotels.com gave me the "Sorry, we’re just a marketing service" response when I contacted them.
Long ago when I worked as a media rep for a newspaper, I had as an advertising client a newly opened resale shop. The shop’s owner was VERY astute and recognized that her biggest marketing challenge was not getting customers into the store, it was providing an exceptional selection of gently used clothing. She understood that her resale shop could quickly disintegrate into a rummage shop if she didn’t carefully screen incoming clothing. Her customers wanted to bypass the "yard sale" experience of digging through tons of "garbage" That meant upsetting more than a few potential "contributors" of clothing in the beginning, not to mention enduring a few months of sparse selection in her newly opened shop. However, her eye for quality quickly became known and not only did the volume of acceptable intakes increase, but her shop’s reputation grew in the community.
Choicehotels faces the same obstacle…. do you allow any hotel operator to join your marketing services so you can provide an impressive list of choices for potential customers? Or, do you carefully screen the properties, allowing only those who meet a minimum standard to be included?
After my disasterous experience with Choicehotels.com, I have a new appreciation for the Hotels.com advertising campaign. Like Choicehotels.com, hotels.com is a firm that provides "marketing services"… however, unlike Choicehotels.com, Hotels.com clearly identifies their "customer" as the user of their service and not the hotels that pay to be listed on their web site.
Hotels.com has adopted the business model of an uber successful company : Google. Google has identified their "customer" as those who search and not those who wish to be included in said searches. As a result, when Google dances, web masters and blog site owners wimper, cry and curse. However, each "dance" Google has danced has been in the name of providing better SEARCH RESULTS for their customers, defined as visitors who search.
Want to base your business model on one of the most successful businesses of the new millennium? (How long has it been since you’ve seen THAT phrase: new millennium!) A decade ago, Lycos, Alta Vista and Yahoo were all dancing to attract the attention of web masters who were willing to pay for the privilege of being listed while a new upstart called Google decided to focus on providing better search results.
Begin by correctly DEFINING your customers. Hotels.com has defined their customer as those who use their site. Choicehotels.com has defined their customer as those who pay to be listed.