Soylent Green was a 1973 movie starring Charlton Heston. The movie is set in 2022 – where overpopulation and pollution have combined to strip the world of natural resources. The only food source is a tasteless green cube which is identified as Soylent Green – which the government says is made of plankton. During the movie, we learn that real “food” is a luxury and the elderly are efficiently euthanized as they spend their final moments watching old video footage of the way earth used to be. After their peaceful passing, the old folks are processed into Soylent Green cubes for consumption by the next generation.
I could go on all day about the “problems” with the movie. (If the old folks are poisoned – then how can they be ground up and fed to the living? Is this part of the processing? It would seem bullets would be cheaper and reduce processing costs. IJS.) In the final scene – Charlton is seen being carried away screaming the truth, “Soylent Green is PEOPLE!”
Which brings us to Soylent Marketing – in which is my cute way of trying to convey that PEOPLE are the magic ingredient to your marketing efforts.
Advertising is great. It’s what you do when you can’t go door to door letting consumers know about the fabulous products you offer for sale. However, advertising can only bring consumers in the door – it’s your people who will decide whether these consumers will become customers.
Denny Hatch tells an interesting story in his latest at Target Marketing:
My ancient printer finally died. For years I have bought Apple computers and accessories at a [small locally owned business].
Recently Apple opened its own retail store nearby […]Unfortunately the staff is a bunch of goofy, untrained 20-somethings in flip-flops, jeans and blue shirts who don’t know squat.
I caught the eye of the very young “concierge”?in blue shirt and sporting an iPad?and said I wanted a printer. He pointed me to a table with three printers and promised to send over a sales person. I settled on an HP model that looked OK for $129 and stood by it for 15 minutes waiting for sales help. Even though a slew of blue-shirted kids were schmoozing with visitors or each other, none came my way.
Finally the iPad toting “concierge” returned. “Maybe I can help.”
“I need somebody to talk me through this printer before I buy,” I said. “For example, where does the paper go?”
The kid looked it over and said, “I believe it goes here.”
“You believe?” I asked. “That means you don’t know?”
“That’s what I believe.”
“That’s not good enough,” I said. “How about you get me a salesperson who knows.”
“OK,” he said. As he walked away, he muttered, “I was just trying to be helpful.”
I walked over [to the locally owned store], where I had not been for three years. Dave walked up and greeted me by name. Within five minutes, I walked out with a fine little plain-Jane printer that set me back a paltry $49.
Apple spends a ton of money on advertising – but a “‘slew” of minimum wage employee was all it took to drive one consumer to a competitor. Not only is that consumer buying from the competition – he’s writing about his experience and sharing it with a worldwide audience.
However, notice the REAL hero in this story – it’s the small business owner who not only showed up that morning to open his store, but also took the time to connect with a customer and make a sale. When Denny Hatch recommends a computer store to friends and family, do you think he’ll send them to the Apple store?
In my book – Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results I warn business owners to treat every customer as if they are a “power customer”. Power customers wield considerable influence over others. Whether it’s a beautician who sees dozens of people a day – or a blogger who speaks to tens of thousands via the web – you can never tell which consumers are wielding this kind of power.
In this case, Apple’s lowest level employees upset a customer with a popular newsletter and website. He shared his experience with his audience. Despite the clever, award winning advertisements which brought people through the door- the sale was lost by the people on the sales floor.
Before you begin any marketing campaign – make sure your sales people are ready. You only get one chance to make a great first impression – especially with a new customer brought in by your advertising message.