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good marketing doesn’t stop at the sale

I see a lot of companies out there focused on the marketing.

Considering I’m a marketer, I’d say that’s a good thing. Keeps me in business. I like that.

But if you think marketing is going to magically save your company, I’m gonna stop just short of calling you willfully deluded.

In reality, marketing is only a PIECE of the puzzle… and it doesn’t end as soon as the sale is made.

Great marketing extends through fulfillment, customer service, continued nurturing, and follow-up offers.

And if the pieces of the machine aren’t in alignment, the whole thing can come grinding to a halt.

It’s on my mind because of an interesting experience I had earlier this week that completely soured me on one company, and made me fall in love with another.

Here’s what’s went down:

Monday morning, I wake up and do the usual… head down to the coffee maker to get that all-important first cup of coffee. Only I noticed a stress crack in the glass carafe. Ordinarily, I’d be like, “oh I must have bumped it. Crap”. But in this case, this machine was only two weeks old, and had set me back about a $100. And I think I’d remember cracking the glass and having an “oh shit” moment.

The carafe had somehow managed to crack itself while sitting on its base – likely some sort of stress fracture or imperfection. Just a neat little “W” shape where the handle joined the glass, vs a chip from an obvious encounter with a hard surface. And I’m incredibly grateful I saw it before brewing.

But the problem is… it’s a fancy Ninja machine. It literally will not drip unless that specific carafe is fitted all snug on the warming plate. Because the design of that machine means when the carafe is removed, the drip flow stops. I did have a spare carafe from my old machine, but it didn’t fit, so the coffee wouldn’t brew.

This being way too much to process pre-caffeine, I decided to call Ninja about it.

I wanted to talk to customer service – and the only option they had was a phone call (no live chat, no email… just phone). Well, that’s annoying but it is what it is.

So I get on the phone and explain what’s happening. The lady tells me she’ll “make an exception” (To what exactly? Your stuff breaking inside two weeks? That’d be nice…) and send me a free replacement carafe – she just needs to confirm my shipping address.

I give her the address and she hits me with this little whammy… the replacement will be here somewhere around 4-6 weeks. And it may take as long as 8 since the part is currently out of stock.

*record scratch* Wait, what?

So you’re telling me that the coffee maker I bought two weeks ago… is essentially a paperweight for the next two months?

I am… coffeeless?

*cue distressed wordless screeching*

I express my displeasure at this situation on the phone and the rep, in an annoyed voice, tells me she’s done everything she can.

Eh… I call bullshit. She followed the script and technically did right by me (aside from the attitude), but it was the lack of empathy and understanding with my frustration, combined with what seems like a lack of empowerment (or creativity) to do something about it.

She was literally unwilling to do anything but send me a free carafe somewhere in the next two months.

So I pulled a Hail Mary and called the local Target where I bought the coffee maker.

I explained the situation to the customer service rep, who actually listened and understood. She even made a joke about how well I was coping considering I hadn’t had my morning cup of Joe.

She gave me her name, told me to put the broken carafe in a bag in case it shattered, and bring in the machine along with the card I used to buy it.

That was probably the fastest I’ve ever gotten dressed in my life. Within 10 minutes, I was out the door on my way to the store. As soon as I walked in carrying the Ninja, she waved at me and called out, “I have a feeling we just spoke on the phone”.

Are you starting to see the difference between Ninja and Target?

One customer service rep had enough compassion to empathize with their customer’s problem, and enough creativity to figure out a solution for me so that I didn’t have to.

The end result? Instead of swapping out my now defunct Ninja (RIP) for a brand new version of the same thing… I actually did some shopping and wound up coming out of the store with an EVEN FANCIER coffee maker that was twice the price I initially paid.

Score: Target – 1, Ninja – 0

I’m going to try not to excitedly ramble too much, but this new one can brew hot and cold, single cups, half pots, full pots, froth milk, and smartly switch between loose-leaf tea and coffee. AND it has a stainless steel carafe… no more cracked glass!

*cue excited wordless screeching*

Ninja had great marketing. I was completely amped up to take home that machine and I loved it for all of two weeks. Where they fumbled was at the goal line… fulfillment. Everything was great until the carafe cracked. Then suddenly it’s “we have your money, take the wait time or leave it”.

Not a great feeling, and doesn’t make me relish the thought of buying from them again.

Ninja can now market me relentlessly and the odds are they’ll never get my business again.

Target took on a problem they didn’t have to own though – they weren’t responsible for the broken carafe. But they decided, through one empowered customer service rep, to make sure the buying experience worked out well for them and for the customer.

Target? You’ve definitely got my attention.

The lesson in all this – there are a lot of newer marketers out there shouting about how marketing is the most important piece of your business.

And I’m a marketer, so it’s not like I’m going to say it’s NOT important.

But I can help you create the most brilliant marketing campaign ever, fill your pipeline beyond full. And if you can’t see it through to the end and deliver a great customer experience, then all the great marketing in the world won’t help bring those customers back.

Good marketing is in everything you do, start to finish.

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