Consider Budweiser, America's macro-brewer. They spend who knows how much on advertising, going over the top each year with the Super Bowl, and then there are all those billboards, magazine ads, TV spots, and all sorts of promotions. I can't even imagine the amount of marketing people they must have working on all of this.
Recently, they came out with this new beer that they call Budweiser Select. Provocative name, don't you think? Makes you want to learn more about it, doesn't it? What's so special about this product? What makes it select? Here’s how the Anheuser-Busch folks describe it on their website:
"Budweiser Select is 'a new kind of beer' brewed for a crisp taste that finishes clean. Budweiser Select was developed using two-row and roasted specialty malts for a rich color. A blend of aromatic domestic and imported hops provides the perfect balance and flavor. With its selective ingredients and distinctive brewing process, Budweiser Select delivers a crisp taste that finishes clean with only 3.1 grams of carbohydrates, 99 calories and 4.3 percent alcohol by volume per 12 ounce serving."
I have no idea what a two-row malt is, but I'm willing to accept that it must be cool because America's macro-brewer came up with it. What we have here is beer that still packs a wallop, for fat guys and gals on the Atkins diet.
Now I have to tell you about an experience The Lovely Marianne and I recently had in a fancy restaurant out on the east end of the Isle of Long. We were having lunch when a party of six fat guys plopped themselves down at the next table. The waitress, a young woman named, Tara, went over to take their order. Here’s how the conversation went.
"Hi, my name is Tara and I'll be your server. Can I get you something to drink?"
"Sure," one of the guys said. "What's this Budweiser Select?" He pointed and squinted at the menu.
"I don't know,” said Tara. "It's just Bud, I think." So cute.
"Okay," the guy said, "then just bring me a Bud."
And there you have it. Probably a zillion dollars worth of Budweiser Select marketing and advertising right down the toilet. How come? Because no one bothered to explain to Tara what the product is, and how it might benefit the customer. Parts is parts.
Last month I was at the airport, waiting to pick up my daughter, Erin, from an early morning flight. There's a T.G.I. Fridays at this airport and they serve coffee and buns from a counter to sleepy-eyed people like me. I was getting myself a cup of joe, and there were several people waiting in line behind me. A young guy in a dirty uniform enters from the back room. The woman who is talking my order says to him. "Did you figure out what that was?"
"Uh, huh," he says.
"What was it?"
"It's dirty oil," he says.
"Really! That's so disgusting," she says.
"I know," he says, "and it's everywhere."
"Did you get it all cleaned up?"
"I did as much as I could, but it's still pretty messed up back there," he says. "I don't think I can get it done by the time they come in."
"How are they supposed to do lunch with all that mess back there," she said.
He shrugs. So cute.
I will remember this for years, and I'll never order food at that Fridays. Or maybe any other Fridays. I have a choice.
Or how about this? You're driving down the road with your spouse, looking for a place to eat. You see a restaurant and it looks interesting, but then you spot one of those portable signs out front, the kind you tow with a car. It reads, Wanted – Waitress, Cook, Busboy, Dishwasher.
Really makes you want to stop there for a meal, doesn't it? We actually saw this the other day. All the marketing in the world can't get around an owner who's trying to save a buck on a classified ad.
And how about this for dopey? I went to a tradeshow last May. Five manufacturers recognized me and grabbed me into their booths as I wandered the aisles. They each had a new product that they thought was wonderful, and after listening to their pitch I had to agree; this stuff was pretty interesting.
When I got back home I decided to mention the products on HeatingHelp.com. Thousands of people visit this site each day, and most of them are pretty sharp. They like to hear about new products and bright ideas. So I went to the websites of the five manufacturers, looking for the new products they had shown me at the tradeshow so that I could tell the heating world. Trouble was, not one of those five manufacturers had their new product featured on their website. They were so excited at the tradeshow, but apparently not excited enough to show it on the Internet.
So I didn't mention any of them because I had nothing to reference. Lost opportunity for them, and I wondered who was in charge of getting this stuff online before the tradeshow? I wondered because if no one is in charge then it all stops right there. And all the marketing in the world can't get you around this. We're all using the Internet nowadays, and if it's not up there then it's not out there.
How about your business? Are your salespeople getting the training they need to tell the difference between a Bud and a Bud Select (or the heating equivalent)? And if there's a mess in the "kitchen" at your place, are your people discussing the problem in front of your customers? What a turn off that is.
How about when you need help. Are you hanging a sign on your building, or posting your needs where potential customers can see them? Suppose you were your own customer. Wouldn't that sign make you feel like you're going to have to wait for service? Even if only for a little while? Why would you do that to yourself?
Training – it can never stop in this business.
"Hi. I saw an article in the newspaper about this new type of heating system. What do you know about it?"
"Uh, a little bit, I guess. What do you want to know"
"What makes it better?"
"Gosh, I really don’t know. Nobody told me about it. You want me to see if I can get you something on it. You can read up about it yourself. I really don’t have the time to get into it myself right now."
"Nah, that's okay. Don't bother. I was just curious."
All it takes is one properly placed, dopey employee to mess up your business. Got one?