My Father is a baby boomer, he has no brand preference to vehicle (see next sentence) and he loves his cars. In the past ten years my he has driven a Nissan, Infinity, Honda, BMW and recently he went out to find a truck. My Father doesn’t just go look for a car on Saturday and buy it on Sunday, he’s one of “those guys”, you know, the ones who look up the msrp online, and knows more than most salespeople in a showroom. He even assists people at work and Church buying vehicles because he’s known as “the car guy”. Seth Godin would call my Dad a “sneezer”.
He loves his cars.
In November he decided to buy a truck for the winter. As a man with no brand preference would, he began his search online. He knew roughly what he wanted and test drove several different brands of trucks over the course of a few consecutive weekends. One day while at work, a lady told him about a salesperson at Capital GMC she held dealt with, who was quite pleasant. He took down the name and my Dad was sold. Though my father did barter with the salesmen about the “administration fee” (evidently he read online how much a dealership “should” be charging) they even reduced the rate for him. He was happy. That weekend my Dad bought the truck with the help of the recommended salesperson.
Then the salesmen made a mistake. He told my Father that he’d send a followup survey to see how the dealership did, where my Dad wanted to let them know about the inflated administration fee. The follow up survey was never sent. A pleasant experience up until the salesmen broke the first rule of marketing and branding anything or anyone: keep your promises.
My Dad didn’t even tell me the salesperson’s name, he didn’t know it anymore. He had no reason to tell people about this salesperson. A lady at my Dad’s work passed on positive word-of-mouth that was stopped dead in it’s tracks because of a promise unfulfilled. All the salesperson needed to do was to send the e-mail. As small as this sounds, it made a big difference. My Dad did not feel like this salesperson was credible enough to pass along his name, that’s a big deal. The sales person didn’t ask the ultimate question, would your customers recommend you?
All the advertising in the world can’t influence authentic word-of-mouth. I wonder what Capital GMC’s advertising budget compared to their customer service budget is.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Spend less money on telling people about how amazing you are (marketing) and spend more money on giving people reasons to talk about you (create positive word-of-mouth).