I'm a big fan of Seth Godin. In fact the entire Tonto team read his blog most days and we truly believe he has some good to offer the marketing and communications world.
One of the best things I've learnt from Seth Godin is the importance of encouraging a relationship with customers. He outlines it in Permission Marketing and I certainly try and form meaningful, long-lasting relationships with my customers, suppliers, partners, staff and competitors every day. In my experience, relationships, both business and personal, last and are sustained through good and bad times because of trust. Trust is earned through consistency of behaviour and is not something you can force.
With this in mind I'd like to tell a story about how my trust was manipulated recently and how an opportunity was lost.
I received an SMS asking someone from Tonto to call Lauren at ME Group regarding clients interested in Tonto's services. I forwarded the SMS onto my business partner, Jay, who made the call and quickly realised he had entered a sales funnel.
ME Group is actually Marcus Evans, a global organisation who organise live events for business and sporting clients. In this instance they are the organisers of the 2011 ANZ CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Executive Summit on the Gold Coast in September and low and behold, Seth Godin is the keynote speaker.
Lauren followed Jay up with an email guaranteeing that ME Group would deliver 10-15 one on one meetings in a private area with CMO's of large corporations with personal marketing budgets of $5 million+ who are actively seeking out Tonto Digital's services.
In addition to this Tonto Digital would receive all sorts of amazing stuff – like signage and branding at cocktail parties and banquets, exposure to over 100 CMO's from the top 1000 Australian middle market companies in one setting, logo and information in a dedicated portal on the Marcus Evans website, inserts in the summit program and access to the Marcus Evans database with detailed marketing information and services these CMO's are interested in.
Oh, and they put us up in a swanky hotel for 2 nights on the Gold Coast.
All for a lazy $35K. That's right, thirty five thousand dollars.
Now I have no problem paying good money to get access to influential people. I remember slipping a bouncer fifty bucks once to get into a private room at a nightclub because Moby was in the house.
The problem I have is that Lauren did not want someone from Tonto to call her because she had, and I quote
“clients interested in Tonto's services.”
Lauren, whether under poor instruction from her management or making poor judgment herself, decided that this was an acceptable tactic to get us to call her so she could try and sell us Seth Godin for $35K.
My suggestion to Lauren is that she read some of Seth Godin's work. I'm not sure he would suggest this is a great approach.
The big loss in this story is that there was an opportunity for Lauren to make a connection with Tonto and have a conversation with us about the summit and to see if it was something we would be interested in. We wouldn't have coughed up $35K even if I got to lick Seth Godin's clever, shiny head.
But Marcus Evans are one step behind now when it comes to earning my trust.