Killer Follow Through

My friend Blaine Parker is not only a mighty fine voice actor, he’s a marketing genius. Same is true of his wife Honey Parker. Between them they make Park City, Utah one seriously bright spot in the marketing universe. Blaine publishes a weekly electronic piece called HOT POINTS that I’ve quoted a number of times here. Today I just had to go back to this well again. Enjoy.

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HOT POINTS for The Week of March 8, 2010

KNOW ANYONE WHO SHOULD BE RECEIVING HOT POINTS?

Subscription to this wretched weekly screed is now available to anyone you might deem worthy. Just send your victims to www.slowburnblog.com and have them look for the subscription sign up box in the upper left hand corner.

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HOW’S THE PROMISE OF YOUR ADVERTISING HOLDING UP?

 

Everyone here knows how empty offers and hollow phrases get my blood pressure up.

 

Words that mean nothing, promises that are pointless, businesses who act like they’re being noble when casting crumbs.

 

The reference standard for this kind of cynical advertising emptiness is the car dealer who says he’s “going to be there for you” and whose big offer is “free floor mats!”

 

Here now, a little story about advertising and follow through…


 

GETTING CONNECTED

 

If you visit the website for Tributaries Cable, you’ll find a specialty company that makes high-end audio interconnects.

 

For the uninitiated, think Monster Cable, only smaller. (That’s not a swipe. Just a fact. It’s doubtful that anyone can actually be bigger than Monster Cable. Their annual sales are probably equal to the GNP for a small, Central American republic.)

 

On the Tributaries website, you see a headline that says, “Our whole business is a Tribute to you.” Yes, the writing is a little punny.

 

There’s also a big seal in the corner of the page that says “Total Satisfaction 100% Support – Tested – Warranty.”

 

Faithful readers to this pathetic weekly screed know how much I hate it when a company makes bold claims like that and never back it up.

 

 

NO SNAP, NO CRACKLE, JUST THE POP

 

For some time, I’d been facing challenges with my recording studio.

 

To make a long, geeky story very short, the system would occasionally go “pop!”

 

All for no apparent reason.

 

Sometimes, everything was just fine and I could continue on my merry way.

                                                           

Too often, though, I’d have to reboot the computer and possibly reinstall one of the audio drivers. (If this had ever happened while I was in a VO session with the client on the phone, it would have been…well…imagine the kinds of words that cause a movie to receive an R rating.)

 

After a lengthy period of troubleshooting, I isolated the problem to a specific digital cable.

 

That cable happened to be a Tributaries cable.

 

 

BEEN A WHILE SINCE I TOOK A TRIP DOWN THAT PARTICULAR RIVER

 

The digital cable in question is about 10 years old. It probably had a retail price of 25 to 30 bucks.

 

I’d had it, unopened and still in the package, until about two years ago when I put together the Slow Burn Recording Salon here in the Mountaintop Marketing Fortress outside Park City.

 

As for discovering the cable as culprit, it was no big deal. I replaced it with another cable I had handy. Since then, everything’s been peachy.

 

Subsequently, I happened to share my tale with Ubergeek Steve Cunningham. He’s a ProTools instructor at USC. His delightfully sordid past includes designing pro broadcast gear for one of the world’s most enormous electronics conglomerates, and touring as a sideman with an enormous arena rock band of note. Steve’s been around.

 

Steve said something that had been on my mind:

 

What piqued my curiosity, being the ubergeek that I am,is what was up with the old

cable. Was it not proper 75ohm coax? Or was it stepped on once too often, thereby

compromising the shielding? Sumpin’ else perhaps? Hmmm? Inquiring minds want

to know.

 

It was definitely a 75-ohm cable. So, being the neogeek that I am, I thought…

 

 

“HEY, WOULDN’T IT BE FUN TO SEE IF TRIBUTARIES HAS AN ANSWER?”

 

So, I went to the Tributaries website. There, among other things, I found a picture of Tributaries President Joe Perfito.

 

I met Joe a couple of times about 15 or 17 years ago. He might remember me, but really, why should he? 

 

I sent Joe an email and told him, very specifically, that this was not in any way a complaint.

 

I just happen to have a Tributaries Delta Digital Cable (which they don’t even make any more) that seemed to be bad right out of the 10-year-old box.

 

I also told him that there was a geek inquisition going on, and we were wondering what might be causing the problem.

 

I figured that if I could get some tweak answer out of Joe, it might amuse Steve.

 

 

WELL, I DIDN’T REALLY GET MUCH OF A TWEAK ANSWER OUT OF JOE

 

He said that it might be a bad solder or an internally bad cable.

 

That’s a pretty straightforward, default kind of answer.

 

But…


Despite all my assurances that it was entirely unnecessary, Joe absolutely insisted on not just replacing, but on actually MAKING a custom cable just for me.

 

He could’ve just send a stock replacement, which in itself would have been above and beyond the call.

 

And a lot of business owners I’ve known would have said the equivalent of this: “What? I’m not replacing his cable. It’s 10 years old! Who knows how many times his kids stepped on it and his dogs used it as a chew toy?! Replacing it costs too much! Send him a coupon good for $10 off his next purchase. Bah! Humbug!”


The poverty mentality in action.

 

But Joe offered a new, custom cable and refused to take no for an answer.

 

In a million years, there is no earthly reason why he should have his company do that.

 

Except that, like the headline on his website says…

 

 

“OUR WHOLE BUSINESS IS A TRIBUTE TO YOU”

 

And, “Total Satisfaction 100% Support – Tested – Warranty.”

 

I was floored.

 

In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been.

 

It seems there’s something in Joe that really enjoys doing this–not merely delivering the goods, but really surprising people.

 

It seems that Joe loves his work, and loves to share the joy.

 

And, he wants people to talk.

 

 

TALK WE WILL

 

I’ve already tweeted about it.

 

I will do it again.

 

This morning, everyone on this list now knows about Tributaries cable.

 

And soon, anyone who reads my blog is also going to be up to speed.


All this for the cost of a cable and postage. Probably much less than the $25 retail price of the original cable.

 

So, where does this kind of customer service come from?

 

Here’s my guess…

 

 

TRADITION, HONOR, INNOVATION, HIGH-QUALITY–AND A TOTAL LOVE OF THE GAME

 

This is a man who (a) is totally committed to his brand promise, and (b) likes to make his business is buzz worthy.

 

Buzz gets around.

 

Anyone doing business anywhere could take a page from Joe Perfito’s playbook.

 

Friends, it’s companies like this that create true brand evangelists.

 

So, how does your business go above and beyond the call?

 

Hint: it doesn’t start with empty promises and free floor mats.

As always,
 


Blaine Parker
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
Park City

3 Comments

  1. But how does somebody deliver the snap, crackle and the pop without being/sounding hollow and fake?

    Comment by NJCampgrounds — March 8, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  2. Dear NJCampgrounds,

    If the voice talent you are working with sound hollow and fake, it’s time to look for new voice talent.

    Be well,
    Bob

    Comment by Bob — March 8, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

  3. Subscribed! Thanks for the awesome heads-up, my friend!

    Comment by Amy Snively — March 8, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

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