Getting Ahead From Behind

There has been a lot of talk on the national level about a rebounding economy and an optimistic outlook for 2011. While we are obviously glad to hear this, we also must face facts. We are all members of not only the national business community, but also the local one. The Tampa Bay Business Journal, a friend to AMA Tampa Bay, recently ran an article that abbreviated some research from Leadership Florida. The article is pertinent to consumer outlook and mindset for the state of Florida. Polling questions included everything from general economic outlook to job growth to Floridians’ feelings of trust for both government and business. This research is published annually.

Highlights from the 2011 Leadership Florida Data

  • 21 percent of Floridians say they are seriously considering moving out of the state, up from 17 percent a year ago.
  • 73 percent of Floridians rate the performance of the federal government as “fair” or “poor.”
  • 75 percent of Floridians rate the performance of the state government as “fair” or “poor.”
  • 69 percent of Floridians believe community business leaders do what is right for the state only “some of the time” or “never.”

For those in the marketing field, the last statistic should ring home most clearly. It can easily be inferred that most Floridians believe that private enterprise is not involved enough in the community. Obviously a balance must be struck between profits and community, so this data presents a good opportunity to brush up on relationship building.

Relationship Building

There are a lot of ways to show customers that your company or brand cares. If you distinguish yourself from competitors by showing that you can pay attention to both the community and to individual customers, you can successfully overcome the stigma that any number of research studies might help us to define.

Building Relationships with Individuals

  • Keep promises. Too often marketers seem to reach for sales via broken promises or tag lines that never pan out for the consumer. If you advertise one price, do not have a laundry list of “necessary” add-ons waiting for the customer. Of course you want to increase each sale a bit, but think about the last time you had someone show up for a carpet cleaning that ended up costing you nearly twice the price that got your attention. Did you ever do business with that company again? Also avoid verbiage about how you are the best … show your customers instead.
  • Be personal. A small investment in some database software lets you store a wealth of customer information. Not only will it lead to up-sells, but it also lets you remember your customers more clearly. Most people are sensible, so they realize that your staff does not necessarily know them personally, but if you remember that they often purchase a particular type of item or that people like gift certificates on their birthdays (read “gift certificate” not “pre-printed Happy Birthday card”), then they will fell closer to your brand.
  • Testimonials. You don’t just need references to get a good job or to be accepted into a quality university … you need them to sell also. Encourage your happy customers to write about you on your website, for marketing collateral, or in a media outlet. Testimonials develop into word-of-mouth advertising if nurtured. Trust builds exponentially, so get your foundation started now.

Building Relationships with the Community

  • Goodwill marketing. This topic might have been covered in your first collegiate level marketing class and that was for good reason. With more than 60 percent of Floridians believing that business leaders operate instinctively out of self-interest, every marketer has an opportunity to build relationships with the community via goodwill marketing. Donations are good—the better the cause, the better the impact. If you want to step it up a notch, you can make sure that you sponsor a community event per month. Get involved with local charities, schools, and anyone else that is out there improving the community. These partnerships will help to shape the public’s opinion of your company.

This data does not mean that Florida is a bad place to do business. It does represent a warning that consumer sentiment might require some work for companies that want to continue to thrive in the Sunshine State. With some creative campaigns and effective communication, this mindset can be turned around. If you are interested in joining forces with other marketers who have both experience and fresh perspectives, visit the American Marketing Association of Tampa Bay online. In addition to networking opportunities, members have access to informative speaker series and constant updates for the marketing professional.


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