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Friday, January 18, 2008

Untold (good) stories

Dr. Shahzad Khan, director at and BECC Construction Group Ltd's Zulq Malik at Khan's new medical service facility in Markham, Ontario.
Yesterday, I soared among eagles. The exhilaration of sharing hours with bright people who know what they are doing, and conduct their business with down-to-earth integrity, is something to savor -- and repeat wherever possible. With my southern Ontario representative Chase, along with Zluq Malik, president of BECC Construction Group Ltd., Dr. Sharhzad Khan, at (Blu Skye), and Michael Porter and Fred Thoms at Porter Airlines, I learned about the airline business, innovative and entrepreneurial medical practice (which complies with Canada's public health insurance system), integrity, and competence.

Their best stories unfortunately I cannot share publicly -- they related to the interfaces between the competent and less-than-competent, and the resulting consequences: Delays, bad will, litigation, and waste.

In spontaneous conversations, we explored the difference between entrepreneurs who build their businesses with integrity and a long range vision, against the scammers who live for the moment, and seek to screw every cent they can out of the other guys. Our conclusion, business people who 'get it' can sniff out the crooks and phonies pretty quickly; we get burned from time to time, but ultimately clients, suppliers, and peers want to keep doing business with us. Success, we realize, is not all about material trappings -- expensive cars, over sized homes, luxury vacations; 'stuff' does not make the world meaningful -- we can look at the tragedies of people with poor health, failed relationships, and poverty of spirit to see they are not the stories we wish to experience.

(It is a little frustrating that I cannot share the best stories here; the ground-rules in writing these advertising features is the clients must review and approve copy before publication, and in exchange they speak with me freely and without inhibition. And I have enough common sense to respect their confidences.)

What does this have to do with marketing? Everything -- because, as I seek to impress here -- marketing is all about the stuff behind the scenes as much as it is the businesses public presentation. Sure, BECC's Zulq Malik is unabashed in asking his subs and suppliers to help contribute to the costs of the marketing piece we are writing -- but he relates to them with respect, on an equal footing, and seeks to ensure they do well in their business (and since Zulq's business is growing, it makes real sense for the sub to support his marketing process.)

And when I told Michael Deluce about an irritating (but for most people, invisible) flaw in Porter's reservation computer system, he didn't brush the matter off -- he determined to find out and fix the problem.

In the end, you can gloss over the real situation, and try to paper over your image with a public persona -- and you might even get away with it. But if your business heart and soul is founded on innovation, integrity and intelligence, great marketing will propel you forward to higher levels -- and not cost you much money at all.


Anonymous said...

Value is Relative.

Each consumer assigns levels of "value" to every purchase . This is their perception, the only "perception" that is important. Not ours. Not a marketer's. Not a neighbor's. Not a show room sales person. But theirs. Furthermore, what represents "value" in a hierarchal manner to one potential customer is often not the same for another. In my 40 odd years in the business world I find it amazing how many business owners and executives have never learned about their customers hierarchal sense of valuing a purchase. Those entrepreneurs who do are those who find success, not in terms of money, but in: "Yes! I was right!" What an exhilarating feeling.

How one does determine these exact hierarchal values lies neither in advertising nor marketing, but in personal contact, usually by front line personnel.

Advertising and marketing only creates an initial interest, not an unimportant aspect in initial relationship building. But determining those value levels and providing them via personal contact represent the moment of truth where promises are made or broken, and subsequently, businesses fail or flourish.

My hat is off to those companies you mentioned. We need more like them as examples of what is possible when enthusiasm, integrity, and a sincere commitment to serve, actually walk the talk. These companies deserve their success, which ever way they decide to define it.

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Sonny, well said.
Interestingly, a service provider for whom I am seeking a quote on a significant project, has just asked me for the equivalent of a "design meeting/fee" right out of your book. I declined (the fee, not the meeting) because I had just spent a significant amount of money on independent consulting (though referral) with a non-competitive provider (he didn't even pretend to make specific recommendaions on who I should use for implementation) but who gave me a reasonable estimate of the time and skills required to do the work. And, of course, the people seeking the work here --unlike the consultant I used in the first stage -- have not established sufficient brand credibility for me to lock down with them. (Notably, the consultant who started with me set out the total cost estimate for his services before we began, and he has lived up to these -- including the modest but important amount of follow-up and interface with the ultimate service provider.)