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November 20, 2009

Is You Is or Is You Ain’t?

4 minute read, in Brand Strategy / Impact / Marketing / Meaningful Marketing / Needle/Mission/Agenda / Perception / Service

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I recently made a big leap and made a nice sized (for me) donation to a non-profit organization. It was the right fit–it spoke to my values, and resonated with me personally.  It is the new fundraising arm of an existing foundation. To recognize the first group of funders who banded together for the cause, we were feted at an event and given a view of the Founders’ wall.

One of the perks of being a founding member is being included on an artist rendered wall. Who wouldn’t want their name in lights? I was invited to a lovely dinner, met lots of very nice people and had a ton of warm and fuzzy feeling for being part of something good. At the end of the evening, the Founders’ wall was revealed and was received with a very positive outpouring from the donors.

Later on, after the crowd dispersed, I wandered back to the wall to get a closer look at the plaque commemorating our donation. The names of the 300 Founding members were rendered onto the plaque with stickers. Fancy stickers, but stickers nonetheless. I wandered down the hall at other plaques recognizing other donations. All of those were etched in stone. Don’t get me wrong. The organization deeply appreciated the contributions of the donors, and we in turn felt that appreciation. But this detail created a sense of duality that called the rest of the experience into question.

It’s always like that. It’s the little stuff that makes the biggest impact and creates a sense of loyalty. If, for example, you were an airline and you believed I would be yours forever and never do you wrong, you wouldn’t mind giving me a free cup of coffee (even a latte?) a tiny biscuit, or let me make a call using your phone (’cause I don’t have a cell)? You’d give me free internet in your lounge. I mean why not? I’m coming back, right? This is the story of Porter Airline. If you’ve flown Porter you knew it, if you haven’t flown Porter, you must try it. They make it feel like a relationship, not a quickie in the back of the car. They’re courting me. I’m all over it.

Air Canada on the other hand (world’s easiest target, I know) announced today that they’d be providing wifi during flights. Wow. Great. But of course it comes at a price. $9.95 on a laptop or $7.95 on a smaller device to be exact. Last week, they announced that they’ll charge you up to $22 each way to sit in the bulkhead. I get that Air Canada’s having some major financial troubles. But they seem to be getting further away from the solution to their problems. You can treat me like a one night stand. We can mutually consent to shack up. But then don’t turn around and expect me to marry you.

This issue exists on a much smaller scale. Recently, I had to buy flowers for an event. My usual stop, Jaiden’s Petals was closed. So, I ventured further afield into a flower shop I generally avoid. It seems nice enough. But scratch the surface (just like those damn stickers at the Founding funders event) and the illusion disappears. Buying flowers, a generally feel-good experience, felt like nothing more than a money grab. And that experience was defined by the smallest of details; the quality of some of the blooms, the lack of caring service, the feeling of being rushed. So I took as few blooms as I could and left, never to return.

Here are some of the keys to a healthy, long lasting relationship:

  • Never take the other person for granted; I may be here today, but if you don’t treat me like my mama said, I could be gone tomorrow
  • Make me feel pretty; Pamper me a little, indulge me. And act like you mean it
  • Take it slow; Delay instant gratification for a longer term win. Court me. I’m worth it
  • Call me after; Keep in touch. And not just when you want something
  • Don’t lead me on; Don’t tell me we’re forever if you don’t really mean it. I might get mad. And you don’t want to see me when I’m mad.

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