What's Care Worth?

A lot. That's common sense. But, caring is hard to measure and doesn't always pay off right away. That's why it's often overlooked, underfunded and underutilized as a marketing tactic. Instead companies hang on to things like rebates...a scheme with the opposite effect of building a relationship, which is what caring does.

In general, everything you do as a marketer falls into two categories...activities which build audiences of loyal raving fans....like care. And, activities which go for the quick, one time strike with little or no regard for future interaction or repeat patronage...like rebates. Care is more expensive up front, requires far more creativity and is harder to plan and execute. But, it always pays. A rebate strategy is cheaper, looks nicer on the surface and takes a lot less work. But, it relies almost purely on chance and carries a significant risk of annoying the audience in the process.

Rebate strategies place a low value on a customer's time, requiring them to prospect and "work" for value...easy for the company, hard for the customer. Those lucky to make it though are rewarded. Care is completely transparent and leaves no doubt that the company carries the workload to make things easy and better for the customer.

Companies employing rebate strategies often look at the short-term opportunities and forget about the long-term damage...the lasting negative image of the annoyance factor. Caring companies see the value of doing something meaningful and endure up-front long hours and expense to create a life long asset.

My last post, the photo of the Try Our Specials sign, demonstrates a subtle rebate tactic. It's easier to put up a sign that you can buy pre-made, that you never need to worry about changing and to make people walk in to find out what you're up to than to create a program and presentation that shows how much work you put into it. On the other hand, I've seen restaurant chalk boards and server menu  elaborations which left me wondering "how did they do that?" But, it never left me wondering why.

People place a value on care, more these days with free time so short and the annoyance factor so high.  They want companies to care enough not to make them fill out a form, not to stand in line, not to keep them on hold, not to have to enter their account number three times for one transaction, not to make them wait six weeks for a discount.

If you care, they'll be your friend, and they'll even pay you more.