Just yesterday I received a completely unexpected and touching email:
- A subject: “small souvenir from my archives…”
- An attached photo, which I report below (I’m the one next to the monitor, over ten years and ten kilos ago…)
- no text
In fact, no other words were needed. Thoughts says it all. Thank you very much, my friend….
The photo was taken by my French friend Thierry during a meeting in our Milan office in 2004.
Thierry was then responsible for a European product line of one of our most important customers, a multinational office automation company.
We were at that time supporting them in launching a new solution throughout Europe.
I don’t remember the exact timing, but a few months later that corporation went into crisis, and was then acquired.
The European management was reset to zero all of the sudden…
…and suppliers, including us, were left out of business within two weeks.
At that time, we hadn’t even systematized our marketing activities in any way, let alone made lead generations.
Turnover collapsed in a flash of 35-40%, leaving us in a very difficult situation.
Up to that point, we had acquired customers through my personal contacts.
This is what happens to many SMEs: the owner takes home the first customers thanks to his personal contacts, and everything seems to work well. But then the contacts end, the company in the meantime devotes all its time to existing customers, and it suddenly stops looking for new ones.
Let’s be clear: it’s right to serve customers well.
Being remembered more than ten years later proves an excellent customer-supplier relationship. And, apart from the fact that I really appreciate all this, it leads me to renew my belief in customer care.
But what happened then taught us above all that we had made a very serious mistake: the way we had done marketing… was not marketing!
It was what I call “pesudomarketing”.
That is, we had created beautiful products. And we were selling them, but we were actually just pampering our customers. We didn’t do anything to actively get new ones!
The lesson was hard, but it made us realize on our own that we should never again “depend” on just one customer.
And so, I started to look for a solution, until, after an impervious path and dodged dozen charlatans, I finally arrived in the (for me new) eden of direct response marketing.
We began to test it, touch the first results with our own hands, appreciate its reliability, and since then we have never abandoned it again.
On the contrary, we have even distilled it into our own system, called TheSystem, which is the foundation of our marketing and sales activities today.
To see how it works, and what benefits it could bring to your company,
Thierry is now sales director at a major telecommunications company.
We never had the chance to work together again, but the relationship that was created in those years was based on respect and mutual trust and we are still in touch.
For example, he (the customer) gave me (the supplier) the computer bag that I have used until recently and that I still keep with affection, as if it was a high-school ex-girlfriend’s present…
And among the memories the photo made me recall is also his “fuse theory”: a disenchanted approach to management that I will talk about in a future article.