GBD Seniors Lifestyle Marketers
rooster statue illustration

Are roosters in your sales process?

 17 Nov '15

Heather’s story
Wedding Countdown – Day 32
I’m sitting here curled up on the lounge with Mr Biggles (my tabby), sipping a delicious chai latte as a gaudy Venetian glass sculpture of a rooster stares at me from across the room. It’s eyeballing me. I’m eyeballing him. Mr Biggles is uneasy, sniffing at it and jumping back as if stung by a wasp.

The room is festooned with discarded wrapping paper, ribbons and cards. The first of the engagement presents have arrived (Robert’s out golfing of course, and I hadn’t been able to wait for him to improve his handicap before opening them). Only now I wish I had. What part of “please donate generously to the Foundation for the Education of the Eskimo People of Greenland’s Marine Conservation Program” has Aunt Enid misunderstood? It had been the only gift listed by us on our engagement party invitation. After all, what is more important than converting the Eskimos from fish to vegetables? A Venetian glass bird apparently. But why a rooster? My aunt obviously hadn’t thought a chicken to be an impersonal gift to a vegan. Helloooo?? Let’s be honest, she doesn’t really know me at all.

So it seems we have hit our latest wedding speed bump. First the stress over the marriage celebrant. Now the realisation that I’m a complete stranger to my own family.

Jeff’s thoughts
When I read Heather’s story, I sympathise with her on:
a) not liking the glass rooster (in fact who would), and
b) not being known for who she is – it seemed her aunt had bought what she liked, without thinking through what would suit Heather more personally.

Each day when I’m at my desk working on marketing campaigns I’m weighing up if what we will put in front of our target audience reflects who they are – our goal each time is to connect personally with them.

If you haven’t made that connection then you could be handing that new village resident the proverbial glass rooster instead of their favourite champagne. Or a new doormat instead of tickets to their favourite play. Sure, it’s a nice gesture but have you pressed the emotional hot button? That home run that will have residents telling their friends about you over a coffee and cake? And is there any better lead in our business than a referral?

In the US, word-of-mouth advertising generates over one third (yes, one third!) of retirement village referrals. (The key phrase being word-of-mouth.) Frankly, formula-based marketing, rather than relationship marketing is old school (I touched on the importance of the personal approach in my last blog would you retire in the same village as your parents?) Sure, you’ve all heard the phrase ‘relationship marketing’ before but I’d like to unpack it for a moment.

Who responds better to relationship marketing than a retiree? They’ve been absolutely hammered for years with a smorgasbord of marketing messages and are particularly sensitive to insincerity. They smell it approaching like Dencorub or mothballs. So they’re naturally sceptical of disingenuous heavy-handed selling tactics and therefore, more than any other age group, make consumer decisions based on relationship values.

A few years ago a Lexus car salesperson took a 60-year-old lady for a test drive. A conversation began with the features of the vehicle and led to a discussion on life, children, the arts and music. By the time they returned to the showroom, the salesperson had made a genuine connection with the customer and as a result made the sale. When it came time for the customer to pick up the car, she couldn’t make it to the showroom so the salesperson said she’d drop it off. Once she handed over the keys and left, the customer while marvelling at the car, was shocked to find a wrapped present on the front seat. Unwrapping it, she was completely blown away to find 20 of her favourite CDs as a thoughtful gift. Of course she raved about the salesperson and brand to everyone she knew. She became an advocate.

Albeit simple, this intuitive salesperson’s approach is the perfect example of relationship marketing. She didn’t push a cold, hard sell through retail-based selling tactics, but instead understood and emotionally connected with her client. She acted on principle, rather than formula.

Too often we, as marketers, do the opposite. Instead of acting on the principle of client connection, we rely on a nice but impersonal sales formula. We hand our Heather a set of Dean Martin albums instead of Pink Floyd CDs. What does this say to her? It says “I don’t really know who you are but am going through the motions”. Rather like her aunt. So instead of going through the ‘motions’, we can recalibrate our sales approach and start going through the ‘e-motions’, and give our client that little bit extra. We have a view here at GBD that the difference between ordinary sales service and extraordinary sales service is that little bit extra. So relationship marketing and the road to new sales may mean extra time and effort, but if you’re careful, you should be able to both close the sale and earn some high-quality referrals.

I’d love to know if this method of marketing has worked for you? And if it did, what did you do to build the relationship? Did it lead to referrals? Any good anecdotes? The best answer wins a bottle of appalling cooking wine. Just kidding, the good stuff. Promise. ;-)

In our next blog Robert’s best man causes a stir over a photo of Robert’s ex-wife in Fiji and I’ll be discussing what goes through the mind of a potential resident when they arrive on site to examine a retirement village. It might surprise you.

’Til then…!

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About the author

My name is Jeff McGarn, the managing director of GBD. I’ve worn many hats in the creative field over the last 45 years and have worked on over 200 retirement projects.

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