Relationship Marketing Pt.3
This past weekend was my daughter Whitney’s 26th birthday. Where in the world does time go? I recalled a birthday she had 11 years ago, when she turned 15. I was traveling for business and, for the first time in Whitney’s life, I was not going to be home on her birthday. I remember struggling with that, and was feeling really bad that I wasn’t there on her special day.
On that trip I was attending a Malibu Boat Dealers convention in Austin, Texas. At the time, I was offering a customer follow-up system that automatically sent out pre-scheduled greeting cards and postcards. This was the second time I had been asked to participate in their annual event.
We had a booth where we explained our program to dealers from all over the United States and Canada. I was also given 30 minutes to speak in their general assembly about the importance of relationship marketing.
The first year, my presentation was very businesslike. I had professional slides that explained the importance of creating genuine relationships with customers. My presentation also went into details about how our follow-up system would help businesses accomplish their relationship marketing objectives. After the presentation, several dealer owners came back to our booth and we helped them set up custom follow-up campaigns for their dealerships.
The following year was the event in Austin. It was two days prior to Whitney’s birthday. I had prepared a presentation similar to the one I had done the year before. It came time for me to deliver my speech and I had just spoken to my daughter on the phone. That phone conversation invoked a prompting to change my presentation. Five minutes before I went up, I asked the on-site production team to change my slides.
I started my speech by explaining that I had this fancy slide show ready to share with them. I told them it had details about how our follow-up system worked and why they should consider using it. Then I explained that I would not be sharing that with them. “I have a daughter who will be celebrating her birthday in two days,” I told the crowd. “For the first time in her life, her dad will not be there. Why? Because I am here with you.” I jokingly said I liked them and all, but not near as much as I liked my daughter.
“So instead of showing you all the details of what we can offer you, I’m going to ask all of you to help me send a special birthday card to my daughter,” I said. Right there from the stage, with the assistance of the big screen, I showed them how I could do that. I chose a birthday card that we had in an online catalog of cards, showed them that I could type a message on the inside of the card, and asked them to help me with my message. They were yelling out things I should say and even birthday salutations from all of them. When we were finished, this is what the message said:
This is your dad. I am writing you this special birthday message in front of 100 Malibu boat dealers in Austin, Texas. They all want to wish you a happy 15th birthday. They all want pictures of you because if you are as good looking as your dad, you must be a real cutie (ha ha). I love you pretty little Whitty. Happy birthday, beautiful.
You can imagine the fun we had doing this as a group activity. And Whitney still has that birthday card some 11 years later.
After the presentation, there was a line of people at our booth unlike anything we had ever experienced before. We helped over 30 dealerships set up accounts after that presentation.
What do you suppose caused the extra excitement for people swarm to our booth? Obviously, I shared a personal story about my family that everyone in the room could relate to. I remember one gentleman telling me that he, too, had a daughter whose birthday he was missing; he was crying during the presentation.
By the way, this took place in 2002. It was the first time we had presented in public the ability to choose a card, type a message and click a send button, where our service would print a physical card, stuff it in an envelope, and attach a first class stamp.
It’s 11 years later. We have sent nearly 100 million greeting cards and 3 million gifts on this system. Obviously we have a service that the marketplace loves and needs.
But the message I am sharing with you is far more important than what my service has offered. It’s about what you offer. What message do you have in your heart for your family, your friends, your customers and all those you associate with. In today’s day and age it is more important than ever to reach out in kindness. People need to know that you care for them. It is essential in your personal life and in your business life.
I challenge everyone to reach out to others without any thought to what you might receive in return. It’s not about what someone can do for you — it’s about what you can do for them. What you send out is what you get back in life. Send out kindness and kindness returns. Send out appreciation and your life appreciates.
I wish my daughter, Whitney, a very happy 26th birthday. You have blessed our lives in so many ways and we celebrate the greatness you offer the world.