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“I don’t need 15 or 20 customers coming in my store.  I need 100s.” A retail store owner explaining why he was dropping our program.

It was then I realized I was a reformed ad guy.  I was fighting for a targeted marketing program for this upscale niche retailer.  And, he wanted a mass media ad program.  In a former day, I would have delighted in his words and been excited to create such a program.

Instead, that was the moment I realized I had truly gone to the “other side.”  To Zealotry Marketing.  He wanted faceless bodies.  We wanted to build passionate supporters – Zealots.   And, what he wanted was not the right answer.

“I need numbers –  I just need more customers – our people will be able to sell them if I just get them in the store.”

Respectfully, I said “No.  The right 15 to 20 ‘guests’ will be better for your store.” He shakes his head in disdain.

“Why?   They will embrace your store and the reasons you carry the type merchandise you do.  They will value your “value add”, not just be browsing because of a deal that they saw in an ad.  A deal that you offered below cost, by the way, to attract these 100s in the first place.”

“But, here’s the real rub.  The right 15 to 20 customers – they will return.  And, because they highly value what you offer, they will tell their friends.  And, some of those will come to visit.  So, in time we will deliver the 100s, only they will be attracted to your store for the right reasons and are willing to pay for it.”

“Well, you may be right.  But, I don’t have time to wait for that.  I gotta have numbers now.”

We shook hands and departed.  Last I checked, his mass “numbers” approach had not helped his store avoid treading water financially.   So, much for the short term solution.

There are very few quick fixes in marketing.  Most mass media campaigns do not return a positive ROI.  Most referral-based programs do. It’s simply a matter of when.

At heart, great brands deliver a distinctive experience that is personal and can motivate referral.  Zealotry Marketing is about creating programs and touch point channels that encourage such referral.  And, mass media can play a role.  Whether it is communications, service or product, when the program focus tips to mass versus personal, the ability to create Zealots diminishes.  The basis of referral is a one-to-one action.  The basis of creating a sustainable referral program is Zealotry Marketing.  It’s not a quick fix.  But, it is a sure, and profitable fix.

I’m about creating winning programs.

Maybe, that’s why I’m a self-confessed reformed Ad Man.

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