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Are you unrealistically optimistic? Most marketers are, and it is not particularly healthy. Think about it: a marketer’s job is usually focused on generating leads. About great design. Attracting attention. Building. It’s other people who have to worry about delivering the product or service, headcount, logistics, and the vagaries of technology. The marketer merely needs to communicate a message of we’re great to the right audience at the right time.

Unfortunately, this optimism can get in the way of an honest appraisal of marketing disqualifiers: the factors that hinder – or reverse – the development of a positive relationships. Some examples:

  • A bad first experience
  • Spammy emails
  • Overly aggressive business development/sales processes
  • Poor service or product quality
  • Missed deadlines
  • Inaccurate (or surprise) invoices

When even one of these occur, the relationship becomes weaker, imposing a costly impact on the organization:

  • Reduced engagement
  • Poorer retention
  • Negative Social Media “buzz”
  • Diminished brand
  • Fewer referrals
  • Negative impact on internal culture

These factors are all dead weight that any future marketing initiative must fight against.  No matter the brand promise, if a prospect is thinking “Yes but”, marketing effectiveness is diminished. This is the powerful law of unattraction.

This week’s action plan: Effective marketing requires marketers to temporarily suspend their optimism, and ask one simple question: What is unattracting us from our target? And then work just as hard to address these blemishes as they do on “traditional” marketing activities. Only when this is done, can the marketing investment fully pay off.   This week, identify your organization’s most unattractive feature, and begin the work  to fix it.

Marketing Insight:  With so much effort spent on attracting the “new”, existing relationships are sometimes taken for granted.  Relationships, however, never stay the same: an ignored relationship grows weaker over time, not stronger.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Mind the (Service) Gap

by Randall Craig on August 24, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Retention

Tagged as: ,

How often have you been disappointed by an experience with a supplier? When it happens, it is usually because of a very basic problem: a gap between your expectations of service (or quality), and their expectations when delivering the service. Reducing frustration and disappointment is easy… if only you could get rid of that pesky gap.

Here are some ideas:

1) Set reasonable expectations: You expect five-star service at a five-star restaurant – but what is a reasonable service level for a three-star diner? (Hint: not five-star!) Often, we set ourselves up for disappointment by unreasonably expecting more than a supplier is capable of providing.

2) Communicate your requirements: Too often, a gap exists merely because the two parties don’t understand what each needs. Does “next in line” mean a 10 minute wait, or an hour? Ensure that there is understanding by being clear about your requirements, and finding out beforehand if there may be a problem.

3) Solve problems early: For larger “transactions” find ways to monitor the progress periodically. If there seems to be an issue, it’s always less expensive – and less frustrating –
to address it earlier in the process.

When we reduce the gap to zero, and exceed client’s expectations, an interesting thing begins to happen: our great performance becomes the new norm. Then to exceed this new norm requires even stronger performance. And so on. While some may see this as a problem, the opposite is true: we have created a virtuous cycle where the mere interaction with others causes us to improve.

This week’s action plan: Whenever you communicate with others, you are either setting an expectation, or delivering against it. Before you blame others for disappointing (or frustrating) you, consider your role in the matter: did you set reasonable expectations, communicate your requirements, and solve problems early?

Social Media bonus idea: Expectations are set in the Social Media world as well. This Tipsheet comes out every Friday, and has for almost six years. What expectation am I setting in readers minds? Consider your own Social Media posts: if you were reading them, what implicit promises are you making? What expectations are you setting? Set the right expectations, and you’ll never have to worry about the gap.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



by Randall Craig September 22, 2009

What makes you happy at work? And what makes you unhappy? While you can probably list many items in each category, are they opposites? If something makes you happy, will the absence of it make you unhappy? According to the psychologist Frederick Herzberg, the answer may actually be “no”.  Job satisfaction is influenced by Motivators, […]

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No Conflicting Advice

by Randall Craig January 6, 2009

There are great colleagues, and there are bad colleagues, and you have to work with them all. But what happens when your interaction with the bullies and the slackers begins to influence your success? Here are some strategies you might use to get back on track: Approach them: It may be that the offender is […]

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Coffee is for Closers

by Randall Craig June 10, 2008

Several years ago, a sales manager came into the office with coffee for his team. He distributed the coffee but seemingly ran out before the last rep was served. Needless to say, this person was upset, and spoke up. The manager’s reply: “Coffee is for closers. When you start closing sales, then I buy you […]

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Trusting Opportunity

by Randall Craig January 8, 2008

If you are in the profession of sales, and your key contact at a client quits, is this a good thing or a bad thing? If your boss moves to another department or a division, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Both of these situations are full of risk. Your new manager […]

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Holiday Nocations

by Randall Craig December 18, 2007

When you go away on your vacation, are you really taking the time to recharge? Are you spending that promised time with your loved ones, creating those memories that you will cherish for years to come? Or are you spending your time checking emails, taking calls from the office, and stressing about your deadlines. If […]

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Interview Questions

by Randall Craig October 23, 2007

Research shows that people don’t quit their company – they quit their boss. Think about it: the best managers can coach you… or kill you. They can approve training… or they can throw you to the wolves. Every organization has great managers – and some duds. That is why job interviews are equally about you […]

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Nickels and Dimes

by Randall Craig August 7, 2007

If you had a choice to be paid either $50 or $100 for a service that you performed, which would you choose? Most of us would choose the greater amount; after all, if we have to do the work, why not be paid as much as the market will bear? Take the money and run! […]

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by Randall Craig January 11, 2007

No, it has nothing to do with Airline strategy. When you start a new job, honeymoon period. Then reality sets in. Employees will either thrive (good hire), disengage (walking dead), or become journeymen (consistently average work.) What can we do to improve employee engagement, reduce start-up stress, and improve retention? The concept of “onboarding” refers […]

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When Opportunity is Lost Instead of Weight

by Randall Craig December 13, 2006

Have you ever been given one of those cube-shaped paper pads, with corporate advertising on the side? They are very convenient, and a clever way to get your name in front of your market. Not too long ago, I was at a trade show where Weight Watchers had a booth. (They were selling their services […]

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Celebrate Your Staff

by Randall Craig September 19, 2006

Most managers recognize that their staff and colleagues are the ones that are directly responsible for their success. But how often do we recognize them for it? No one likes to be thought of as a “work unit”: we are all individuals doing (hopefully) important things. Recognizing, and celebrating your staff isn’t hard, and doesn’t […]

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Making Great Coffee

by Randall Craig July 11, 2006

Not every work day is a great day. Your boss is pressuring you about a deadline. Your co-workers aren’t doing their share of the work. Your staff aren’t doing their normal bang-on job. And of course, you forgot to bring change for your morning Starbucks, which means that you are stuck with the yucky stuff […]

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