Monday, July 1, 2013

A Brand's First Impression

Your Brand On Wheels 

By Candy Parks – Director, Integrated Insight

I can’t think of a single company that would allow their customer-facing area to be littered with trash or manned by a chain-smoking receptionist who cusses like a sailor.  If only companies paid as much attention to their vehicles on the road!  When your name and phone number is plastered on the side of a truck or car, that vehicle – and the person driving it - is representing your company and your brand – and providing a first impression for some consumers.  Like it or not, people form impressions of your company based on ALL of your touch points – including the ones on the road.

Living in the tourist mecca of Orlando, I see some extreme ‘brand’ vehicles like  Shamu car, Boston Lobster Feast’s Lobster car, and of course, those famous Truly Nolan mouse-mobiles.  Those vehicles are always impeccably clean and driven by people who understand they are on display and representing their brand.  They politely smile and wave at gawkers and even pause to let people take pictures.  As a result, you’re left with a ‘good’ feeling about those companies.

But what about the plumbing company truck that has trash flying out the back?   Or the electrical company truck that has a faulty tail light?  Or the appliance repair service truck that has black smoke billowing out the back?  Are these the people I want in my house?  Definitely not.  If they are this ‘messy’ with their vehicles, I assume they will be as careless in my home.

I pulled up next to a mobile dog groomer at a traffic light one day.  The window was down and the driver was on the phone, absolutely screaming at whoever was on the other end, pounding the steering wheel, and cussing up a storm.  As it happens, I was in the market for a mobile groomer for my two English Springers.  I called the number on the door of the van and got a really, really nice person on the line.  I asked about pricing for all the services I wanted for my dogs.  Then I explained why I would NOT be using their company based on what I saw at the light next to me.  Watching that van, I knew in an instant I did not want this person touching my dogs.  They lost, easily, $1,800 worth of annual revenue from me based on that one sighting. 

Cleanliness of vehicles (and drivers) matters.  Research has shown that cleanliness is associated with safety, security, and attention to detail.  Maintenance matters.  If your vehicles are not well-maintained, I as a consumer assume that you are not paying attention.  Courteous driving matters.  If your driver is aggressive, I assume this person is either hasty in their efforts or rude.  Neither of these is desirable if I’m looking to hire your services.  And I fault you, Mr. Company, for not making it clear to your drivers that you expect them to be polite and safe on the road.

So while you are busy managing your marketing budget, consider managing the marketing that happens on the road, as well.

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