Article Date: 8/1/2009

Well, It Sounded Good at The Time

Well, It Sounded Good at The Time

Unfortunately, inconsistent messages rarely fall on deaf ears.

Jim Thomas

When my daughter asked whether she could buy a pet lizard, I answered with a vintage parental reply: no. Unaffected, she continued: "But Dad, I'll take care of it myself." Every parent reading this knows my response: "You'll take care of it? Where have I heard that before? When you asked for your pet goldfish? When you asked for a dog? When you asked for a sister? Yeah, that's where I heard it. Now, you'll have to excuse me, as there's a dog to walk, a diaper to change and an aquarium to clean."

A strong defense … not

From a parent's perspective, my defense is strong, if too sarcastic: Here are three sound logical reasons why you're not getting a lizard. It sounds good. Yet from my daughter's perspective, things couldn't be better. The above rant only serves to demonstrate that on three separate occasions, one of us is a pushover. Sure, I'll complain and say no. But in the end, she'll get the pet — the pet that my wife or I will ultimately walk, train and clean.

As we walked out of the pet shop with the leopard gecko, I still didn't get it. My words weren't consistent with my actions. I should have told my daughter yes, or we shouldn't have visited Lizards 'R Us.

Mean what you market

We've all experienced inconsistencies between messages and actions. I once watched a TV commercial for a phone company that boasted the fewest dropped calls. I saw it no more than five minutes after my cell phone (from the very same company) dropped several calls.

Inconsistency often occurs because the leadership that develops and delivers the message is usually not the deliverer or recipient of the service. Some leaders don't understand their customers' — or patients'— expectations (created by the message) or whether their experiences were consistent with the marketing message.

For example, in visiting an optometric practice that markets a state-of-the-art optical, patients expect a large selection of frames presented in attractive displays. They expect friendly, professional service. They expect a knowledgeable staff — as opposed to the optician who didn't know that the lenses prescribed to the patient wouldn't fit in the frames she helped the patient choose. Many patients value fashion recommendations. And all would expect excellent service after the sale.

Delivering anything less — no matter how appealing your message and your intentions — is the surest way to derail even the most savvy marketing campaigns. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: August 2009