DeWese--Brand Loyalty Works In Printing, too
I was eating a Boar's Head smoked turkey sandwich and, although I'm an investment banker and supposed to read The Wall Street Journal at lunch, I was, in fact and as is my habit, reading the label on my jar of Kraft mayonnaise. The same can be said for the Cheerios box at breakfast and Rita's tabasco sauce label at supper. I have been reading the label since I developed a fierce loyalty to Kraft at age six. That was more than 50 years ago. There should be a law that every deli and sandwich shop have Kraft mayonnaise available as an option to the huge jars of "other" mayonnaise they use.
When I was six I would make Kraft mayonnaise sandwiches. No meat, no cheese, no tomato, no lettuce, just mayonnaise. Now that I'm 56 it seems immature to eat mayonnaise sandwiches, so I've added a slice or two of Boar's Head turkey or ham or roast beef.
I had slathered the aforementioned mayonnaise on Maier's "country-style" potato bread. This is clearly the most delicious white bread I've ever tasted; just as any sandwich meat bearing the label Boar's Head is the best I've ever tasted.
All three of these brands are among the most expensive versus their competitors. I'm not real sure, but I believe my Maier's bread is about $1.60 per loaf. The Kraft mayonnaise is maybe $2.69 per jar and any Boar's Head product is about $7+ per pound.
They could double the prices and I'd buy them. They are my old friends—dependable, consistent quality. So price be damned.
I buy all this food at Genuardi's grocery store. I wouldn't shop anywhere else. Genuardi's is a chain of about 40 stores. It is run by about 10 Genuardis—Mom and Pop, about eight of their grown children, and probably a few grandchildren, nieces and nephews working in the stores.
Each of their employees treats me as if he or she was Mom and Pop Genuardi themselves. Pop Genuardi, incidentally, founded the company with a pushcart that he personally propelled through the streets of Philadelphia. There are never any long lines at Genuardi's because they've got plenty of cashiers and folks who actually bag your groceries. When I've got two carts full of stuff, someone helps me take it to the car.
Sure, sure, Genuardi's is probably the most expensive grocery chain in the Philadelphia market, but you must understand that I'm getting smiling service. It's fun to shop there.
All of this eating has resulted in my requiring size 50 portly short suits. Oxford, Hickey Freeman and Brooks Brothers could care less about guys shaped like fireplugs. But, Burberry cares.
They've taken a real interest in my "special need." They make a complete line of "fire plug" suits, sport coats, top coats and, even, formal wear in a wide range of fabrics. So, I go to the fourth floor (the Big and Tall department) at Boyd's in Philadelphia to buy the uniforms I must wear in my profession. Boyd's cares about me and my special needs. They've provided me with a salesperson named Tony Sangantini who doesn't smirk when he sees me coming. Tony has never once said, "Harris, if you'd lose about 50 lbs., then you could buy suits in our "regular" department." Tony has a special sidekick, Nick (almost every tailor I ever met is named Nick), who fits and alters the clothing I buy. Boyd's and Burberry could conspire to raise the prices but I'd keep on buying.
Nick and Tony know my name and remember things about me. They make trying on suits a pleasure. I can select three suits in less than five minutes; it's the trying on for the fitting that I hate. As a matter of fact, I can buy almost anything in five minutes or less. People who have earned my loyalty have learned that I have some need, probably misguided, to make fast decisions.
Nick, by the way, always has a lot to alter because I've got size 50 shoulders, a formidable gut and virtually no posterior. This, of course, requires considerable structural reductions in the legs and seat of the pants and a requirement that I wear braces to prevent the potential disaster associated with a big gut and no butt. No matter how much constructive work is required, Nick always has my suits ready on the day promised. He then requires that I try on the suits to make sure he is satisfied with the fit. This is called on-time delivery and quality control.
All this brand loyalty rhetoric brings me around to the topic for this column: customer loyalty. I'm talkin' 'bout customer loyalty to your printing company and to you, the salesperson.
All the big hitters I've ever known have created longstanding customer loyalty for themselves and their companies.
They created the loyalty for themselves by:
1 Never lying to customers or even remotely misleading a client about anything;
2 Being available and responsive at any time or any place when the customer need them;
3 Learning about their customers' professional needs as well as their personal needs; and
4 Representing their customers as advocates in the plant.
They developed loyalty to their companies by:
1 Being "big" enough to share the credit for on-time deliveries, special services and quality with the folks who produced the job in customer service, production and in the plant; and
2 Selling the virtues of the company rather than themselves.
I love to hear satisfied and loyal print customers brag about their printers and their salespeople. They are "brand" loyal and brand loyalty is something that I understand.
Now, I've got some Boar's Head roast beef, Maier's bread and Kraft mayonnaise that's begging to be consumed. So put this magazine down, go out to the parking lot, find your car, get out there—create a little loyalty—and sell something!
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something!" published by Nonpareil Books. DeWese is a principal at Compass Capital Partners Ltd. DeWese specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He is one of the authors of the annual Compass Report, the definitive source of information regarding printing industry merger and acquisition activity.