I enjoy political theory. That is an understatement. I eat the morning news for breakfast is probably closer to the truth. Many facets are fascinating to me, but today I am going to focus on one. Hang tight, this is still a business column, I promise.
In national politics, and local too it seems, there are versions of the truth. Not necessarily conflicting, just viewed with different perceptions. It is in the perception that so many staffers, consultants and speech writers find employment. In business, we call them marketers. While substance, quality and truth are important, there is no getting around the importance of delivery.
Now, let me go ahead and concede that if your product is the cure for a deadly disease or something that causes one, nobody is going to care about the delivery. They will take the one any way it comes and the other will result in a failed business. We are talking in generalities. We are targeting the norm, the largest demographic, with a useful, yet typical, product. Like in politics, lots of options could do the job, but you can only push the button for one. The delivery makes all the difference.
When we talk about delivery, we are addressing a few things. We are talking mainly about method, packaging and message. Let’s walk through it. I will use the example of sending flowers for those who don’t care to imagine and encourage the rest of you to come up with your own. It’ll be easy, I promise.
Let’s say you are sending flowers to your wife or mom or whomever. While placing your order, the clerk explains they have a new value added service. You can choose who delivers your flowers. Because the program is new, there are only three options. One is overly attractive and knows it. The next is
well groomed and mild mannered. The last resembles your textbook definition of unsavory. I won’t tell you which one to pick. Consider the way the intent of the flowers is altered simply by changing the method of delivery.
Being a great salesman, the clerk insists that sending flowers without chocolates is not a good idea. You agree and he presents your options. One is a beautiful heart shaped box trimmed with a delicate lace and adorned with a bow. The next is simply wrapped box using an appealing paper and tied with a ribbon. The third is a brown paper bag held closed with elephant stickers. I’ll give you a minute to consider that last one. The chocolates look, smell and taste the same, in theory. They will "feel" different based on the packaging alone.
You think you are finished when the clerk reminds you that you haven’t included a card. Again you are presented with three options. The first is a handmade gem that expresses sentiments that gives you goose bumps. The second is a nicely printed greeting with a typical, yet sincere, expression. The third has a smudge on it and says something on the level of "I am glad you didn’t get run over by a herd of cattle." Flowers are beautiful and the chocolates are divine. The message will seal the deal or make your name mud.
As suppliers of products and services, we must understand that, while those things are important, we cannot overlook the delivery. In a time of competition, options and availability, it may be the only thing that sets you apart from the rest. At the very least, it will define for the public who you are and what your business is about. It will, intended or not, convey your standards, ethics and dedication to your craft. When all things are equal, or even close, it is all about the delivery. But I would love to hear what you think.
April Groves covers all things business for the Bryan County News. You can send thoughts, press releases, tips and questions you’d like answered to agroves@bryancountynews.