Okay, I know it's only July, but I can always get excited about Christmas. I love everything about it, including the holiday movies that appear on TV every December. I'm one of those snobby 80s kids that hasn't watched many black and white movies, but I do love the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street. There's a great scene in that movie that I think can teach modern marketers something very important.
While talking to a parent at Macy's, Santa shares where she can buy a toy for cheaper at another store. When the manager first gets wind of this, he's furious. That is, until he hears from the customer. She goes on to tell him how that one act changed her feelings about the store:
"Listen, I want to congratulate you and Macy's on this wonderful new stunt you're pulling. Imagine sending people to other stores. I don't get it...Imagine a big outfit like Macy's putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial. It's wonderful. Well, I'll tell ya. I never done much shopping here before, but I'll tell ya one thing. From now on I'm going to be a regular Macy's customer."
Ironically, this came after Kris Kringle was told how to "be a good Santa" by pointing customers to specific products while talking to kids. At that moment, it was all about the sales push at any cost. Little did they know that it wasn't even necessary to make the customer love the brand.
Back then, the writers probably thought it was just a unique twist. Today, it has so much meaning because success in social and content marketing is heavily rooted in trust. Granted, you don't have to suddenly hop on Twitter and tell people to check out your competitors, but you can still offer up some unexpected surprises:
Would that be scary? Why?
Because it might be more than your competition?
Because it might run people off?
You can't think that way. That store manager thought the parent would run off to the other store and never come back. It was scary to him!
Then, it went from scary to rewarding.
The same can happen to you in the real world. Why? This is a consumer-driven digital world, and people go online to search for answers! If you provide them (and the competition doesn't because they're too scared)...YOU become the trusted one. It's not about being expensive. It's about finding answers from a source that's willing to be honest with their audience.
If that store manager was in the parent's shoes, he would want to know where he could buy something for cheaper.
THERE LIES THE PROBLEM.
Marketing hats are pulled so tight on people's heads, they forget what THEY want as customers. Free yourself from that, and you'll put yourself in a better position to become a trusted brand.
You won't even need Santa's help to pull it off.