Home

Do You Have A Marketing ‘Rose’?

A ‘Rose’ is something out of the ordinary you do for your customer after the sale is completed. It has to be something the customer would not have expected when they made the purchase and come with no hint of an agenda to solicit either future business or referrals. It gets its name from the following short story which illustrates the concept.

A woman in Florida goes down to her kitchen one morning and finds a huge palmetto bug crawling across her counter. She freaks out, runs to the Yellow Pages and calls the first exterminating company she can find. "How soon can you be here and how much does it cost", she asks. Back comes the reply "we can be there in one hour, it costs $75, and we give you a 30-day guarantee." The exterminator arrives within an hour as promised, sprays, gives the woman the guarantee and leaves.

A few days later, another woman in a house a few blocks away comes down one morning and finds a huge palmetto bug crawling across her counter. She freaks out, runs to her computer, Googles "exterminating companies" (she is a few years younger than the other woman), finds a different company and calls them on the phone. "How soon can you be here and how much does it cost", she asks. Back comes the reply "we can be there in an hour, it costs $75, and we give you a 30-day guarantee." The exterminator arrives within an hour as promised, sprays, gives the woman the guarantee and leaves.

When the second woman comes back into the kitchen, however, she finds that the exterminator has left a single red rose on her counter with a note that reads "I am so sorry that you had this unpleasant experience, and I hope that you enjoy having your kitchen back".

Both companies provided an identical service at an identical price, and there was no difference in their level of service delivery. Which woman do you think told her friends about her exterminating experience?  Is there a chance that the second woman also posted something on social media?

The object of the Rose in this story is obviously to generate goodwill and word of mouth referrals. Its genius is that the gift and the way it was given linked back to the experience the woman had in finding the bug, was in no way promotional, and addressed her emotional concerns.

Not all companies can find something this effective but it is well worth the effort. There are four principles that seem to apply in identifying what your "Rose" might be. Each one gives rise to a thought process you can apply to identifying your "Rose".

  • Whatever you do must be after the sale is completed and not as part of the sale.
  • It must not be branded with your logo or solicit business directly in any way.
  • The gift or action must be understated and completely unexpected.
  • The gift or action must be memorable.
  • The effect on the customer must be a "wow".

Some good examples of "Roses" I’ve come across over the years are:

  • The high-end kitchen installation company that sends out a four-star chef to cook a meal in the kitchen once the job has been completed.
  • The car wash that gives you a coupon after you wash your car that offers a free wash if it rains within 24 hours of your car being washed.
  • The airline where the pilot personally calls the parents of children travelling alone to let them know that their children have landed safely.

Another example is the residential remodeling contractor who gives the customer a prepaid cell phone with his number on speed dial. This example, however, takes us into a whole different discussion about differentiation, because this idea is something that would really help if it was part of the selling process.  This could also apply to the car wash and the kitchen installation company, and it is a matter of judgment whether it is more powerful to use this as a selling tool upfront or create a wow that will lead to people raving about your service. 

The idea behind the ‘rose’ concept is that it’s an unexpected nice touch at the end, but perhaps in creating the ‘rose’ you’re actually creating something you can use as part of your promotional activity, and that’s something you’d have to decide…assuming you have a ‘rose’ in the first place!

What is your ‘rose’ and, if you don’t have one, is it time to start working on one?  Even if you don’t find one that meets all the ‘rose’ criteria, can you find something that becomes a point of differentiation for you?