02/26/2011: "What Makes a Really Great Business?"
Have you ever wondered why some businesses seem to go from no-name nothings to giants while others just sort of wither away?
Well, there's a reason for that. More than one reason really.
I'd like to submit that great marketing can save almost any company or business unless the business is really a piece of crap.
For example, Amazon is a great company. When it started, it made no profit. The analysts wondered how it could ever survive. But survive it did. And it prospered. Now it's running off most of its competitors.
Amazon has great marketing. But it also has a great business model. One of the secrets of its success is the way it personalizes the buying experience for each visitor. It remembers what you like and caters to those likes.
Amazon also has exceptional customer service. Contrast that to Hewlett Packard that has horrible customer service. I'd rather have a root canal than call Hewlett Packard customer service.
But the HP marketing is not shabby. So, in a way, the marketing is the tape that holds the company together. The products are not that great in the opinion of a large number of customers.
Other great online company's are Vitacost, Drugstore.com, Running Warehouse, Roadrunner Sports and Monster.com to name a few. These businesses, like Amazon, personalize the customer experience and they have great marketing.
They all capture names and send out frequent email. They offer special deals to people who have bought from them in the past or who buy frequently.
I get these welcome emails from Shoebuy.com, Finishline, Petscriptions, Microsoft and many more. I also get requests to review products from Sears and other companies I've bought from online. Some of them also send me surveys to garner my opinion of my buying experience with them. I even got one from AT&T if you can believe that.
My point? All great businesses, large and small, know how to market their products and services. But, they also provide above average customer service, fast and dependable shipping and high quality products. Many offer free shipping when you buy enough in one order.
One of my favorites is runningwarehouse.com. They give you free shipping both ways and, to top that off, they give you free two-day shipping! It doesn't get much better than that. I don't think they market themselves enough because I don't think enough people know how great the company is. It's every bit as good as Zappos, which is also a fantastic, successful online business.
The bottom line: It's all about marketing and customer service. When both are working on all cylinders, you've got a successful business. Oh, you need one more thing, good products and/or services.