December 25, 2012

Powerful Marketing Lesson from Miracle on 34th Street

By Patrick Mahan

Miracle on 34th Street is not only a classic Christmas movie, it's also one of the most powerful marketing lessons of all-time.

In the movie, Macy's department store discovers their Santa Claus is sending customers to competitors. If Macy's doesn't have the item, or if a competitor sells it for less money, Santa Claus tells the parents where they can go to get it.

This outrages the manager of the toy department. But when Mr. Macy receives hundreds of telegrams from thankful parents expressing their gratitude for placing customers ahead of profits, Mr. Macy quickly embraces the radical new policy. The store becomes the talk of the town and sales shoot out the roof.

This is a powerful lesson in customer service, the power of word-of-mouth marketing, and the impact front-line employees can have on the success (or failure) of your brand.

Below is the dialogue from the movie...

Mr. Macy speaking to his executive team:

"On the face of it, I admit this plan sounds idiotic and impossible. Imagine, Macy's Santa Claus sending customers to Gimbels. But, gentlemen, you cannot argue with success. Look at this. Telegrams, messages, telephone calls. The governor's wife, the mayor's wife... over 500 thankful parents expressing undying gratitude to Macy's. Never in my entire career have I seen such a tremendous and immediate response to a merchandising policy. And I'm positive, if we expand our policy, we'll expand our results as well. Therefore, from now on, not only will our Santa Claus continue in this manner, but I want every salesperson in this store to do precisely the same thing. If we haven't got exactly what the customer wants, we'll send him where he can get it. No high pressuring and forcing a customer to take something he doesn't really want. We'll be known as the helpful store, the friendly store, the store with a heart, the store that places public service ahead of profits. And, consequently, we'll make more profits than ever before."

Are you brave enough to implement this "customers first" strategy? Or do you believe this stuff only works in the movies?

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