HOW THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN?
I've left the mountain west and have traveled to the heartland.
I'm here to see a client.
I'm in the bar of a famous hotel chain.
It's a Saturday night, and the place is about half full. It's not long before a server comes over, welcomes me, and the next thing I know--
She's sitting on the arm of the chair next to mine, we're deep in a conversation, I know what her fiancé does for a living, and I'm having a great time.
I DON'T EVEN HAVE A DRINK YET AND I DON'T CARE
We'll call this woman Enid.
That's not her real name. But like her real name, it is unusual and it contains various letters.
Of course, eventually, Enid needs to get back to her actual work, and I need to place my order.
So, we do that.
And over the course of the next hour or so, she pops back periodically to check on my adult beverage needs.
And during those brief conversations, because it's part of what we do here at Slow Burn Marketing, the subject turns to personal brand.
I remark upon hers.
I say, "We define brand for the small business owner as the one way your core customer should feel about your business. So, what's the one way you want your core customer to feel?"
ENID DOES NOT MISS A BEAT
She is definite and concise.
She says, "I realize that my customer has been traveling, and I want them to feel comfortable and welcome."
Feeling comfortable and welcome means different things for different people.
I could've been a road warrior who showed up with a laptop, digging into my CRM software.
I could've been a family on vacation.
I could've been a team of reps here for a sales meeting.
She attenuates her degree of hospitality accordingly, for the person or people she's serving.
She knows how to read not only the room, but each table in it.
AND I'M WILLING TO BET THAT SHE GETS THE TIPS
It's hard to imagine anyone spending five years working in an airport hotel bar if it doesn't pay well.
But there's also another quality at work here, something I did not address with Miss Enid, but seems a significant quality so often missing in the workplace--especially one with a transient customer base.
Enid owns this bar.
Not on paper. This gigantic international hotel chain does not have a written agreement with her conveying rights, tenure and title to the bar.
NONETHELESS, WHEN SHE'S THERE, SHE OWNS THE JOINT
This is her bar and welcome to it.
Enid is one of those people The Fabulous Honey Parker and I enjoy stumbling upon: Someone we'd love to hire if indeed we had a business that actually hires people.
We don't have that. Honey is Slow Burn Marketing's President For Life, she keeps me around, and I do not get a salary.
Few employees would be willing to endure such an arrangement.
Nonetheless, "I'd Hire That Person" is a game we play.
And people with a passion and a commitment to their work, a joy for the job, and a strong sense of personal brand (regardless of whether they actually understand it in those terms or not) are huge and valuable.
THIS EPISODE IN THE HOTEL BAR ALSO GOT ME THINKING ABOUT THE ENTIRE TRAVEL DAY
How many different people did I interact with during my day?
How many service employee touch points did I go through?
There was the harried customer service agent in the airline's self-check-in area
There was the impersonal and efficient bag-check agent behind the counter.
The courteous, efficient hipster millennial working the Clear kiosk.
The big, goofy, smiling and happy TSA agent making sure nobody in the Pre-Check line was packing water.
YES, THERE ARE EVEN GUYS AT TSA WHO ENJOY THEIR WORK
In the premium lounge, there was the odd and grinning desk agent who may or may not have been on opiates.
The happy and efficient bartender in the premium lounge.
The frustrated and sweaty gate agent who laughed as he apologized over the PA for the failure of the fan in the over-warm gate area.
The first-class flight attendant who remained funny and engaging despite having to keep running and jumping through multiple hoops. (I high-fived her on the way off the plane.)
The hotel shuttle driver who pulled up to the exact spot where I was standing at the curb, opened the door, and laughed when I said, "See how you knew?"
The hotel desk clerk who was bubbly and fun after only five days on the job.
AND THEN, THERE WAS ENID
A server I don't know who plopped on the arm of the chair and started a conversation that led to this random blather about personal brand, ownership, and making the customer feel welcome and comfortable.
There were dozens of customer service touch points throughout my travel day.
Each of them was with the representative of a particular brand.
Some of them did better than others.
Some of the experiences were fleeting and unmemorable in the grand scheme of things.
But it now has me thinking about something that impacts how each of these people treated me during that day.
And it's my personal brand as a customer.
What is the one way I want my service providers to feel about me?
That's a whole other screed of a very different kind.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
Blaine Parker helps people sell their stuff. An advertising Creative Director and Copywriter at Slow Burn Marketing, he specializes in big-brand thinking for small-business marketing. He has the voice of a much taller man.