In spite of social communication’s interaction, technology is inherently impersonal. Over twenty years ago, a commercial identified this problem and taught a profound truth: Don’t stray away from strong, personal relationships with your customers; it’s fundamental to your success and to our human nature.
The Speech: Truth in Advertising
The award-winning advertising agency, Leo Burnett, USA, created the commercial. Here’s a summary and its script, quoted from Todd Burud’s white paper, Small Business Marketing Philosophy. View the commercial on YouTube.
In 1990, the ad agency, Leo Burnett, USA, created a brilliant commercial for United Airlines. It’s known as The Speech. It begins with a middle-aged corporate manager speaking to his sales force in a crowded, standing-room-only, conference room. His sleeves are rolled up, his vest, unbuttoned. He paces back and forth, speaking in a humbled voice:
“I got a phone call this morning from one of our oldest customers. He fired us. After twenty years, he fired us. Said he didn’t know us anymore. I think I know why. We used to do business with a handshake, face-to-face. Now, it’s a phone call and a fax, and back to you later, with another fax, probably. Well, folks, some thing’s got to change. That’s why we’re going to set out for a little face-to-face chat with every customer we have.” (He solemnly hands out plane tickets).
The Burnett agency confirmed a gnawing uneasiness we all felt about our increasingly impersonal culture. It reminded us of what is more authentic to our human nature~”we used to do business with a handshake, face-to-face.” The commercial was brilliant, not because it was creative, but, sadly, because it was true.
Technology is partly to blame
The middle-aged manager referred to fax as an example of choosing efficiency over relationships. Today, he might refer to scans, emails, and clouds. These technological advances embed themselves into our culture, bringing both good and bad effects. But if we stretch the technological rubber band too far, it snaps us back to the need for face-to-face relationships. Truths are always true.
Midwest Prefinishing tries to maintain the proper tension. For example, we encourage you to take our Market Research Survey, an efficient way to gather your responses and to measure the marketplace. But we know you and your opinions better when we meet, face-to-face.
It’s the relationships that make business worthwhile. At the end of Burnett’s commercial, the manager, ticket in hand, said that he was going to visit an old friend (the customer he lost).