Some businesses are not necessarily great when it comes to marketing.  For example, much like accountants, tradies are good at what they do and believe that their strengths are in their technical skills – and marketing is left to those people who work in sales.  The thought of marketing and sales brings up images of the pushy used car sales person, and that is not what your business is about – right?

I truly believe in service industries (and let’s face it we are all here to provide a service to someone), the best type of marketing is the provision of excellent customer service.  If you go above and beyond in the services you provide, customers will tell their friends.  There is no greater complement you can get than a referral from a customer. Even if you think you are too busy for new customers right now, isn’t it great to have that choice?  What a nice problem to have – too many people wanting to use your services.

Think about your business – are you doing something just a little different to your competitor to earn a great reputation?

I want to talk about a business that is nailing the service model – and it is not a trade business, rather an online fashion business.  I love good news business stories and this one ticks many boxes as it evolved in regional NSW.  You may have heard of it – it is called Birdsnest.  (If you are a guy reading this you will not have heard of it so don’t stress).

I know what you are thinking – what can an online fashion business have to do with my family’s trade business?  I am constantly looking for ideas and inspiration everywhere.  When an experience stands out to me enough to tell other people about it, there must be something to learn from that business.  Let’s start with their story.

Birdsnest is located in Cooma NSW which has a population of around 7,000.  If you are not sure where Cooma is, it is the town on the way to the NSW snow fields where you stop at McDonalds before you hit Jindabyne.  Some people stop at the McDonalds a little earlier on their journey to the snow – in Goulburn.  Goulburn is where my business is based.  Both towns are famous for their McDonalds, sheep and for being cold.  Neither would be considered a place to go to build a national business.

Yet that is exactly what Birdsnest has done.  It employs 140 local staff in Cooma.  Their online fashion business has that point of difference due to its customer service focused.  In their own words:

Over 85,000 women have told us about their body shape, favourite colours, their lifestyle and other elements that are important to them in creating the perfect wardrobe. We have responded by designing our own in-house labels to address those needs. Our range now consists of nine ‘bird brands’ along with carefully curated styles from our favourite brands and suppliers which we hope you love. We are constantly trying to extend the size range and offer sizes 8 to 18 in most styles with some now up to size 24.

Yes, they have lovely clothes, but it is the service that sold me.  The first time I purchased something from Birdsnest I got the typical email saying my parcel was on its way – as is typical with online shopping.  I was really surprised when the parcel arrived the very next day.  Not only was my parcel beautifully packed but there was a hand written note thanking me for my purchase, and welcoming me to the Birdsnest family.

I also received the beautifully curated seasonal brochure which I shared with my Aunt.  She purchased something and called me to express her delight at the speed of the delivery, the packaging and the personalised note.  All this would have taken only a few extra minutes to do, but it made the brand stand out.  I was an instant fan and so was my Aunt.

I ordered something from Birdnest later and along with my package and the hand written note, I received a cookbook.  This 60 page book contained the favourite recipes of the Birdsnest staff.  It shared their names, job roles and reasons why these recipes were so special to them.  It bought the culture of the workplace into my home and made me realise why the customer service is so exceptional.  The people are real, they have stories.  The business has a story, it is a regional business making it big, while maintaining its country values.  As the person buying the clothes, I want to be part of the story as well.  This is better marketing than any paid advertisement I have seen.

I am not suggesting you make a cookbook or write a personal note to each client, but how much attention do you pay to customer service?  Do you (or your staff) answer the phone with a smile? Do they arrive on time for a quote or a job?  Do you provide a text message to update your customer on the arrival time?  Do you provide your quotes and invoices in a professional manner?  Do you thank your customers for the business they have extended to you?

The public do not necessarily know which business has the best skills.  Go onto any community Facebook page and you will find people asking for recommendations.  We rate our Uber drivers and our AirBNB hosts on their service.  It will not be long before we will be doing the same thing with our Tradies, Accountants and other service providers.  Maybe we already are doing this (Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews)?  Don’t be left behind.  Start thinking about what you can do to stand out from the crowd.  Get inspiration from others, and sometimes that means looking beyond your industry for ideas.

Sometimes it is the smallest things that create the best results.