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How a ride-along can speed innovation and sales

By Martha Bartlett-Piland, MB Piland Advertising + Marketing windshield_speed_ride_alongWhat could you learn if you and your employees really rode along on your customer's journey?

It can definitely build your brand.

Here's how to learn more and get profits speeding ahead.

how do others really experience your brand? After a recent hectic day of shopping, I stopped at a famous coffee shop for a pick-me-up. I wanted to make a stop in the ladies room and since I was alone, I had to take my coat, handbag and packages with me. As I entered the tiny, dimly-lit space, I searched in vain for a place to hang my coat. I wished for a countertop to park my parcels and I grumbled to myself: I wish the architect of this establishment would have to try out this restroom like I am right now. (Yes, it was a curse.)

It got me thinking about how customer experiences everywhere are often goldmines waiting to be discovered—if someone digs. Brands can be greatly improved by simply creating a route to help them journey into the unknown.

Don't just ask your customers. Observe them in action.


some concrete examples

manufacturers If you manufacture and sell durable medical equipment, have you ever gone into a person’s home to see how she uses it? If you did, 4 things might happen:

  1. You’d observe some opportunities for product improvements that help customers and distance your brand from the competition.
  2. You’d (hopefully) have even greater pride in the work your company does as you see how it changes another person’s life.
  3. You’d have empathy and a stronger sales presentation, smarter marketing materials and better trained employees.
  4. You’ll increase sales and profits.

bankers walk_in_the_customers_shoesHit the pavement!

  • Go visit your customer in his factory to see how his product is made.
  • Attend a trade show and observe how he responds to his competition.
  • Shadow along on some sales calls.

Find out his challenges, wins and losses and what happens in his business on a daily basis.

Walk in his shoes and I guarantee you’ll be better positioned to offer him services he really needs—not just what you think he needs. And yes, you will both increase sales and profits


Now that you have the idea, plan how you will apply this concept to your industry.


include employees on this trip This exercise isn’t just for you. Now that you’ve seen the potential ROI, get your employees involved, too. Send them on ride-alongs with:

  • customers
  • employees in other departments
  • suppliers

Create a forum for employees to share what they’ve learned through your intranet, staff meetings and other gatherings.

Soon, a new perspective can spread throughout your entire organization. A culture of innovation and action will prevail. Profits will naturally race ahead.


MBPilandMartha Bartlett Piland MB Piland Advertising + Marketing

approach While most agencies focus primarily on a brand's outward effects, we start with the inside. A brand that's well understood and executed internally is exponentially more effective. It attracts and retains the best talent—and is more profitable. It's head and shoulders above its competitors because everyone in the organization is living and breathing the brand. They're "drinking the Kool-Aid," not just putting on a name badge and going to work.

thinking NO SILOS. We firmly believe HR, marketing, operations and sales must be in step and working together. We look at processes, sales channels and the referral base. Who are the fans? The detractors? What do they need? We analyze all internal touch points of a brand—and make sure they're aligned with the external. The result is a powerful, enviable internal culture because the brand essence permeates every touchpoint.

model We EXPERT SOURCE. Our team leaders strategically use open source, world-class creative talent: the best and the brightest for every client every time. We aren't limited by a staff with a finite skill set. We're nimble, flexible and scalable.

clients Our clients improve the health of individuals or communities. Many are rapidly growing companies. They're entrepreneurial thinkers who have mission and purpose.

- See more at: http://www.mbpiland.com/about/fact-sheet#sthash.xYEXPN6x.dpuf

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