I love advertising.

I’m one of those weirdos who actually enjoy watching ads on TV. As a result, instead of tuning out advertising as most of us do, I tend to pay a bit more attention to it, analyzing how they work and what they were trying to achieve. I love studying the different marketing strategies companies employ. And yes, I do have a mental list of ads I love.

But one particular TV ad stood out to me. This ad began with a man on a busy city street during a rainstorm. He was in a bright yellow raincoat selling umbrellas. A smartly dressed businesswoman caught in the rain purchased the umbrella and opened it up. To her surprise, it was only half an umbrella.

The ad itself was a bit of a failure. Why? Because I cannot remember what it was selling nor what company the ad even came from. I also can’t find the ad anywhere online – a cardinal sin for modern marketing. If you’re going to make a funny commercial, it MUST be posted to YouTube on the corporate account. But the ad did something unexpected. It gave you a wonderful piece of advice.

All that businesswoman had to do was ask herself: “Why is the umbrella salesman wearing a raincoat?”

Don’t trust an umbrella salesman wearing a raincoat.

It may be a new phrase, but this is hardly an original idea. “Walk the walk.” “Put your money where your mouth is.” This is a lesson everybody knows. That is why car companies give steep discounts to employees for their own vehicles. That is why Apple stores use iPads and other Apple computers for their cash registers. We all know that if you are seen with a competitor’s product or service, people begin to immediately distrust your company. And usually, the line of thinking for a company stops there. It stops at the optics and image and marketing.

But a company can’t just stop there. While on the surface this seems like a shallow, simple problem for the marketing department, in reality, this concept affects every facet of your business, right down through sales, operations, and finances.

It’s More Than Marketing

Let’s say you’re shopping for a car. You go to the dealership, and after a few minutes you end up in the driver seat of a car on the sales floor, with the sales manager in the passenger seat going over the features inside. Mainly, the touchscreen in the center console. You turn to the sales manager and ask: “Where can I manage my Bluetooth devices?”

You might not be aware of it, but the answer the sales manager gives you may be dependant on what vehicle the sales manager drives home in every day. Big questions such as horsepower, safety rating, and gas mileage can be memorized quite easy and don’t require in-depth knowledge. But the quirks of each vehicle – the touchscreen menu layouts, navigation, how to turn on the wipers, how to use cruise control – can vary wildly between manufacturers.

This is why car manufacturers give steep employee discounts to all their employees and also allow employees to borrow cars from the dealership for the day. You can’t memorize these intricate questions and details from a spec sheet. You have to live with the car, drive the car, and deal with those same questions yourself.

It’s not just about advertising – it also ensures quality customer service.

Apple & Customer Service

Apple doesn’t sell computers – it sells an effortless customer experience. And it’s no surprise that Apple uses what it sells. Apple stores use cash registers that are based upon Apple’s own hardware, such as the iPad and iMac. Now, this is not only for having more Apple logos visible in the store. If an Apple employee uses Apple computers all the time when they are working, they will have a much broader knowledge and much more experience, allowing them to answer more complicated and detailed questions. And for Apple, the quality for the customer (and future user) experience is the key to its success as a company.

This also saves Apple a lot of money. Apple doesn’t have to pay markups to another company to purchase machines. They can give the computers to their own stores for only the cost of shipping and manufacturing. This is also why when I saw a CAA truck outside of the St. Catharines collision center after it was in an accident, it was towed in on the back of a bigger CAA truck. This wasn’t just to prevent the public from seeing a CAA vehicle being towed by the competition, it was also an exercise in effective cost savings.

At Cloudchoice, we don’t wear raincoats.

I myself have kept this lesson in mind in my current job. I am a solutions consultant for Cloudchoice. We sell and implement software solutions such as Freshdesk, Zoho and Hippo Video. Of course, as with any sales pitch, you do have a list of features and topics that you wish to convey as part of your marketing strategy. However, with intimate knowledge of your product, you can tailor the pitch to each individual client. We use Zoho, Hippo Video, and Freshdesk every day on the job.

We use what we sell. I use my experience in our products during nearly every part of a client/consumer relationship. For example, I was in a meeting with an organization interested in purchasing Hippo Video wanted to know how the organization would be able to control and monitor the use of their Hippo Video accounts. With my experience, I was able to suggest repurposing the classroom structure for this organization’s needs. It would be as simple as just changing the title from “teacher” to “administrator” for the account. I was able to suggest the solution to the problem on the spot with no hesitation whatsoever, due to my experience actively using the product for myself.

Now that’s good customer service!