August 2013, Orillia, ON – Our focus at the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC) is on supporting our local businesses and the economy. Because of this, I always make a point of speaking to small business owners when I am out in the community to find out what they feel they need for their businesses to grow.  Without a doubt, and perhaps it isn’t that surprising, the most frequent answer I receive is ‘we could use some help with marketing’.

The end goal is generally to increase awareness of their product or service so that ultimately, they will increase sales.  This seems to make sense and sounds simple but there is more to consider when it comes to moving people beyond simply being aware of your brand to becoming a loyal customer.

In the workshops we offer through the CDC’s Professional Development Program, I often ask participants ‘What comes to mind when you think about marketing?’  Most people think of traditional forms of marketing such as advertising, brochures, business cards, networking, and social media.

I want to share a story that I think will help to demonstrate the value in looking beyond these traditional methods of marketing.  My dad stopped by my house a few nights ago and almost immediately started telling me about some of the challenges he was having with his car.  Granted, it is a few years old but initially, I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t more upset about the issues he was facing.

In fact, he went on to share how impressed he was with the reaction he had from the car dealership when he went in to complain.  They greeted him positively, took him in right away to have a look at the vehicle, promised to take care of ordering the new parts immediately, and scheduled him in for service.  He went on to tell me about how they wash his car when he takes it in for service and how they will take the time to explain, in detail, everything they do to the car.  They will even take him to show him what they are doing to the car if he wants.  He continued his story by telling me all about the great people who work there and how much they seemed to care for each customer.

So, even though he walked in with a complaint, the people at Orillia Volkswagon saw this as an opportunity to make him a loyal customer.  And they succeeded – beyond succeeded.  Not only is he planning to attend an upcoming car clinic as he considers his next new car purchase, but he is now out telling his family and friends all of the things he likes about volkswagons (and the list goes on).  Most importantly, he always talks about how well Orillia Volkswagon treats their customers.  Obviously, they handled this situation well.  They found a way to ‘stand out’ in the eyes of their customer and are now benefitting from some free positive word of mouth marketing because of the situation.

Prior to hearing this story and since I have never owned a Volkswagon, I can honestly say that the Volkswagon brand had not had any impact on me, either good or bad.  However, now that I have heard this testimonial, when I see a Volkswagon advertisement or think of the brand, I am reminded of my dad’s positive experience.

That is powerful marketing for Volkswagon.

Perhaps this story has really hit home with me because I also recently had the pleasure of hearing Scott Stratton speak about “Un-Marketing” while I was attending the Ontario Self Employment Benefit Program’s annual conference held by the Business Enterprise Resource Network (BERN).

During his presentation, Scott said “marketing is not a task” and went on to explain that it is not something you set out to complete and forget about.  While there is a place for traditional marketing and advertising to support your business, he believes that marketing is what you commit to do on a daily basis through the operation of your business.  The way you or your employees act or react to situations that impact your customers can significantly impact your on-going marketing efforts.  The level of customer service you provide can be a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to marketing your business.

This is true in the example I have shared about my dad’s car.  And, I would guess that most people could come up with a situation in their own lives where either their own experience or someone else’s experience has impacted their opinion of a business.

The bottom line is that in order to set your business apart, you need to do something great that is worth talking about.  If you do, I believe you can only enhance the success of your marketing efforts and ultimately, build success in your business.

For more information about business coaching, business or professional development or business loans with the CDC, please call us at 705-325-4903 or visit

The CDC is a federally supported not-for-profit organization, working with community partners to develop and sustain the local economy through:

  • Business Financing
  • Business Counseling; and
  • Community economic development projects.