I took my son to the Art Gallery of Ontario a few weeks back.  My son, being 3 years old and fairly full of beans, trotted around in circles in the waiting area while I sorted out tickets.  The staff made sure to remind me that my son shouldn’t touch anything.  Once inside, we were followed closely by nervous staff.  I didn’t blame them.  I would be nervous too if I saw an energetic boy skipping around my precious collection.  I’m pleased to report he didn’t touch a thing.

The next time I went to the gallery I was with a friend.  Surprisingly, we got the same treatment.  Any time we leaned in for a closer look we were reminded by the staff that we shouldn’t touch the art.  The message was repeated no less than 4 times during our visit.  We were both wearing the “Members Matter” slickers that were given to us at the members desk yet the staff seemed certain we didn’t know the basic rules of gallery behavior.

For marketers it’s important to remember that slogans like “members matter” or “customer focus” are meaningless if the product or customer experience fails to deliver as promised.  Sometimes that’s harder to do than you think.  It means you have to step outside the marketing department.  Product marketers in particular need to reach into other parts of the organization to make sure that the messages communicated are not simply what the customer would like to hear but actually reflect the reality of the product or customer experience.  Customers know when you’re lying.

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