Some time ago, I took two of my young grandsons to a West Michigan Whitecaps baseball game. The Whitecaps are the Class A farm team for the Detroit Tigers that play ball in my hometown, Grand Rapids. Like many of the minor league venues, the ball game is just part of the entertainment experience. It’s fun. There’s funky food (like a “dietary disaster” 4800 calorie Frito burger—I’m not kidding), contests, door prizes, promotions, and the gamut of seating options—lawn, box, reserved, corporate suites and party decks for hosting private events. That’s where the brand ambassador comes in for Batteries Plus.
We bought cheap seats (the cheapest ones without sitting on grass). Since it was far from a sell out that day, we pretty much owned the section. Nearby, a large corporate employee event occupied the private party deck along the third-base line. The grills were fired-up and families with lots of kids were taking in their host’s festivities along with the game.
At the top of the fourth inning, a guy from the deck made the trek over to our section and invited the boys and I to join their corporate family party. “Are you sure?” I asked. He was from an area Batteries Plus store, a manager if I recall correctly, and he assured me they had plenty. I have to admit, at the time an entire store dedicated to batteries seemed foreign to me. A whole store? Just batteries? I couldn’t help but ask and he shared some insight into their brand, their business model and plans for more locations including one in my northwest suburb. We were fed generously, enjoyed great seats with a front-row view of the game and left with Batteries Plus T-Shirts, hats and untold knowledge about the battery business.
Okay, I’m the first to admit this experience falls into the “beyond exceptional” category. But with or without the invitation to the party, I couldn’t get over how well he knew and represented the corporate brand. Someone at the day-to-day, customer-facing level. It’s a brand that you might think of as B2C but in fact they do a big B2B business as well. “Marketing Starts on the Inside” is one of key differences we emphasize in our 15-point What Makes B2B Marketing Different at Proteus B2B. In B2B, countless people within the company, not just marketing folks, have access to and interact with customers. All of those people need to understand the brand, live the brand, and deliver the brand every day. We believe the B2B marketer’s first job is to market internally and align others in order to create brand ambassadors.
At the time little did I know, nor had given much thought to my battery consumption—and how it would only grow with wireless everything. Let see, laptop, mouse, Chromebook, iPad tablet, cell phones, cordless phones, camera, smoke alarms, scooter, cars, and solar pathway lights quickly come to mind for me and I’m sure I’m missing many more. Of course, the hospitality and freebies didn’t hurt; it was a nice gesture from essentially a stranger. But more importantly, I was most impressed with how this unassuming “brand ambassador” lived the brand and converted me into a loyal customer—for business and home. Although the Batteries Plus brand is one I’ll never forget—I’m sorry “Battery Guy,” your name escapes me. It’s been a while, but I do want to say thanks again—and nice job. Every company could use brand ambassadors like you.