Counterintuitive Brand Differentiators (Terminix story)

I recently returned from a 2-week trip late Friday night. Exhausted, I slept-in on Saturday, forgetting a routine Terminix® Pest Control visit I had scheduled. When I awoke, after the appointment time, I wondered if I’d missed the doorbell? Or was this service was an outdoor only visit? I’d need to find out.

But the very thought of “finding out” was daunting:

  • Dial 800 number
  • Find/enter account number
  • Listen to option lists
  • And more option lists!
  • Press buttons to identify myself and my problem
  • Wait on hold
  • Say “no” – to “do you want to take a survey?”
  • Finally, talking to someone in a call center who may or may not know the story…  

And so, I procrastinated. A few days later, I found on my front door a note from Keith who worked for Terminix®, and had been at my house. The note read as follows:

Terminix note

WOW! As a consumer, I could call a real person – who was at my house and would know what was what. I would talk to him or get a call back — within 24 hours! Nirvana.

As a Marketer, these thoughts crossed my mind:

  • Clever marketers, even in mature industries where there is little functional differentiation to be had, can create entirely new points-of-difference.
  • A Brand Point-of-Difference that has nothing to do with why I am in the Category can create fierce loyalty and advocacy. 
  • Consider personal service PODs as “back to the future” opportunities to seize in today’s impersonal world.

The lesson: Look for potential Brand differentiators that may have little direct connection to why consumers are in your Category.