Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Overdeliver Overwhelm

Seems like everyone is parading under the flag of "Underpromise, Overdeliver". But what may seem like overdelivering to one person might feel like an overwhelming dump to another.

If you've ever had the surreal experience of going to one of those day after Thanksgiving Super Sales at 5am, you're lured by promises of "goodie bags", "super discounts", "free TVs", and the like.

Now most folks are intrigued by the possible savings so they hunker out of bed at 4am, still hungover from too much food the day before, and head off down to their local big box store thinking they're getting something really cool for practically nothing.

"We Overdeliver!" promise the ads.

So what do you walk away with? A bag of soap samples, a big discount on merchandise that isn't really that great and a free TV that is so cheap it becomes a doorstopper within a few months.

I'm seeing a lot of "Overdelivering" on people's websites, particularly in the free download department. I must say, I come from the "if it's free you take it" school (a mantra drilled into me by my mother, who must have carried that message from growing up in the depression).

I order stuff and as a thank you I get tons of free stuff, "valued at over $1500!". Hmmm, let's break it down.

* A consultation with someone who would probably give me a free consult anyway.
* A reprint of an article that I already saw on a free ezine
* A 200 page manual filled with lots of white space, large clip art and 24 point font.
* A buy one get one free deal for something I probably could live without.

I'm not being cynical and I understand that there are a lot of really great resources out there. But my hard drive is so full of free workbooks and downloads and special reports and surefire hits and .... the list goes on.

I start to feel a bit duped after a while. You know how it is when a friend is moving and you end up going home with boxes and boxes of their old junk? Or when someone takes a present that they didn't want, rewraps it and gives it to you? It's that same feeling of letdown.

When I see these "value adds" of free stuff I get all excited. Wow, they are saving me so much time and energy! Then I get them and I realize that there isn't a whole lot to it. And because I prefer reading things from paper and not on my computer screen, I print them out and then I feel bad for all the trees that suffered just for this information.

What does overdeliver really mean?

To me, it isn't about filling my cart with as much junk as I can just because it's free. It's about knowing that someone else cares about me and isn't trying to buy me off with a bunch of words on paper.

I have so many cheap nylon "backpacks" that I've gotten for subscribing to certain magazines. They think that's overdelivering but all I get is a ripped backpack at the worst possible moment.

Last year a bank royally screwed up some paperwork of mine and I complained. A few days later a big Harry and David fruit, cookies, tea goodie basket arrived on my doorstep. Every time I go into the bank the people are courteous and offer me a beverage, ask how my family is, remember nice things about me.

They don't need to do that but they do. Great customer service is a form of overdelivering.

My coach Barbara overdelivers to me. I have access to her 24/7, whether by email or phone. She flexes her policies to meet my needs. That keeps me coming back. She doesn't have to send me free stuff, she gives me what I need: knowing that I'm taken care of and not just a number.

To me, overdelivering is a frame of mind. It's about availability, caring, treating me like a human being. It's not sending me tons and tons of papers or free crud that I don't find particularly useful anyhow.

People are too time starved to sift through the pages and pages of special reports and free downloads. What they need is human connection, genuine caring and concern.

That's the overdelivering that I crave.

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