Every company wants to be Zappos these days, because "Delivering WOW Through Service" sells product. Service matters these days, because more and more companies are realizing that people who get great service talk about the company that provided the great service. Also influencers matter--those people who talk a lot, and talk to people likely to buy similar products or whatever...don't get me started on the stupid part of the concept of influencers--but the reality is that everyone is an influencer of someone in some way.
Whatever...my point is this: people talk--in real life and online. And you know who talks a lot? Association people. We talk to each other online on Twitter and Facebook and blogs and secret online groups you wish you knew about ;) We will be talking a lot when we come together next week at ASAE's Technology Conference & Expo. We'll be chatting, tweeting, and partying together. (BTW thanks Daxko for sponsoring the awesome YAP party!).
Even in regular everyday life, we association people talk to each other. Heck, some of us are even married to each other. I'm married to another association COO--Patrick McGary; Jeff and Meeghan De Cagna are another association couple--there are plenty more. So even when association vendors aren't directly marketing to us, we hear about them--the good and the bad--from our colleagues, our friends, and even our spouses. If they're having problems with a product or service, we hear about it. Especially if we happen to be married to a person having problems with a service...then we tend to hear about them a LOT.
So my question to association vendors is this: if you know your customers are talking to potential future customers every day, what are they saying about you and the service you provide after the sell? Everyone says customer satisfaction is a priority--but are you actually providing it? Sure, you can talk the talk at your booth or in Associations Now or during a demo--but are you walking the walk? Are your customers talking about how your talk is totally different than your walk? Are you delivering wow through service?
If not, you might want to reconsider directing some of that marketing spend into beefing up your customer support team, or doing something nice for your staff. Because when people have problems with your product or service, they talk about it--and their negative talk is a lot more powerful than your positive sales spin.