Eric Karjaluoto

Do the Thing

Original image: The Library of Congress; Waiting for a job.

Sometimes my car speaks to me. I don’t like these conversations. You see, my hypochondria extends to mechanical things. So, when I hear a new ping, snap, or crack, I figure the thing is about to explode.

After swapping the brakes on our minivan, it starts speaking to me in clunks. I pull into our parking spot—CLUNK. I back up to straighten the car—CLUNK. I pull forward again—CLUNK. 😖

We bring the car back to the shop, and ask them to check into the sound. They investigate, and explain that a loose part is responsible. In the parking lot, I find the van—with all the doors unlocked. (Not good.) As I drive away, I realize they didn’t shut the hood. (Also not good.) And when I put it into reverse? CLUNK. (Oh, for fuck’s sake.)

In my work, I help companies present themselves. I also suggest how they might interact with customers. Often, people in these companies ask about ways to attract new business. They want to add live chat to their websites. They contemplate writing blog articles. Some wonder if they should produce a funny video—that could go viral.

Conversely, in my daily life, I witness companies making obvious blunders—like not doing what they were hired to do. Quite often these companies do have a live chat widget. They also write blog posts and create amusing videos. In all this effort to attract new customers, though, they sometimes forget to do what their customers most need.

Business can be simple: Do the thing you were asked to do.

Although some purchases are fun, many aren’t. A new trash disposal isn’t fun—but you pay for it. Life insurance isn’t fun—but you pay for it. Parking isn’t fun—but you pay for it. While this notion might sound simplistic, I urge you to remain mindful of it.

Your customers might not want your services so much as they need them. If you fail to deliver on what they need, all the marketing in the world won’t save your company. I go to the brake shop for new brakes—not free coffee. I go to the mobile repair shop for a screen that works—not a living wall. I go to the Thai restaurant for a good curry—not a punch card.

Free coffee, living walls, and punch cards are fine add-ons. So are complimentary iPads, special offers via email, and your nifty mobile app. But, that stuff is all bonus material. If you can’t do the one thing you were hired to do, none of the other stuff matters.

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