The Lesson of the Purple Bags

Donovan Baldwin

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For several years, I was a purchasing agent for an office of the federal government. Yep, it was me spent your tax dollars, and not always wisely, but that's another article.

Vendors, and those who wanted to be, often sent us samples of their products in the hopes of convincing us that their products were really what the U. S. government couldn't live without.

One day, a package arrived from a company which purported to specialize in the handling of hazardous waste. The specific samples they sent us were plastic bags designed for the disposal of various hazardous and toxic wastes. These bags were in different bright colors in order to make it obvious that they were different from standard garbage bags, and the colors were keyed to the level of hazard and types of materials that the bags were intended for. The bags were also imprinted with large, easily readable lettering which said what the type of hazardous material the bag was intended to hold.

Now, getting a government contract, or at least the attention of a purchasing agent could be pretty lucrative for a vendor. We're talking about a chance to get regular orders from the federal government, in large quantities. So, you want to do everything possible to put your best foot forward, right?

The package was neat, the accompanying literature was well put together, and the bags were impressive. They probably spent a lot of money sending packages like this to several purchasing offices in hopes of getting some orders.

As luck would have it, we didn't need to dispose of any hazardous waste at that moment, at least none that we could use the bags for. However, one of the purchasing agents was in the middle of a project, so he figured he would use one of the bags for his excess trash.

You know how you take a garbage bag and fluff it out so it fills with air before you put it in the can? Jim, one of the agents, did that and the bag (intended to hold hazardous waste) split in two. I don't remember what sort of waste it was intended to hold, but I DO remember it was something very dangerous, and the bag was a vibrant purple. Jim grabbed another, and it did the same thing. We all started grabbing bags, and over half of the samples split before we could even think of putting anything in them!

Can you imagine us EVER buying ANYTHING from these yahoos?

It wasn't bad enough that they were attempting to sell an inferior product, but they had the pure lack of common sense to send us samples of their inferior product in hopes of inducing us to buy from them! Now, does that make sense?

Yet, several times a month, sometimes several times a week, I encounter someone who “wants to get rich on the internet" trying to sell a product or service that is evidently inferior in quality.

Oh sure, we sometimes don't NEED to buy top of the line items, and can save a few cents that way, but attempting to sell that way is going to limit us to the customers who buy that way. Most, however, want quality.

Always offer your customers quality. It will pay off for you in the long run.

Don't be in a hurry to shove your product in front of your customers. Taking a few minutes to verify that everything is in order and that you are making an offer that you can be proud of will repay you.

Your product, literature, or web page will tell your customer a lot about the sort of service and quality of goods that they can expect to get from you. Always make it your best shot.

I'm not talking about the most expensive, either. One of the most effective marketers I ever knew was an office supply salesman in Austin, Texas. He had no fancy cards, no great sales pitch, no copious pile of literature. He just provided great service and refused to sell anything to us that didn't meet HIS standards first. He was even willing to help us find goods and services outside of his normal field. Even though he was an employee of the company, he took a proprietary interest in insuring that every piece of equipment and every supply item, from the most sophisticated and expensive office machines, down to the lowliest pencil or paper clip, was exactly what we needed and that it performed exactly as advertised.

Guess who got a lot more of our business than the company with the purple bags?

The author is retired from the Army after 21 years of service. He has worked as an accountant, purchasing agent, optical lab manager, restaurant manager, instructor and long-haul, over-the-road truck driver. He has been a member of Mensa for several years, and has written and published poetry, essays, and articles on various subjects for the last 40 years. He has been an active internet marketer since 2000, and now makes his living online. Learn about a way to improve your internet marketing results. The author has a blog on several business topics, and a website with several articles on network marketing and related subjects.


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