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How a Resort Cleaning Woman Schooled Me On Marketing

A real life metaphor on how to connect emotionally in your marketing

A humbling experience that taught me to practice what I preach.

Once in a while, I find myself daydreaming about an amazing vacation I took with my boyfriend last year. I can almost put myself back there, the warm sand beneath my feet, the aroma of coconut sunscreen wafting by...and then, as I remember the day on that vacation when I, Jennifer Kahtz, MARKETING PROFESSIONAL, got schooled by the resort cleaning woman, I get jerked back to reality. That cleaning woman taught me a valuable lesson that I’d like to share with you.

If you’ve ever been to an all inclusive beach resort, you know your days are filled with eating, drinking, and lazing. And repeat. All week. It feels delightfully decadent, until one day, you realize that you probably should make some attempt to redeem yourself. It’s that funny thing we do to make amends for our sloth-like behavior. In my case, that nod to atonement came in the declaration to my boyfriend, “We should work out.”

My boyfriend agreed, so we set off to find the hotel gym. I walked ahead of him, feeling pumped, ready to leave my laziness behind for an hour to work and sweat. As I entered the lobby, I spotted a woman cleaning there. I marched straight up to her and asked, “Where is the gym?”

She looked at me blankly and replied, “Yo no hablo inglés.” I walked on, determined to find it myself, when I heard my boyfriend approach her.

I could hear him, in his mostly forgotten high school Spanish, trying to ask her the same question I had just asked.

“Hola! ¿Cómo estás? Perdón, ¿dónde está…”

Reaching the end of his Spanish vocabulary, he blurted out “Gym. ¿dónde está the gym??”

Annoyed that we were wasting precious workout time, I told him, “David, I already asked her. She doesn’t speak English.”

The cleaning woman turned her attention back to my boyfriend, and ever so sweetly said in a thick accent, “Gym? Come! I show you the gym!”

After she delivered us to our destination, I teased him that his charm and good looks got results where my simple question had failed. “You sweet talker, you!”

That’s when he pointed out that I missed the point entirely. “She would have shown you, too, if your approach was better.”

“My approach?” I asked, incredulously. “I asked a simple question. What’s wrong with that?”

“You didn’t say hello and you didn’t try to engage her in her own language. You didn’t make any connection at all. You of all people know you don’t get anywhere with people unless you make a human, emotional connection. What you needed was EMOTIONAL PULL.”

And there it was. Yes, I did know this, I just hadn’t made the effort. Caught up in what I wanted, I didn’t take the time to connect, and I was left standing there. Being schooled. And thankful for the reminder that this experience provided.

When connecting with people, in any circumstance, whether it’s personal, business, or in marketing, human connection is the thing that opens the door to communication.

When marketing your business, don’t have the first communication from you be:




These “asks” are fine, just not right out of the gate. Communicate with your audience first by relating on a human level. Tell your story, what made you fall in love with your business. Give some free tips, advice, or information that will be valuable to your customer. Be of service before you ask for the sale.

Take my advice. When marketing your business, make the effort to connect in a genuine way with your customers. Get to know them and what they want. Meet them where they are. You’ll be able to use what you’ve learned to create authentic messaging that emotionally pulls them to you, opening the door to long lasting relationships.

And one more thing. When you see the hotel cleaner in the lobby the next time you’re on vacation, smile and say a warm, “Hola!” from me.

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