Gerard Hastings and Ray Lowry

Down at the King's Head

Bethany was getting irritated. She kept glancing at the door of the King's Head and furtively checking her watch. She explained, a little sharply, that her husband Steve was supposed to have joined her at 6 pm. It was now 6:25. A full half an hour later, I was standing near the door when Steve appeared. By this time it was nearly 7 pm and he looked hunted. He knew that he was in trouble and was preparing to face Bethany's wrath. But before he could cross the room to join her, the landlady, Helen, intervened. Despite his obvious hurry she insisted he came over to the bar first. She then said just one sentence to him: "Remember, Bethany has had her hair done".

Steve's face relaxed and his eyes smiled in gratitude: Helen had provided his get out of jail free card. He floated across to Bethany and swept aside her irritation with an unanswerable "darling, your hair looks lovely".

Helen is a consummate marketer. She had worked out what her customer needed and provided it just in time. As a publican one might assume that she sells beer; in reality, on this occasion, she was selling marital harmony - but rest assured the beer sales will follow. Her sensitivity and customer focus will result in deep loyalty from Steve (with Bethany also acquiring pleasant associations with the King's Head); as a result he won't just buy her beer tonight but for weeks and probably years to come.

Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland, UK e-mail: [email protected]

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