Apples and Advertising Don’t Fall Far From the Tree
Welcome to the world of reputation management where apples and your advertising have a very close relationship to where they come from.
Traditionally, advertising is explained as being a legitimate way for businesses to share knowledge and information with customers. At its worst, advertising is said to be the tax you pay for being unremarkable in business.
The danger of a faulty first impression.
Today, who Google says you are, is probably the first striking impression many prospects and customers hold of you and your brand. The next impression comes from their initial human contact with your team.
Usually, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
The danger of misleading or deceptive conduct.
We know it’s illegal for a business to engage in deceptive or misleading conduct (or conduct likely to mislead) or deceive consumers or other businesses. It doesn’t matter whether or not a false or misleading statement was intentional. If a reasonable person would be reasonably mislead, as the business owner, you’re liable.
When others set the first impression of your business.
In the same way success in business leaves footprints, dishonesty leaves fingerprints – on everything it touches. How a business starts the conversation with you is usually a good example of the type of behaviour to follow.
This creates problems for businesses who purchase lead generation services from an external supplier or who engage third parties to initially represent their brand.
Guard your reputation. It’s the most valuable asset you have.
The risk of using a third party to represent your brand.
At the end of the financial year, my brand receives a veritable conga line of B2B advertising promising the world, and often, unintentionally, exposing traits of the people and the business behind its initial approach marketing.
An example of how apples and your advertising don’t fall far from the tree.
Let’s look at the latest sales phone call to me at 4:56 p.m on a Friday afternoon.
The caller followed a script that reads something like this.
Caller: “Hello, my name is John from Get Financial Services Leads.” (not their real names)
“We’re in your industry.” “We currently have an excess supply in postcodes 0001 and 0002.”
“I want to ask you three simple questions.”
- “Q1. Are you working in postcode 0001 and 0002?”
- “Q2. Are you independent and honest?”
- “Q3. Is your business in growth phase?”
While I deliberately paused and reprimanded myself for answering a private number on my mobile just as I was about to walk out the door, I began searching for a more polite way to say ‘no thank you’.
Already annoyed at myself, I decided to ask two questions to better understand who was calling and why they are calling me?
Me: “Where did you get my personal information from, to call me today?”
Caller: “From your financial licence provider.”
Me: “So you would already know Financial Advisers can’t legally call themselves independent when their licence provider is institutionally owned, don’t you?”
Caller: “Oh, yes (splutter) we just want to make sure you’re not working for the banks!”
Me: “So, you already know the answer to the question you asked me?”
Me: (grumble) “Thank you for the call, I understand what you’re doing. I’m not the person you want to do business with.”
Caller: (Caught off-guard and now feigning disbelief) “Oh well (voice raised with pho-indignation, akin to my making derogatory remarks about his mother). Well, your answer then is No. No, your business is not in the growth phase. Goodbye then.”
What just happened?
The caller was selling his ability to contact people, successfully engage them and then on-sell their initial interest to businesses such as my own to follow up with.
The caller sought to manipulate me through;
- attempting to leverage through fear of missing out
- creating a sense of urgency, so people don’t process or scrutinise information very well
- attempting to engage an impulse consumption
- focusing on fear to override any other purchasing behaviour.
There was a clear appeal;
- to my greed – I’m missing out, and competitors are working in my area, and they already have ‘excess capacity’, and I don’t.
- to my status – ‘Are you independent and not working for the banks?’ and
- an appeal to my ego – ‘Is your business in growth phase?’
What really happened?
This is what I remember happening.
1. I felt immediately disrespected by my supplier, who willingly gave up my precious private details to this business to call me.
Did my supplier think so little of me? Do they think I’m sufficiently gullible or just not important to risk giving my details to a marketer who they (hopefully) did not know the ethical stance off? I’m not certain, perhaps it reflects who they really are and I just didn’t know it, but now I suspect it.
2. I felt insulted by the caller, expecting I would fall for a deceitful approach and feigned arrogance.
If this is the way they approach a business owner, will they approach a prospective client the same way? How would that reflect upon a brand who purchases the results of a deceitful approach?
Ultimately both supplier and caller become tarred by the same brush of uncertainty.
Whether this slight is real or imagined, a first impression has taken hold, and I don’t have the time (or see the reason) to give a second chance to dispell that first impression.
Why should I? I’m the customer, after all.
The relationship with apples and your advertising.
Good customer service is not a competitive edge. It’s simply the ticket to the game.
Good customer service is the protective polish on an already engaged prospect and customer journey that seeks to honour the customer and preserve a commercial relationship.
It’s not designed to be the band-aid on unmet expectations, the splint on broken promises or the tourniquet on the haemorrhaging of goodwill triggered by deceit.
If you do not know the ethical stance and behaviour of who’s initially representing your brand, remember that perception appears closer to reality because ‘apples and your advertising don’t fall far from the tree’.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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