When was the last time you looked at a person or a company, whether it was in person, on Facebook or on television, and said to yourself, “What were they thinking?”
Was it within the last five minutes? Me too.
From a business perspective, there are simple things that brands do and don’t do that can lead to serious, self-inflicted damage. Sometimes that damage may seem minor on the surface, but the cumulative effect can be crippling.
Judging by the majority of social media posts I see, websites I visit and emails I’m unable to open on my mobile phone, a lot of brands just seem intent on knocking themselves senseless.
On the other hand, when the stars align and a brand does convince me to hand over money for their product, I constantly find myself saying, “I paid for that?”
Here are five ways that you can wreck your own brand. Some of these are easily correctable. Others will take some work. But all of them need to stop before the damage becomes permanent.
1) You ignore your customers.
This isn’t just about failing to respond to customer complaints, which brands need to do quickly, genuinely and tactfully. This is about listening to what customers have to say about your business.
More than any highly paid consultant, customers are a brand’s most valuable resource of knowledge and insight. Ask questions and listen to their answers. What your customers feel and how you think they feel are often two very different things.
Respond to every single comment on your blog and social pages with a thoughtful comment of your own. Thank them and learn from them.
Instead of paying lip service, dig deep to find out what your customers like most and least about your brand, and use that priceless feedback to build a better brand.
2) You constantly boast.
You can win the hearts and minds and loyalty of your audience by helping, educating, entertaining, solving problems and filling needs.
When you constantly talk about how wonderful you are, how wonderful your product is, and the wonderful awards you’ve won, the only heart and mind you win will be your own.
Just stop it. Thumping your chest like a giant ape to show off isn’t doing you any good. And it’s really, really annoying.
3) You don’t create and share valuable content.
You may have the most breathtaking website on the planet, magnetic content that could lure customers like blood (or a tornado) attracts sharks, and the right keywords in all the right places.
But if you’re not creating and sharing content that’s valuable and relevant to your audience, that website, like a billboard on a road less traveled, will just collect dust and get passed over by both real people and search engines.
Remember, the only truly algorithm-proof SEO strategy is creating and sharing content that people want, like, share and remember. Stop trying to beat the system and start creating great content.
Start a blog, or improve the content on your existing blog and update it regularly. Create a series of videos or podcasts. Do something to build trust and credibility and keep Google’s attention or your brand will eventually become invisible.
4) You’ve buried your head in the sand when it comes to mobile.
Suppose you pay attention to your customers’ concerns, focus on their needs, and create and share valuable content, but you’re unable to fully leverage these things because you don’t have a mobile-friendly website or blog.
This can’t be happening in 2013. According to research conducted in June 2013 by ShareThis, people are almost twice as likely to view and share content on mobile devices as they are on desktop computers.
Because you’re not using responsive design or you haven’t created a mobile website, you’re making it difficult for people to spread the word about your brand. If it’s difficult to do, they won’t do it.
5) You provide a less-than-exceptional customer experience.
A brand, by definition, is a promise to deliver a certain experience that creates a desired result.
People aren’t buying your product. They’re buying the experience – the feeling created by using your product. And that experience needs to be special.
When you market your brand effectively, you inevitably set high expectations. Failure to live up to those expectations is a brand killer. Nobody wants to do business with a poser who talks a good game but can’t follow through.
A broken promise is the knockout punch. When you do everything right to persuade someone to choose your brand over another but provide a so-so customer experience, that person will absolutely, positively, never ever do business with you again.
If you’re not offering something special, you may as well not offer anything. Period.
This list is far from complete. How do you see brands self-destructing?
Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net