Think back 20 years.
You had just checked into your hotel. You went up to your room and found a disgustingly large cockroach scrabbling around in your bathtub.
After you screamed or screeched or hopped up on the toilet tank, you called the front desk and they got rid of the giant bug.
But then when you got home you decided to write a note and complain to the hotel. So you dragged out your stationery, found a pen, scribbled your complaint, stuck it in an envelope, licked the flap, and rooted around for a stamp.
Three weeks later the letter was still sitting on your mantle until you finally remembered to take it with you and drop it in a mailbox.
Three weeks after that you got a letter back from the hotel that said something like this:
Ten years ago if you happened on a roach in your hotel tub you would have waited until you got home, fired up the computer, and zipped off an email explaining your disappointment. And you would probably get an email back within a few days that said pretty much the same thing that the letter did.
Now picture what would happen today:
You walk into the bathroom and find the same damn roach partying in the tub. What’s the first thing you do — scream? No, you take a picture of the bug with your smartphone. And you don’t even have to reach for your phone because you were either texting or playing Words With Friends as you walked into the bathroom in the first place.
Then you add a note — “OMG!! WTF??!! There’s a ROACH in my room at the XYZ Hotel” — and hit SEND. Your comments, and the roach, are instantly uploaded to your 7,000 Twitter followers and 3,300 hundred LinkedIn associates, and to 587 of your closest friends on Facebook. And even assuming that only 10% of your contacts are online at the moment, that means that more than 1,000 people know about the roach within minutes.
Worse, many of them forward your note to their collection of contacts. A bunch of people “like” your post and one or two sickos probably even post the picture on their Pinterest cockroach enthusiasts’ board with a comment such as, “Check out this beautiful German cockroach specimen my friend spotted at the XYZ Hotel.”
So less than 10 minutes after you spied the roach, thousands and thousands of people know about it and the XYZ Hotel. And if the hotel’s marketing staff isn’t monitoring their name on the Web, they are completely unaware that this sort of news is hopscotching around the globe.
Do you still believe you control your brand?
Sure you can create clear, concise, cogent, and comprehensive communications. But if your brand isn’t powerful enough to withstand these kinds of assaults, you’d better start thinking about how you’re going to reinforce it.
To modify the old saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” understand that if your brand doesn’t stand for something, your customers will fall for anything. Today the power of smartphones and the Internet, combined with the newly democratized control of information, means every single person your brand interfaces with has the potential to reinforce — or redefine — your messaging.
Managed properly, this new situation can be both powerful and profitable. Managed poorly, it’s a lot scarier than that disgusting bug crawling in your bathtub.
So what should you do? A proper brand audit is the first step. After all, if you don’t know what you’ve got, then how can you figure out what you’re capable of? After that, crafting your core messaging and strengthening any weaknesses are crucial. So is assembling your brand standards, building your distribution strategy, and creating your crises plan. And then, implementing your plan in a systematic, measurable way. And finally, evaluating both your actions and their effect.
It’s simple, but not easy. If you want help, call us and we’ll show you how.