I'm not a marketing apologist.
For everything that marketing can be, it isn't. The truth as to why I am proud to consider myself a marketer is because of what the profession (and the industry) can be. Just this past week, I published both a blog post and a podcast conversation with Scott Stratten (aka UnMarketing on Twitter) - you can read the blog post here: Are You In The Business of Awesome? and listen to the podcast here: SPOS #318 - How To Be Business Awesome (And UnAwesome) With Scott Stratten. Scott's latest book, The Book Of Business Awesome - How Engaging Your Customers and Employees Can Make Your Business Thrive and The Book of Business UnAwesome - The Cost of Not Listening or Being Great At What You Do (yes, it's a two-books-in-one deal) takes brands out of the corporate skyline and down to the streets and into the hands of the people. He uses the book as a platform to demonstrate that a brand is now a whole lot more than a perceived image or how a collective feels about a particular product or service. I have always questioned (deeply) Stratten's approach to everything as a "market of one," meaning: just because a brand did something nice, it doesn't make them a good company, and just because they do something stupid, it doesn't mean that they will go bankrupt. In the end, these little Twitter spats never affect these corporations in a meaningful way. They come off as speed bumps on the highway to quarter-on-quarter profitability. On Twitter today, Jay Gilmore, said: "Listening to @mitchjoel's interview w/ @unmarketing and loved the notion that 'the people are the brand' well said."
If the people are the brand.
If the people are the brand, then it is incumbent on us - as a society - to rise above the quibbles and customer service issues that we're so eager and willing to tweet about and post to Facebook, and to start holding brands accountable with the only thing that truly seems to matter: our money. If I had a dollar for ever time that I said, "Seth Godin is right," I would be a rich man. Before reading any further, please stop and read Godin's blog post today titled, Corporation Are Not People. I'll wait for you...
How do you feel?
Angered? Enraged? Apathetic? Despondent? I'd like to focus on one paragraph, in specific, from Godin's post: "Corporations (even though it's possible that individuals working there might mean well) play a different game all too often. They bet on short memories and the healing power of marketing dollars, commercials and discounts. Employees are pushed to focus on bureaucratic policies and quarterly numbers, not a realization that individuals, not corporations, are responsible for what they do."
It's almost poetic, isn't it?
Do you disagree with Seth (and if you do, you're also disagreeing with me)? If the people are the brand (as Scott and Jay have said above), where does everything fall down? You can blame it on how we hide behind our policies and/or the corporation. You can blame it on the few bad apples that have spoiled the basket for the rest of us. You can even blame it on corporate greed. Seth has it right, doesn't he?
"It's not my problem... I just work here."
"Just following orders" is never a good excuse when a brand (or anyone else) is doing the wrong thing. The problem with all of this is that brands can be apologetic, move on and it has no bearing on their financial outcome. Here's the dirty little secret: it doesn't have to be that way. You see, if people are the brand, then people can stand up and change the brand. Just tweeting about it, blogging about it or sharing a story on Facebook isn't going to do anything about it (unless you count an apology and one customer getting some kind of resolution as the solution). In today's world, we are all consumer advocates. Now, we have the power to do something. To chose who we do business with and to provide - to everyone else - the ammunition and power for change. It's true a customer service spat that gets resolved on Twitter is good for the brand and it's good for the consumer. It's also true that the plethora of these are turning into noise that many/most are beginning to ignore. The power of social media is in how we can all get ideas to spread.
People are the brand is an idea that I would like to see spread. You?