An Authentic Brand

Murray Pratt Blog, Business Insights, Life

The Rolling Stones live in Las Vegas


My wife said that she wanted to go to Las Vegas to see the Rolling Stones. It was on her “bucket list”.

Not sure about you, but there is something so wrong about the Rolling Stones in Las Vegas. It’s like they stopped rolling… and are now sitting like some big lonely red rock protruding from the sand in the Nevada desert.

“Hi Ladies and Gentlemen… our first song is ‘Start Me Up’… and remember we have defibrillators at all the exits should you need one.”

And now ‘Sympathy for the Deviled Eggs’… and all sorts of other scrumptious food you will find at the 24-hour buffet at Harrah’s casino.

And now ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’… but if you talk to your Maitre D, and tip him big time – you might just find that you will get what you need… because it’s Vegas baby, and you can get satisfaction”

This year the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, a team in the National Hockey League, decided not to run a marketing campaign for their upcoming season. Instead they sent a letter to all of their fans apologizing for all the hype and missed promises of their previous marketing campaigns. And then they called it Coyotes 2.0, which sounds a lot like a marketing campaign to me – unless they are just icing a team of two players this year.

It is said that the most important attribute of a politician is his/her authenticity. And once you learn to fake that… you have it made!

I divide a business into two main groups. In our trucking software company we have one group that ‘makes the promises’ – Sales & Marketing, and another group that ‘delivers on the promises’ – Development & Support. There are some other support functions in the business – IT, HR and Accounting – and they try to stay clear when the first two groups start throwing dishes and forks and spoons at each other when the buffet is bad.

I believe that the best marketing a company can do is ‘deliver on its promise’. Give the customers what they want – the desired outcomes from their product or service. Otherwise you miss on it and your customer is like that little old lady from those Wendy’s commercial in the 1980s:

‘Where’s the Beef?’

Now that was an effective campaign. It  worked because Wendy’s had larger, more meaty hamburgers and could differentiate themselves versus their main competition.

Every day I have to think about the balance between our ‘promise making’ and our ‘promise keeping’ in the business.

There are two ways you can screw it up.

  • You can over-promise. This is the disease of salespeople primarily. This is the ‘happy ears’ syndrome. This is the stuff of ‘commission breath’ hoping that they can either convince the customer that the product when stretched will work for their particular situation, or trying to convince internal resources to bend it and adapt it a certain way for a customer.
  • You can also under-deliver. The marketing and sales group makes an appropriate promise and then the company doesn’t, or can’t deliver. I remember promising my biggest customer that we could deliver 1,200 cases of product for this big promotion. I promised that because I actually went to my managers and the product group to guarantee, that if I sold it, they would send it. They sent 188 cases the week before the big advertisements were being launched…

Being authentic means doing everything you can to deliver on the promises you make. Yes, you can ‘promise the moon’ to a customer, but you must also be able to deliver to the moon – as poor Elon Musk found out.

I feel bad when a customer is let down. They have a lot of choices and when they pick us, I know that they are hopeful that they will have gotten their problems solved. Though we try as hard as possible to help them all “Feel the WIND at their back“, I find it hard not to take it personally when we miss.

Equally, I find that what may have been promised was different than what was ‘heard’.  When you are ‘courting’ someone you tend to overlook that little bit of spinach caught up in his/her teeth at dinner. It was cute or funny the first time. But when it occurs at every meal over the next 20 years it loses its luster. Things change. In those instances it’s best for both parties to move on.

It’s like a time when you are eating dinner, and your wife looks up at you and says …

“I am thinking of going down to Vegas to see the Rolling Stones with a friend.”

And it’s in that very moment – the one when you are in suspended animation – and you think to yourself that for the first time in your life

‘You didn’t realize just how much she looked like mother of Canada’s Prime Minister…’

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