Minding Your Own Brand: If they come, have you built it?

Every time I watch television I see ads which depict the most wonderful places to shop. One particular ad depicts a home improvement superstore full of friendly, helpful, knowledgeable staff in every department. The ad goes on to explain how this staff is there to assist you in every facet of home improvement and repair. One day I needed a part for my kitchen faucet and a new cordless drill, so I set out for that store.

Upon arrival the only person who acknowledged my presence during my first ten minutes in the store was the “greeter” who was trying to get me to fill out a credit card application. The staff who were standing in the plumbing aisle shuffled me to the next person who “knows more about this department.” After talking to three associates and spending fifteen more minutes searching, I finally bumped into the fabled “plumbing expert’ who would know just what part I needed. Unfortunately he was new and the “other guy” who “knows all this stuff” was not here today. He pointed me to where I could look for the part on my own and “maybe be able to figure out what is needed.”

After wandering around the store for thirty minutes, I left empty handed and frustrated. I ended up buying my part and the drill at the small local hardware store.

Why is it that companies paint such a wonderful picture in their ads only to disappoint the customer when they come to shop? It is not only the big box stores who do this. I recently read an ad for a local home heating company claiming that they “provide superior personalized service.” This was the same company who gave me the runaround when I first tried to set up my fuel contract. They told me “the person who handles that is too busy” to take my call and to “call back tomorrow morning when they might have more time.” In that case, I went with one of the “big boys” and I have been very pleased with the service.

Either big or small, my point is that if you say it in your ad make sure you can and are delivering it 100% of the time or else you are setting your current and potential customers up for a big disappointment. A disappointed customer may or may not come back, but either way they will talk and tell everyone about their negative experience.

Wouldn’t it be better to exceed the expectations you set out in your advertising and have the resulting word of mouth advertising be positive? As the line in the movie Field of Dreams goes, “if you build it, they will come” – if it is extraordinary, they will tell their friends. After all, word of mouth advertising is the most effective form of promotion, especially if it expands the reach of your paid advertising.

Companies must remember that the first rule of setting expectations in your advertising is
– If they come, have you built it?


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