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What can you break but not touch?
What gets broken without being held?
The answer – a promise.
As I am sure you know, marketing wizards advise business owners to avoid breaking a brand promise at all costs. A brand promise is like a vow or a pledge from a company to its consumers. For example, if you shop at Walmart, you are promised that you will save money which will make you feel smart, spend more time with your family, and live better.
If you eat at Applebee’s, you are promised a family-friendly atmosphere, food of exceptional value, and a neighborhood feel.
When you drink a Coke, you will be refreshed and have fun.
A brand promise is a marketing term that is supposed to be fancy-schmancy. It sounds intelligent and looks good as a header on an annual report. But what it really is – is a description of how the customer feels when they buy or use your product. A brand promise is meant only for the external consumer.
When a brand promise is broken, it absolves all the work that the company has already done to deliver its product to the market in a memorable way. The chance the company has to leave a lasting impact is gone! Poof!
When you buy awards from Crystal D we promise that you will say “WOW!” Sometimes when we tell customers that we are The Home of “The WOW Effect”®, they don’t buy in right away. Then we usher them into our showroom and wait for it…within minutes their mouths drop and they utter “WOW!” They say “You are right! I get it!”
It happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
When my day blows up into a constant stream of energy-sucking meetings, frustrating fires to squelch, early mornings, and late nights I take a walk through our production area. Some people may go to the library or a museum to relax. All I have to do is walk through our production area. I see the awards, I see the designs, I pick them up and read the inscriptions. Then I imagine what the recipient might feel when they see their award for the first time. I close my eyes and I breathe in the feeling of that moment. THAT grounds me, and I take in the aroma of “The WOW Effect”TM, I feel it, and I know it is real.
Promises. Promises. Fancy-schmancy, or not, a promise is a promise. And I did not take that lightly.
By contrast, a core purpose, values, and the Hedgehog Concept are meant for the employees and owner. The focus of our work with Smartie-Pants up until this point in time had nothing to do with the consumer and everything to do with the Crystal D troupe.
I’d been in business for more than 10 years and never thought of making a promise to my employees or myself. I had focused only on the customer.
I wondered what that would mean for my company to focus inwardly toward ourselves. More deeply, what it would mean for me personally? Would I have to sacrifice profits because my employees came first? Would our level of customer service suffer because we’d become overly concerned with pleasing our internal coworkers? I speculated.