One day, I noticed that I had some tiny cans of apple Juice in the pantry that I’d forgotten about. My kids aren’t much into juice, but I pulled them out, thinking they might be good bribery material. Sure enough, in no time, an occasion just right for bribery presented itself, and the Twinlet Twinkies were aptly rewarded for doing my bidding with a little can of apple juice. I opened the cans, handed them out and went back to whatever earth-shatteringly important thing that I was doing.
I later found the empty apple juice cans (probably in the middle of the floor somewhere) and was immediately struck by the fact that they had, imitating their dad, also turned their pull tabs – in exactly the same way he does.
What does all this have to do with anything?
In much the same way that kids are watching their parents, consumers are watching brands. And in today’s world, consumers are empowered. Brands who are not what they say they are, instantly run the risk of being found out. Manufacturers who make faulty products will be, without question, called out, publicly – and quickly. Consumers are no longer content to buy crappy products and live with the injustice if they happen to have fallen for a lemon. The old saying “caveat emptor” is actually turning around and, in my opinion, given today’s world of new media, the power is surging into the hands of the consumer. Nowadays, instead of the buyer needing to beware, brands need to beware. If they do bad things, make crummy products, misrepresent themselves, behave unethically, treat customers poorly, etc., the ability to be a bad guy and the ability to hide are both things of the past.
In today’s world, transparency is a word to remember – and a concept to take to heart. If you make a product or provide a service, know that just as my children watched their father turn the pull tab on his soda to the right, your customers and prospective customers are watching every move you make. And, if you misrepresent yourself in any way, promise something you don’t deliver or provide bad customer service or a faulty product, it will, without question, come back to haunt you. And is that really such a bad thing? Aren’t consumers entitled to good value for the money they spend on products and services?
The lesson here is to listen and pay attention. Always. If you aren’t already monitoring what’s being said about you in the social media sphere, you’re taking a big risk. People are talking about your brand, whether you realize it or not. There are great monitoring tools out there – so, whether you opt for Google Analytics, Spiral16, Radian6 or a myriad of other “listening tools,” do yourself a favor and make the transparency of today’s new world of marketing today work for you. Conduct yourself ethically, pay attention to what people are doing, pay attention to what people are saying, and always be ready to provide unparalleled customer service. After all, isn’t that what makes good brands great?