Archive for the ‘Tactics’ Category
On Facebook this week, a post caught my eye. I’m going to paraphrase here to protect the innocent. The poster said, “Whatever happened to humility? Is it necessary to tell the whole world about your charitable contributions by putting it on a billboard? Are people really that narcissistic?”
This was a reaction to a billboard in Champaign, Illinois. It was apparently put up for a Realtor who wanted to alert home buyers that she supports a local charity with a percentage of each sale.
From the conversation that ensued on Facebook, this clearly offended more than one person in Champaign.
I’m quite certain that the marketing minds behind that billboard were looking at the situation from another angle entirely. My guess is that they thought that people would want to choose a Realtor who supports the community, and that heck, if you’re going to buy a house and pay a commission anyway, why not choose a real estate agent who is going to take some of your hard earned cash and use it to help the needy?
The approach obviously backfired.
Supporting charities with profits is really an excellent way to get some positive press, capture clients, and do some good in your community. In fact, one business I consult for donates 10% of each new sale to the charity of the customer’s choice. They provide a list of 5 charities to each new customer and ask them to choose+. Then, when the customer pays the bill, 10% of the labor paid goes directly to that charity. The company makes a copy of the check to the charity and sends it to the customer in a thank you card. This practice is working for him: The business owner has gotten great feedback, repeat business, referrals, and other good “buzz.”
The billboard is a bit different. First, it’s a pretty public (not to mention impersonal) statement of your company’s policy. That certainly can smell of narcissism to a portion of the audience. (Whether it is the intended audience or not is a different story.) Also, the way this was phrased on the billboard somehow managed to disconnect the homebuyer from the charity.
A marketing tactic that involves charitable contributions can only work if the buyer feels invested in the action of giving. In this case, there is a major fail here — many that saw the billboard didn’t immediately equate doing business with the Realtor with helping a worthy cause. Instead, it came off as a gimmick, a cheap ploy.
Another lesson: Don’t doubt the power of social media, especially when it comes to negative press. You never know who is Facebook friends with whom; nor should you underestimate the reach that annoyed tweeters might have. Retweeting bad impressions about your business is easy; picking up the pieces of your reputation, not so much.
And yet another lesson to be learned is that of testing. A lot of entrepreneurial marketing consists of, “Hey, that sounds like a good idea — let’s try it!”
Yikes. Don’t do that.
This Realtor could have saved herself some embarrassment by planning, investigating, and testing her idea before putting it up for 100,000 people to observe. One Champaign resident saw the billboard and put it this way: “So you give to charity. Good for you. Do you want a cookie?”
You can avoid ever having anyone react to your marketing efforts that way. Research. Plan. Test. Hire someone to do those things for you if you don’t have time. It pays to avoid looking like a narcissist.