Apple is not “Apple” anymore.
Let that sink in for a second.
One of the most successful brands in the world (allegedly) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. They report earnings that stretch from here to Saturn and back – with stops at Starbucks, bathroom breaks and day trips to the galaxy’s biggest ball of yarn – yet they fall short of expectations.
You are not Apple
It’s my reply to a ton of would-be FAQs. You dream of ‘failing’ so well. No brand is infallible, above reproach or the slings and arrows of a tough economy or negative customer feedback. And yet, some businesses seem to be.
Netflix. Before they flip flopped on Quikster, they got a lot of crap by alienating customers and investors with confusing strategy and bad PR. Yes they lost subscribers, but 1) it wasn’t as mass an exodus as the hype made it seem and 2) they stood to make more money in the long run.
Dry Cleaners. Liquor Stores. Restaurants. One of my local cleaners is crap, but they have the location so it doesn’t matter. One of my favorite wine stores is on a busy corner, doing fine without even a website to pimp their libations.
- Friend: “Grr…this place always messes up my order, takes too long, whah whine gripe.”
- You: “Then why do you keep coming here?”
- Friend: “It’s close/convenient/cheap.”
Uverse. See also, almost any utility that provides phone or cable or power. The service they provide might be nice, but when they don’t work, their so-called support is an insult to customer disservice abominations.
What does it take to be marketing proof?
- You’re made of Teflon. No amount of bad press, angry tweets or ranty Facebook posts seem to stick. Angry customers don’t scare you, even if they talk more.
- What down economy? You and your ‘too big to fail’ banker are laughing together, as you’re raking in the cash no matter what.
- Is that a problem? No ‘PR crisis‘ – real or imagined – lasts in stakeholders memories more than a nanosecond.
- You’re the only game in town. You’re where customer service goes to die, be reanimated via some hoo doo rituals, tortured then killed again. But there are no alternatives, no Pepsi to your Coke.
- You’re oxygen. You sell toilet paper, food, gas, utilities – the stuff everyone HAS to have; customers are a given.
- You’ve cornered location. “No one beyond a 30-mile radius probably knows [you] exist, and [you're] happy that way,” says Shakirah Dawud on web-proof SMBs who can ignore Yelp and Google.
- You’re the BIG BOX BRAND. Everyone will assume bigger is better, even if it’s not. You might lose one customer with your terrible customer service – and they may tell all their friends – but there’s plenty more where they came from.
No matter what you do or don’t, what’s said or not, your phone is always ringing, your website always clicking, a line of paying customers waiting outside your door. Is this your business? I probably doubt it.
Thoughts on a marketing-proof business, real or mythical?