A 5-Star Reputation Makes Your Phone Ring

Is reputation really everything? 

Why are we seeing large corporations risk theirs to create buzz about themselves? Let’s learn from recent marketing mistakes in the news:

1. Don’t change the name of a company that’s been around for decades *and has a cult following that effectively gave the company its current name* (International House of Pancakes became IHOP after customers created the nickname and it took hold across the country).
2. When you realize the name change was a big mistake, don’t try to save face with a “gotcha” at the expense of your customers. Nobody wants to be “got” (IHOP told the world it was now IHOB, which received a loudly negative response. They then ran a “we gotcha” campaign, claiming the name change wasn’t real but rather a campaign to market their burgers).
3. Expect violence when you invite a bunch of people to queue up for hours to participate in your deep discount promotion (Build-a-Bear ‘Pay Your Age Day’, Walmart holiday loss leader sales, etc.).
The customers you want to spend your money courting don’t like being made the fool or enduring aggression and violence to win their prize.  They might tolerate it, but only if your offer is that amazing.
And that’s why it’s a risky proposition to market in this way.  You can’t trade your brand reputation for buzz unless what you sell is so amazing consumers will ignore the negatives to get what they want.  Even then, your short-term success is at the expense of something you can’t buy: a brand consumers trust.

Whether you’re old-school or new, reputation means a lot to your customers.