You can’t create an alternate universe with your marketing

Maybe you’ve seen ads like this one for American Airlines, reported at the Customer Experience Matters Blog: I Am The Customer Experience … Not!

Customerexperience

It’s one of those wacked-out forms of corporate schizophrenia, where they can’t tell the difference between themselves and their customers. And it’s more likely to do harm than good:

Marketing efforts, internal or eternal, are most successful if they ring true to their target audience. If American Airlines was actually working with its employees to engage them in a corporate-wide effort to improve customer experience, then a sign like this might be effective. But if it’s an isolated campaign to convince people that American Airlines is more customer-centric than it is, then it’s a truly bad idea. Employees and customers just see another empty promotional campaign.

This is the problem with the branding discipline: Too often, it’s a vain attempt to claim you’re something you intend to be, but you just aren’t.

Every time an American Airlines customer experiences poor service, these banners just underscore for them the gap between fantasy and reality. The company that actually has great customer experience just goes about its work without banners pointlessly claiming that their service is good.

Nonprofit brands often make the same mistake, trying to change reality by claiming it’s the way they want it to be.

Your aspirations are not your brand. Your brand is what really happens in the real world. You can’t fake it with high-flown claims and empty slogans.

If you want to change from what you are to what you want to be, change the reality first. Then match it with your marketing.


Comments

4 responses to “You can’t create an alternate universe with your marketing”

  1. It reminds me of the nonprofit that actually tells you that they’re being “donor-centric” in their copy. Not.

  2. It reminds me of the nonprofit that actually tells you that they’re being “donor-centric” in their copy. Not.

  3. If you have to say it’s so, that’s a sure sign that it isn’t. Like companies who say they “empower” their employees.

  4. If you have to say it’s so, that’s a sure sign that it isn’t. Like companies who say they “empower” their employees.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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