We had a client call last week telling us that she had received a letter from someone stating how much they were put off by an ad we were running. She was wondering if we should hold off running that ad and instead run another one we had produced. My response was “Heck no. I’m thrilled that someone felt that way. I hope we get a few more letters.” Why would I say that, right?
You see, your company, like 99.9% (there’s always that oddball out there) wants to be loved. You want adoring customers, enthusiastic vendors, committed partners, etc. Yet in reality, few companies are really appreciated. In fact, most companies and marketing messages are tolerated at best, and at worst, ignored. And do you know why? It’s because most company messaging is too forgettable and too dull to spark any type of reaction.
If you want your company to have passionate customers, dedicated partners, etc., you must first inspire strong responses. Only then can you convince people to love your company and become raving fans of your brand. But here’s the kicker: as you attract fans, you’re also bound to get the critics, or “Haters.” As we learned in physics: Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction. These Haters are the ones that write nasty letters or post negative comments on sites like Yelp or Angie’s list. That said, here’s something which might also cause you to recoil a bit. Experience has taught me that it’s OK to have some not like your brand (not a lot, of course). Yup, you heard me right. In fact, having a few critics is essential. The undeniable reality is that if you’re not eliciting a negative response from someone somewhere, then you’re probably not that fascinating to anyone. No one remembers lukewarm!
Fresh, imaginative, and original ideas come across as unfamiliar, even uncomfortable, which means that not everyone will like it. But unfortunately, most companies spend too much time worrying over damage control for the Haters that they never get up the nerve to be exceptional in the first place. In short, Haters are the price one pays for being special. Apple has Haters. Starbucks has Haters. Accept their presence but do not let them stop you from moving forward.
On the other hand you have the advocates, evangelists, loyalist…the Lovers. They don’t just buy your product or service, they also accept price increases and forgive occasional “issues.” When your product is sold out in one store, they’ll drive to another store to find it. When the competition tries to appeal to them with an incentive, they stay loyal. Lovers also do your marketing work for you — for free. They write nice things in online reviews, and even occasionally re-post your content online. In every aspect of your company, Lovers will reward you with new business and higher sales. They’re not just buying your products for price or utility.
So you now have the Lovers on the left and the Haters on the right and between them you have a set of customers who give you little loyalty or value. Let’s call this group the “Lukewarmers”. Maybe a good way of describing this group is like that friend of yours that would come over to watch a game but as soon as the beer ran out…so would he. Kind of like a friend…but not really. In the same way, these indifferent customers make a purchase here and there but don’t add much of anything else.
The Lukewarmers also have a really bad habit of not caring. They won’t buy your product unless it’s the cheapest or most convenient option which means they’re only buying you until a cheaper or more convenient alternative comes around. So in addition to not being loyal, they’re also expensive to maintain because you’re spending money to get them as customers and they never really pay out over multiple purchases.
In today’s marketplace, this middle ground is death!! Not caring is not buying. Not caring is inaction. The Lukewarmers leave for just the smallest of reasons. So how do you get people to quit being Lukewarmers and start actively choosing you and your brand?
Simply put, if your company wants to influence purchase decisions, you need to provoke strong and immediate emotional reactions so that people bond with your brand or company. The goal isn’t to create, or even stay away from controversy, but to avoid creating legions of people who simply don’t care.
The world is not changed by people who sort of care or don’t care at all. Stop focusing on the Lukewarmer. And don’t let the Haters keep you from your goals. Start accumulating the Lovers. And it all starts by having your marketing and advertising being original and captivating. There’s no middle ground here.