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Brands & Consumers

Is Your Brand Earning Business Or Expecting It?

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Is Your Brand Earning Business Or Expecting It?

I read another LinkedIn post today from a prolific consultant where the first three words were “Companies need to…”.  At its core is a recycled idea (stop benchmarking your competitors) laced with some spirited, low grade outrage.

Look, I get it. If you have a personal online brand to manage, you need to push provocative statements out there daily. It’s tough to feed that beast.

But here’s my question: when was the last time any business of any consequence made any change of any consequence because somebody on the outside posted “Companies need to…”?

I’ve been lucky enough to see businesses from three perspectives – inside the company as an employee or founder, outside the company as a strategy consultant, and most recently from the perspective of the ownership team.

What I’ve learned is that almost universally companies voluntarily change for one and only one reason: enough people stop buying what they sell. That’s it, hard stop.

People in the position to change what companies sell, how they sell it, or how it makes you feel are looking at business results and making hard decisions that have real impact on things like an employee’s job, a bank’s money, or supply shortage. They don’t read unsolicited LinkedIn posts for advice.

Said differently, they listen to what we spend much more than what we say.

If any of us, or (hopefully) all of us, want to change a company’s behavior that’s lame, boring, lazy, or downright frustrating – stop buying from them and spread the word.

Earning Business Versus Expecting It

Here’s how I see it: anybody has the right to earn my business, nobody has the right to expect it. There’s a massive difference between earning and expecting. I enforce this belief diligently by shifting my spending – both in consumer goods and business services. The moment I sense a company has stopped working to earn and started trying to own my business, I find a better alternative.

Look around. It’s quite easy to see the difference between those working hard to earn your dollar, pound, euro, or yen from those trying to tighten their grip on your wallet or purse. Those hustling are trying new ideas, figuring out what you need before you know it, and paying attention to how you feel. In a word, they’re being thoughtful. Thoughtfully better.

If we want companies to be better – it really is pretty simple. Actively stop buying from anyone who isn’t being thoughtfully better for you.

I stopped staying at Marriott. I won’t buy another Ford. I think they expected my business a lot more than they tried to earn it. I’ve had multiple experiences with each of them that were the opposite of thoughtful.

But I’ll drive past every other tire place to find Continental because they went above and beyond for me when I needed it.

Has shifting my spending made an impact yet at any one of those companies? Probably not. But, if more of us hold the companies we buy from to the highest standard of thoughtfulness…it’ll go a lot further than a LinkedIn post saying “Companies need to”…

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