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The C Principle – Be “Clear”

I’ve said it before…customers have enough things to worry about without you muddling things even more. Develop clarity in your brand if you have an expectation for you customer to continue using your services.

There’s a Chinese proverb about a horse that escapes from a Chinese man’s village. Everyone consoles the Chinese man, to whom the man replies, “You never know. It could be good luck.”

Shortly thereafter, the escaped horse returns with another beautiful mare alongside it. The villagers’ tunes change quickly and they proclaim happily about how wonderful the man’s luck was after all.

The Chinese man responds by once again casting caution, saying: “You never know – this horse could be bad luck.”

The villagers scoff. Within a month, though, the Chinese man’s son breaks the horse and begins to ride it proudly through town. Until one day the horse rises up and the boy falls off and breaks his leg.

Once again, villagers come and cry that the Chinese man has encountered such misfortune.

“Do not fear,” the Chinese man says. “You never know – this could be a good sign.”

A few days later the Emperor sends for all able-bodied young men to fight in the war.

Most young men die in the battle. But not the son of the Chinese man, for he could not go. His leg was broken and he was passed over.

The Chinese tale is supposed to enforce the notion that people should take care when judging a situation. That is, until they really know what’s happening. Move too quickly and you could come up with the wrong result.

But even more importantly, the story illustrates the type of adventure your customer could take if you aren’t clear and consistent in your messaging and brand promise. Take for example, that you promise timely delivery of goods, but then you are late delivering. So then you have to provide a make up trip. And you are late again.

You can see how that could quickly get out of hand. But if you make a promise and keep it – you deliver the goods on time – then you have provided clear, honest direction for your customer.

Yes, everyone wants to have good customer service. But I’m not just talking about good customer service. I am talking about something even more important: knowing what your brand is (knowing what it is exactly your company will always sacrifice for) and then always…ALWAYS…delivering that brand.

You could wait out all the possible conclusions like the Chinese proverb, or you could be more proactive and understand exactly what the expected outcome should be. Then…act on it.

Preview of brand principle “D” – Be Distinct – without differentiation, you are every man (and more realistically, no man). Successful branding helps the customer make fewer decisions. If they have to decide every time whether to use your service or not, you’re making them work too hard.

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