and the Brand’s Perceived Integrity
I think we’d all like to say that we’re not primarily driven by profits. But in reality we’re running a small business, and we’ve got bills to pay! I mean yes, profits do matter, of course! But where do you find the balance?
A number of years ago I met with a business owner who told me straight out that he is comfortable with morally ambiguous actions. This led me to believe that he was in it for the money. This also led me to believe I needed to disassociate from him – lest the wind blow in my direction! I knew I couldn’t do business with him because I no longer trusted him.
I admit I was surprised by this, or maybe naive is the right word. Aren’t we better than this? Guess not. I’m constantly surprised at how low people will go for a buck. For me it comes down to integrity. And when it comes to your brand, it absolutely can come through, either way.
The number one way I see this is when a business makes a promise to be relationship and client-focused, but they don’t live up to it in their marketing. What they do in their marketing activities does or does not reflect a level of integrity. It’s a matter of literally showing how the business lives up to its brand promises.
If the business is not carrying through on its promises, they are only paying lip service to them. Which in itself is questionable, not entirely trustworthy, and therefore lacking in integrity. If they have NO brand promises – what I call a blank slate, prospects are left to their own imaginations. And after that first impression, whatever you do from there is going to add or subtract from that person’s perception of the brand.
- The business claims to be relationship-focused but doesn’t respond on social media
- There are almost no reviews or testimonials
- The website does not reflect the info prospects need
- Communications do not reflect an understanding of prospects’ wants and needs
So back to balancing things out when it comes to meaning & purpose vs. profits. If we have two scenarios, one in which the business carries through and one in which it doesn’t, who are you more likely to do business with? On some subconscious level, this stuff registers and affects our decision-making. The real “people” people have a hard time hiding that fact. It shows up in their content, their experience, their service mentality and activities, and more.
The non- “people” people generally show up eager for the sale. Or are these the people who weren’t aware of how to live up to brand promises – they just didn’t know. But prospects don’t know that they didn’t know. All they know is what they see:
- Looking for a quick sale (light on content)
- More likely into hard selling and high pressure (icky)
- Focus on pain points instead of benefits (nobody likes to be reminded of their pain points)
I should mention here that a business can be successful even when they suck at relationship development. And good, heart-centered businesses fail. There are always outliers. I strive to be true to my brand and be able to look myself in the mirror. That’s how I find my balance – by knowing that if nothing else, I’m acting with integrity and genuinely want to help others.
If you’re more on the morally ambiguous side of things, good for you, you’ll probably get a lot of life lessons out of it! Or you’ll be on your death bed wondering if you really were a decent human being or not. Oops – a bit harsh I know! But those people aren’t for me.