Do you make promises you can keep?

How true are your brand’s promises? 

This post was originally published on our blog in 2011 and has been updated and re-published.

Growing up in a small town in South Carolina meant that everybody knew everybody’s business. So, when a cheating spouse was spotted slipping around with someone other than their lawfully wedded partner, it was across town in fifteen minutes, tops. Some partners just can’t keep their promises.

Sometimes companies are like straying marriage partners; they can’t keep their promises. I mean brand promises. In marketing your brand’s promise is the inherent pact you create with consumers based on your marketing, your communications via e-mail, phone and face-to-face.

Promise Keeper or Promise Breaker?

If you can’t keep your promises, you might offer *quality products* and then break the implicit brand promise to the consumer by refusing to replace that quality product when it fails. Or you might say you care about your customers and have the world’s hardest to negotiate phone system, demonstrating how you don’t care. How about the oft read claims, “Worlds best food” or similar notations printed on menus and then never read the customer suggestions deposited in the “Suggestions” box.

Have you ever reviewed your actions and communications to determine if you are keeping the promises you state or imply? You may be startled to learn the truth, or then you may find out you are a faithful partner.

One of the most derided consumer facing brands is Comcast, now called Xfinity. Consumers regularly call out the poor customer service they have experienced. Yet, on their customer service website the leader of the division states that you — the customer — is priority number one and that the company is there for you. Yet this doesn’t square with examples such as this tweet:


While there was an Xfinity response to this tweet, there is no method for the public to judge who is more truthful, especially since a search for the company name and customer service brings up hundreds of tweets about the lack of service . One of the most basic rules of branding is: The last interaction the consumer had with the brand is the brand’s promise, kept or broken. Faith is difficult to earn, hard to prove and very easy lose.

While national brands are always going to struggle in the face of consumers who may not comprehend, accept or understand your terms of service, limits of liability and other aspects of meeting their needs, your brand must always strive to provide evidence of care and concern. This begins with open, transparent help and support and demonstrations of sympathy. With regard to this, Comcast / Xfinity gets that right with their message 

Never forget, consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your brand. 

How can you ensure you have demonstrated your caring?  

6 Points to Review to Determine if Yours is a Faithful Brand

  1. Is there congruence between your outward marketing messages and your corporate behavior?
  2. Do you take regular customer satisfaction surveys that allow anonymous responses?
  3. Do you publish the findings from your consumer surveys, at least as customer concerns slated for improvement?
  4. Do you regularly implement a series of steps to correct the negative findings from your surveys?
  5. Does your senior staff model all the brand promises?
  6. So you allow staff and employees to have an active hand in the company’s direction? AND Do you have a method of surveying your employees for their views on the company’s direction?

Building an ethical B2B network of alliances

Note: This article was originally published in October 2010. We’ve updated it and edited it since joining the social business networking site Alignable. We invite your thoughts on how to get the best use from B2B social networking sites.

Alliances are important

As a small business owner I seek to provide value to my clients. My firm offers an honest appraisal of the services which, in our professional opinion, the client needs. Most of the time we provide all services directly, but when requirements call for a larger scope beyond our immediate ability to serve all the client’s needs, we provide services through associates.

We’ve chosen to stay small and have opted not to carry the overhead of employees, preferring an alliance of select colleagues with whom we partner to meet a client’s goals. So it’s important that our alliance mirror the work ethic, value proposition and attitude that we offer clients.

Choosing partners

We’ve been pretty fortunate to have found some incredible alliance partners who have helped us grow our business. We recommend them heartily and often. We trust them to provide superior services.

What’s even more wonderful is that we can trust each of the business owners to do the right thing.

Taking and not giving

In the past we’ve experienced situations where people were not truthful. We were taken advantage of in some instances and in others; we learned that other businesses suffered, were tricked, or deceived.

What frustrates us is that these people took advantage of a situation of privilege. Obviously, they no longer have our trust. They have destroyed one of the most essential assets they have: their reputation.

We are the company we keep

It’s essential for small businesses to have alliances. It helps grow a circle of influence or gain new clients as well as strengthen the business community. Just be sure that when you select your alliance partners, you can trust them when they are out of your sight.

How do you connect with people who may refer business?

We’ve recently joined Alignable. The site says it is, “the Small and Local Business Network.” As with many other social networking sites, it is designed to leverage your connections. The goal is to get to know other business owners and share referrals.

Face to face networking groups such as BNI are still viable for new businesses and those with consumer focused services. LinkedIn exists to help us leverage our professional history and contacts and is one to one. Alignable seems to be company to company and in some instances individual to individual.

Have you tried Alignable? What are your thoughts about the site? Will you use social networking sites like this one to grow your business? What tips can you share about using Alignable? More importantly, how will you vet businesses with whom your connect? How will you determine if their ethics mesh with yours and they are a fit for mutual benefit? Please share your thoughts.