Saying No….

By Posted in - Brand & Marketing & Strategy on October 31st, 2005
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Excerpt from “Create More Satisfied Non-Customers” by John Winsor.

“Likewise, brands have a habit of communicating their ability to always be on. To be there, waiting to give you the very best performance. Most of the time the “peak performance” message is quickly diluted when the customer starts interacting with the brand by such things as calling to place an order and having to wait too long on the phone or by getting a delivery only to find out half of the items are back-ordered with no communications.
The only way to solve this dilemma of promising a peak performance and delivering something less is to practice the art of saying no. It’s hard to do. Yet, I’ve lost too many clients over the years by trying to stretch our capabilities at Radar too far. I hadn’t trained enough.

I’ve learned that by saying no I can create satisfied non-customers. And, I’d rather have satisfied non-customers than dissatisfied customers, any day. “

John Winsor put this amazing post up on Corante’s BrandShift today. It was a reference to another post (which I’m sure must happen all the time) which isn’t significant to my post, but you can read if you’d like to. But in it was a concept that I feel very strongly about, saying “no.”

Many companies I’ve dealt with in my life, not just professionally but as a consumer or observer, have been guilty of “trying to be all things to all people.” They want their brand to appear, as John Winsor put it “always on.” I like his ideas about saying “no.” Not because you aren’t capable of doing the job per se, or that you need the money, but because perhaps you “have a feeling” that this project might not work. Maybe you know something about how your client intends to use the product, or something intangible like someone on your team who is going through a tough time and can’t give their all. Maybe you just don’t think you’d have much fun doing the work.

I agree with John that in those situations, you do more for your brand by saying “no” than you do trying to take the job on.

You don’t have to be “always on” you have to be always true. That’s what a brand is to me. Apple Computers are a good example of that. All these years later, they still have a very small percentage of their market (computers, not iPods), they are still more expensive than a comparable “PC”, and yet they are still thought of as the “artists computer”… slick, cool and easy to use. Even to the people that don’t buy them. I have learned to use both platforms to do anything from audio to graphic design to running my business affairs and still prefer a Mac. They are just made for someone who organizes their thoughts and works like I do, I guess. People who know me are not surprised that I am a “Mac person” and socially it can be quite a compliment… people know that means you’re probably a “creative” person. We should all be so lucky to have that kind of a reputation for our business.

Sometimes the best thing for you is to say no… and John’s right, people will respect you even more for it.

I find the whole concept of a “non customer” interesting as well. Talk about people that are interacting with your brand. They chose “not to work with you” or “buy your product” because of an important reason, and they are just as likely to be connectors or salespeople to their friends and family. So how much more of an impact would it make if the people that “didn’t choose you” weren’t out there telling people it was because you tried to screw them on a service plan that doesn’t meet their needs (ahem _________ PCS). Boy, you have Verizon!, I love them! I didn’t choose them because of XXXX… but wow! I’m impressed you’re a “Verizon Person.”

The “non customer” is an interesting audience to think about… and I like the idea of having a good relationship with them. What they think could be quite powerful in your market.

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