Beware of Commoditizing Customers or Members

I am serving as emcee/learning weaver for a major convention in Las Vegas this week, a role that gives me the opportunity to engage with each of the general session presenters.

Yesterday, John Moore of Brand Autopsy shared this slide in his presentation The Bigness of Smallness.  It featured the above quote from the always insightful Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void.

It is a wise admonishment, one that associations in particular should heed.  As associations emulate business strategy and tactics with their products and services, they risk damaging the one thing that makes them truly unique: the member relationship.

In his excellent presentation, Moore also noted that a brand story must be about more than just low prices.  In talking with him onstage afterwards, I pointed out how Wal-Mart has done shifted its tagline from "Always Low Prices" to "Save Money, Live Better" as one example supporting his point.

Moore advises that great brand stories show how the brand:
  • Improves lives
  • Rights a wrong
  • Makes good better
Three simple story lines that so much branding and marketing fails to reflect.

And perhaps most importantly of all, Moore noted that organizations must BE the story and should focus more on being strategies rather than branding strategies.  How is the brand story that we tell to members and customers reflects in how we are with them and with our employees?

Are you commoditizing your customers or members?
Are you telling a great brand story?
Are you being the great story that you are telling?

1 comment:

john moore (from Brand Autopsy) said...

Jeff... thanks for the blog love. You did a great job as emcee for the event. Great goin'!

As you point out in your post, the seasoned marketer in me believe less in branding strategies and more in being strategies. Here's what I mean... if a business (a) makes money, (b) makes customers happy, and (c) makes employees happy then the business doesn't need to worry about building a strong brand.

If a business makes money, makes customer happy, and makes employees happy the result will be a strong brand. It's that simple but it's that difficult. Dig?