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Don’t LeBron Me Bro’ (reprise)

In honor of the Mavericks victory in the NBA finals–and LeBron James’ inability to advance his brand during the past 11 months–a reprise of a post from last July.

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In any relationship that truly matters–romantic, friendship or business–one of the goals is building ever deeper levels of trust and connection.

In a relationship that is thriving, the parties have turned toward each other and are moving closer to one another. In one that is struggling, the parties are turning away from each other. In one that is already in trouble, the parties turn their backs, often literally, but certainly metaphorically, to each other.

Both people and brands signal they are desire a connected relationship through humility, a willingness to listen and through thoughts and actions that build connection.

Which brings me to LeBron.

Over the weekend, Brand LeBron demonstrated a few things quite clearly: he is keenly interested in himself, he does not particularly want to listen and few of his actions are about connecting on any substantive level off the court.

But this blog ain’t about basketball and I’m pretty sure LeBron will be fine.  But what about your brand?

Take a look at what you do and be rigorously honest about the messages you send to your customers and prospects. How much says you are in it for them versus just for yourself?  How much time and energy do you really put into seeking client input and acting on it?  What can you point to that clearly demonstrates you are moving to deeper levels of engagement, trust and connection?

Not too long ago I was involved with consumer research for a brand that is considered pretty good at customer service.  Yet a disturbingly large percentage of customers told us that they frequently did not get waited on by salespeople in our store, and often when they did, they got a lot of attitude from the salespeople.   They were quick to tell us about a competitor where the experience was far better.   Guess which store was getting the greatest share of their wallet?  Clearly for these consumers, many of whom were very high spending in the category, the company had turned their back on them and they had done the same to us.

In my experience, once a relationship has been “LeBronned” it’s tough to turn it around.   Maybe at your company you have the ability to get your CEO on Larry King or Oprah to do a mea culpa.  But for most of us, we have to do the work-the Wirk?–of a customer-centric strategy every day.

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