Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Facing Crisis 2. Rules of Promotion

In the context of this narrative it makes sense to divide lifecycle of any company into two types: normal periods of time and crisis time periods, these time spaces changing one another more and more frequently during recent decades.

Promoting its business within normal time periods, a company behaves as usual, and “as usual” means – according to some standard rules. From the very start let us disregard deviations (liars, cheaters, charlatans, etc.) and speak only about companies practicing conscientious approach to business. Thus, I am not discussing business ethics, let’s take it for granted.

We are so accustomed to the rules of promotion in regular business, that strangeness of these rules is not noticed. For instance, the rules make me saying here and there (the more frequent the better) that my company is the best one, that it beats all the competitors in all the main items, that we provide customers with unique services using our unique experience and expertise best available at the market. Quite recognizable, isn’t it? I bet it is. Do I tell the truth? No, certainly not. So, am I lying? I would answer equivocally: all the businesses do so, and I play according to the rules. We all have got accustomed to those rules, though a great number of them are really ridiculous. It is well known, for instance, that different companies while promoting competing products of the same niche use almost the same advertising texts. Moreover, these similar texts are rather stupid very often. The heroes of commercials urge us to speak, for example, to our hair or to dirt on a carpet (“Say NO to dandruff!”, “Say NO to stains!”), and nobody seems to be surprised. Why? – Because nobody really cares: such are the rules, and you are welcome to say any rubbish since nobody really listens to you, and texts in your commercials are just signs that your company exists and is ready to serve its clients.

Thus, a client automatically translates heaps of exaggerations and oddities of your promotional stuff into just a few simple and clear signs, and nothing is lost in this translation. In fact, the resulting signs just define the layer you belong to as a vendor. Every kind of business is naturally subdivided into a few layers each of them containing companies of almost equal qualities and capabilities. Layers differ from each other in “scale”: volume and level of provided services, popularity of brand, annual turnover, etc. So, signs coded in your promos show which layer you belong to. Client reads this information and then decides whether you seem a perfect representative of the layer or not. If yes – good for you, you are chosen! If no – you hardly has a chance to change the client’s mind.

Very simple. Then why do we use so much efforts and money to code our clear signs into bizarre commercials? Such are the rules, the rules for normal periods of time in business lifecycle. What about crisis time periods, should we comply to the same rules? I doubt we really have to. For more details see my next post.