Uber’s Image

An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance. Uber’s image has taken a beating. A shellacking. A bloody thumping. And it started long ago. I’m one of the few humans who finds nothing to like about Las Vegas. But when I’m reluctantly in town, I use Lyft to shuttle around. Upon occasion, the Lyft driver will also have an Uber sticker in the windshield. I always ask them who they like working with better, and why. In a word, they think Uber is a hard-nosed, cheap outfit, difficult to work with. Okay, that was more than a word – but their dislike for Uber is palpable. In fact, they would rather drive for Lyft but they still bow to Uber’s market dominance. Which is fading. Where did Uber’s bad reputation begin? It appears to have started at the top, where all corporate culture begins. From there, the next … Continue reading

Honesty is one of the better policies

A young immigrant entrepreneur is quoted as having once said “You want to lose all of your customers? Lie to one of them.” Like most axioms, it is a battle hardened truth that the next generation enjoys ignoring, just as the previous generation did (and no, that is not an intentional dig at one of the elder presidential candidates, though this shoe fits snugly). All relationships are built on trust, including the primal relationship of commerce. Where our immigrant entrepreneur zeroed-in on reality is the all-and-everything mechanics of integrity, branding and markets. His conclusion was that if you lied to one customer, he or she would communicate to your others. This 20th century businessman, who landed in America before the First World War, understood buzz marketing, or at very least negative buzz. Give one person a reason to disbelieve you and soon everyone will. When members of an industry routinely … Continue reading

Marketing Truthiness

Honesty is one of the better policies. While recently chatting with a legendary Silicon Valley CEO, we spoke about his company’s documented culture. The first two pillars of their shared ethics were honesty and integrity (which go hand-in-hand). In his semiconductor industry, honesty and integrity are occasionally vague terms, yet his company has thrived by dealing with employees, suppliers and customers with rather unshakable decency. More marketers should follow his example. Like politicians, some marketers have found creative ways of distorting the truth. Eschewing outright lies, they lean more heavily upon vague generalities, measured over-selling and promising support that never fully materializes. This short-sighted approach produces short-term results with long-term ruin. Marketing dishonesty can lift revenues. People will buy products on a false promise, but only once. If a marketer wants to bump this quarter’s numbers, inaccurate promotions can shift a few fence-sitting prospects into the “win” column. But the … Continue reading

Cultural Connections

Culture determines how to market

“Donate tonight,” said the actress at a local community theater, using a shrill and fake British accent to warm-up the audience for the evening’s production of Spamalot. “After all, it is the arts. Our culture. Just the very basis of civilization as we know it!” As uncultured as advertising often is, it connects to culture or it fails (and if uncultured advertising works, then the culture needs an upgrade). The antiseptic dictionary definition of culture is “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.” It is the sum of the social fabric in which individuals wrap themselves, typically from indoctrination or attraction (the latter explaining why red-headed proto-yuppies sing gangsta rap tunes). Culture includes things that are familiar, and thus comfortable. Advertising that attaches to specific cultural beliefs is more rapidly accepted. It is little wonder that billboards for American political candidates are almost always … Continue reading