For the second time in a week, the weather people foretold of a big storm coming. They said we would end up with 12-14 inches of snow and this time they were actually right! I ended up getting about 12 and half inches of snow and other place got a little more but most were in the 12-14 inches range. This entire experience of the two storms provides a great example of the brand promise.
During the first storm, it was a bust, we didn’t get anywhere near what they claimed we would. People had stocked up on food and supplies, cancelled weekend plans and prepared to sit at home by the fireplace all weekend long. Only to find out, it was a respectable storm, but nothing an hour of shoveling couldn’t handle. People were disappointed and a bit mad, even calling the weather people, the weather terrorists who tried to scare everyone.
The weather people built up the trust that you can trust them for telling you when the big ones are coming and the promise was broken in the eyes of a lot of people. They believed in the commercials and ads about being able to trust the weather forecasters in the event of a big one, that they would give us accurate forecasts. And for the first storm they didn’t. So we were stuck with all these supplies, enough bottled water to last the rest of the year and soup to last a few years. My friend who manages a grocery store said they made a killing on that first storm, it was like Thanksgiving for them in terms of sales.
With in less than a week, again, we were told to brace ourselves for another big one. Most people went on with their lives not preparing or believing the forecasters. They were immune to the daily warnings. Many proclaiming that you can’t trust the forecasters, that it was all hype to get us to stay home or buy more stuff. Some did the opposite of what we were asked to do in preparation.
Finally the day came, the day the storm was to hit. They said noon to 2pm it would hit us. It was clear skies and windy. I knew the wind could be trouble that’s usually how it starts around here, it gets really windy. By evening, the snow had started. The next morning, there was a sea of snow and it kept on coming. Snow plows came by but just ended up trapping everyone in their homes as the snow walls were 4 feet high when they drove buy. So now we were stuck for some time trying to clear all that snow.
Lucky for me the snow plow guy decided not to place a 4 foot wall of snow in front of my driveway so I could get out and move around. Which was a good thing because the power went out. So I went to the mall, which almost never loses power. Many places were closed, everyone was understaffed. The supermarket had people scrambling for supplies, again the pallet of Pop-Tarts had been rolled out, although my friend told me sales were not really coming in, certainly nothing like the last storm. A look of concern and “we need to take this serious” had returned to everyone’s face and snow emergency mentality was back in force.
The forecasters had created a brand promise to tell people that they will provide accurate reports at least for the big storms. That promise was broken in the eyes of many and they did not believe the forecasters. This happens with company brands all the time. Often the company provides a brand promise “low prices”, “high quality”. “reliable service.” And then some where along the line that promise gets broken, often due to budget issues and corners are cut. This is mainly due to the fact that the idea of keeping your brand promise is not fully understood.
As the forecasters found out, when they break their brand promise, people don’t buy what they sell. It took a big storm of up to 25 inches in some places, to get that promise back. If that was money, we are talking having spending thousands per customer to get their trust back. That’s a lot of money! The up front cutting of corners, actually costs more money in the end when the company must spend money to gain the trust back. And companies can’t rely on nature to provide the opportunity; they have to pay for it.
So the two storms provide a great lesson in brand promise. Ensure you can deliver on your promise or find yourself struggling to win back customers. What ever short term profits you may make by cutting corners, will be off set by the price you pay down the road, trying to win those customers back.