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featured, Rambling

How NOT to grow evangelists

I want to share a story with you about an internet connected light company I met at SXSW. I don’t even remember the name of this company, that’s how much I just didn’t like what they did (despite liking their product). *Deep breathes* Ok here we go.

At an event at SXSW this past March, I was introduced into a bunch of guys who developed another internet connected light bulb, forgetting that Phillips has the market cornered. I went into their space, and saw a bunch of packaged light bulbs on a table, when one of the teams developers came over handed me a beer (which was horrible), and was like “hey man what’s going on? I’m so-n-so and this is our product” etc etc etc.

OK let’s start off with the beer. Not that its true, but what if I was in Alcoholics Anonymous. Sure I shouldn’t have been at SXSW, the biggest party in Austin, but hold on there buddy. Before you offer me a drink, lets get to know one another. Speaking of getting to know one another, he barrel rolled me into his spiel about the product. I hadn’t even gotten a word out before he started showing me all the things it can do and how cool it is. Please remember this is just a light bulb that can be controlled from your phone – nothing really knew.

When he finally took a breath, I asked directly “Hey can I get one of those bulbs, so I can check it out for myself and write a review on it?”. To which he replied “Oh no I can’t give you one, those are for a giveaway if you tweet about us”. So let me get this straight. You want me to tweet to all my followers about a product I haven’t yet touched, used or checked out other than your memorized speech about it? At this point he gave me his business card and another drink (in all fairness I put down the beer). The card was a generic business card with their company name on it. Their company name had NOTHING related to their product. Finally Mr. So-n-So asks “So what do you do?”

I tell him I’m an entrepreneurial consultant and help brands succeed. He asked for an example, so I said “There’s nothing on your card here that explains what you do. Maybe put a little usb plug on one side, and a led bulb on the other, this would show people you are into technology and lights”. His eyes lit up “O-M-G that’s a brilliant idea” and tells his co-worker who also loves it.

Here’s my chance, I thought. I say to Mr. So-n-So “So for that, which I normally charge for, can I get one of your bulbs?” His response – “No, sorry can’t do it man”.

At that point I walked out. You lost me as a potential customer and an evangelist of your product. Essential you lost me at hello.

So what’s all this mean? When you are building your brand you have to remember to offer something to your community. Give them tidbits, give them info, give them beta products. Get them into your ecosystem. Get them to be your walking, talking marketing machines. Had I remembered the name of this company (I threw away the card before I even left their space), I would say – don’t buy from them. They have NO idea what they are doing with their technology. Don’t let people be haters. Make them lovers. Make them love you, your product and your brand.

Got a story you want to share about a brand that did you wrong? Leave a note in the comments!

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