(Time to read this Blog is about 3 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My biz quote of the week:
    “In most businesses, customer ‘ownership’ starts with delivering clear and compelling value and experiences…and then initiating and continuing 2-way ‘conversations’ with customers as a group and customers as individuals. Conversations that keep finding new ways to engage and add value.  Are you delivering clear and compelling value and are you having those important customer-owning ‘conversations?”
    …Donald Cooper  
  1. On this Remembrance Day please take a few minutes to think about and appreciate those who sacrificed so much to keep us safe and free!
  2. Do you use a wireless telephone headset? Much of my work during these ‘Covid days’ is Business Coaching by telephone. For these calls I use a hands-free, wireless telephone headset.  These devices are inexpensive, a huge convenience and save you from straining and misaligning your neck and back if you’re trying to balance the phone on your shoulder while you talk. Being wireless, you can get up and walk around a bit, which tends to add energy to your conversation.
  3. 96% of US businesses stay under $1M in sales. Here’s why:
    1) Limited vision, ambition or ability.
    2) They see themselves as doers of tasks…not leaders and developers of people.
    3) Won’t hire anyone smarter than them.
    4) Super controlling. Won’t empower and won’t allow anyone challenge their thinking or decisions. 

Now, to this week’s important topic:

You can’t build a Brand on lies, inappropriate behaviour and broken promises:

One of the world’s strongest personal Brands took a beating this past week and there’s an important lesson there for all of us in business.  My example below gets into politics and will likely tick off a few of our readers…but it’s too good an example to pass up.

Trump lost the election (no, this is not fake news) and I think it’s largely because lots of people were fed up with his lies and inappropriate behaviour.  

According to the fact-checkers at the Washington Post, as of July 9, 2020 Trump had made 20,000 false or misleading statements (lies) in just 27 months of his presidency. This is an average of 24 lies a day! 

Since reading that appalling info, I’ve been thinking a lot about the subject of lying and what I’ve determined is that there are two types of liars. There are the ‘delusional liars’ and the ‘completely aware’ liars’. The ‘delusional liars’ are so narcissistic, so removed from reality that they actually believe their lies are the truth.  The ‘completely aware’ liars know that their lies are lies, but they tell them anyway to convince others of something, or to make themselves appear to be exceptional. 


So, is Trump a ‘delusional liar’ or a ‘completely aware liar’?  In any case, his lies and inappropriate behaviour weakened his Brand enough to get him fired.  In business we probably have some ‘delusional liars’ but my guess is most are perfectly aware liars.  

Way too many businesses are making false claims to mislead or manipulate us with lies or half-truths. There’s false advertising, fake discounts, phoney ‘Sales’, marking up to mark down, bait and switch, hidden charges and delivery dates they know they can’t meet. The list is endless.  

And then, of course, there are those wonderful Extended Warranties. You know, those pieces of paper that appliance and electronics retailers purchase for $15 and then con us into buying for $129.95. 

When buying a major appliance recently, the salesperson spent 30 minutes assuring us that this particular fridge was the most wonderful piece of quality design and engineering known to mankind.  Then, as soon as we agreed to buy it, he did an immediate about-face and ‘confidentially’ warned us that (and I paraphrase), “For a piece of crap like this you really should get the extended warranty for just $129.95…because you never know what might happen.”

Then there’s ‘marking up to mark down’, the process of putting a fake high price on something and then putting it ‘on sale’.  Joseph A. Bank menswear used to run expensive TV ads in the USA offering “Buy one suit and get 3 free!”.  Nobody can stay in business being ‘honestly’ on sale at 40% to 80% off three weeks out of four.  You know it…and I know it.  So they mark up to mark down and when this year’s lies aren’t big enough to grab people’s attention, they have to tell even bigger lies next year.  The ‘race to the bottom’ is also a race to see who can get away with the biggest, boldest deception. 

My advice is, “Stop it…stop all of it now.”  You can’t sustain the Presidency of the United States or a business on lies, half truths, broken trust or unkept promises. It doesn’t take the Federal Government going after you for false advertising to ruin your reputation and your brand.   It could be just a few unhappy customers on social media telling 1000s of ‘friends’ that you can’t be trusted.   

To quote the late Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, “Just do the right thing!”  Here’s a simple question that every business should ask and honestly answer…

“Are we trying to get people to do what we want them to do, or are we absolutely committed to helping them do what they want to do?”

Here are 4 clear steps to getting it right:

  1. Define yourself by how you help your target customers…not by what you sell. People are tired of being ‘sold’ and they want to be helped. Ultimately, you’ll sell more by helping more.
  2. Make a list of all the help they might need in any way related to wisely choosing or effectively using what you sell.
  3. Now get creative and determine what extraordinary things you’ll do to deliver some of that help, better than your competitors. Become the ‘caring coach’, the trusted and respected authority in your market. Then, determine how you’ll effectively and honestly communicate your compelling value and your integrity. There’s no point in being the best if you’re also the best kept secret.
  4. This whole process takes three things…integrity, creativity and courage. We hear lots of talk about creativity and innovation in business today, but we hear very little conversation about courage. There’s no point in being creative if you lack courage because you’ll never have the guts to implement the neat, creative ideas that you come up with.  So, in both business and life, creativity and courage walk hand in hand.  One is useless without the other.

So, are you ‘playing it straight’ with your target customers?  If not, what needs fixing, what specific action do you commit to take…and by when will that happen?

That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly…and do at least 3 important or kind things each day!       

Donald Cooper 

Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

One Response to You can’t build a Brand on lies, inappropriate behaviour and broken promises:
  1. Comment *Donald,
    I am not a huge fan of Donald Trump’s actions and antics. But I am also not a huge fan of the “fact checkers” of the Washington Post, or any other news source. It seems to me, that if a newspaper, or other media source, makes its money from political ads, those media outlets might be inclined to say whatever the advertisers want them to say. Otherwise, the media outlets cease getting revenue. Part of the problem with the world is that there are very few honest media sources. They are virtually all bought by the advertisers.

    BTW, I am a huge fan of you and your newsletters. We met at a Tech Select conference years ago 🙂


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