Define Your Purpose, Write Your Ethos

With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, we are reminded of the importance of having purpose in our many dealings throughout life. Mr. Mandela’s purpose was to end oppression in his country and unite his nation. Even after being unjustly imprisoned during the prime of his life, Mr. Mandela held true to his purpose. He became not only the face of an uprising, but after his release, the leader of his nation and an example for the world. Mr. Mandela truly lived a life to his defined purpose — to his ethos.

Today, many of us live and conduct business with “flaky” purpose. We do not specifically define ourselves or our business. Because of this, we do not live or work to a defined purpose, rather we jump from choice to choice and decision to decision. Although we can still be effective in life, and in business, without defining our specific purpose, truly great lives and truly great businesses are not “flaky.” A great life, like a great business, is focused, continually worked on, bettered, and passed on to the next person.

With the New Year approaching, many of us will make our New Year’s resolution. It could be to make it to the gym more or spend more time with our kids; whatever it is, the experts remind us to write it down as goals are more likely to be achieved if they are written down versus something verbal or in thought. With that in mind, I encourage you to not only write down your New Year’s resolution(s) and goals, but to take that one step further and write your own ethos — for yourself and for your business. Write what you live for, what you work for, what you stand for, how you live, how you operate, how you make choices, how you make decisions, what you believe in and how you want to be remembered.

I did this a few months back and it truly reminds me who I am and gives me solace and focus when making choices and decisions. Most of us will never have a specific purpose as great as Mr. Mandela’s, but if we all live and conduct business to our own specific purpose, we will all live the life we want.

Reviewing the New Age in Marketing

The old days of driving a purchasing decision solely through advertisements are over. Advertisers and marketers now have to combat what Google calls “The Zero Moment of Truth.” This moment transcends mere product placement and traditional marketing by representing the time between product introduction and product purchase. This time lag is now filled by readily available and increasingly popular online research and customer reviews.

Whether you are in the market for a local plumber, a new TV, a new car, a restaurant, a hotel or any other of the infinite products and services offered in the marketplace, it is no longer standard practice to act solely on the word of others. The Internet provides millions of bits of information on all types of products and services and heavily influences an increasingly higher percentage of purchases.

As business owners and marketers, we need to understand that our advertising and our name is no longer good enough to drive actual purchases. Sure, our reputation and catchy promotions attract interest and may even give us an initial jump on our competitors, but, in today’s marketplace, one lousy, negative or false review can diminish even the most polished advertising efforts and the sale is lost.

It is not practical to expect a flawless online record. If your business operates long enough, at some point someone will be unhappy with a product or service. That unhappy person may turn to the thousands of review boards that connect consumers all across the globe and publish some sort of unflattering remark directed at your business or your products. How do we monitor online review boards? How do we respond? How do we distance ourselves from bad reviews? When is it advantageous to consult an attorney or take legal action? How do we best protect our reputation online?

By now, you might be thinking, “Well, that’s what crisis communications is for.” A bad review is not a crisis and treating it as such will only amplify the reach and the effect of the review.  New age marketing has to include specific and strategic plans of action pertaining to the handling of negative reviews similar to the way traditional public relations efforts seek to put water over an impending fire. The knowledge, the plan and the execution of handling online reviews not only helps protect your brand, but it can create a competitive advantage, increase customer service efforts and silence defamers. Not all negative reviews are treated the same. Some should be directly addressed on a personal level, some should be strategically distanced from the company and some may need legal attention. Much like consumers, business owners and marketers need to do their research.