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Monday, August 25, 2008

Destroying your brand -- Creating opportunities for your competitors

This image from Apple's advertising campaign rings true to me -- and my computer frustrations -- along with references from friends and contractors -- have pushed me over the edge. I'm buying an Apple laptop today. See this interesting Beyond B1nary blog posting: "Are Apple Ads Hurting Microsoft's Brand?"

I've spent many hours this weekend fighting hardware and software problems on my recently purchased HP Pavilion laptop. Despite the problems, I'm not particularly mad at Hewlett-Packard. Their online technical support has been responsive, and they are honoring their warranty.

My thoughts are not so warm towards Microsoft and Vista. Combined with my own experience, colleagues and friends have complained about the bloated crash-oriented and painful maintenance issues here. Having gone through one harrowing and frustrating experience just trying to hook up the laptop via wireless to the printer network at home and office, I'm simply not prepared to endure the same ordeal once my laptop is returned from warranty repairs.

So, tomorrow, I'm going to the store and buying an Apple. I'll pay a premium for the computer and its operating system. When my HP is returned from warranty, I'll use some free time to make the computer functional again, as a back-up for occasional use. And I'll probably buy the Microsoft Office package for the Mac, simply to avoid the stress of worrying about new processes and procedures. But I certainly won't rush to buy shares of Microsoft, and I am in no rush to 'enjoy' listening to new advertising campaign to build their brand. Apple has it right -- showing clearly the bloated and irritating Vista system for what it is. (Expletives deleted.)

(HP suffers collateral damage, of course, as well, but their losses are mitigated somewhat by the fact they were accessible and responded effectively to my frustrations.)

Why is this important to your construction business? Consider situations where you feel a need to get up and leave -- to break a long-established relationship. These are special competitive opportunities. Sometimes the failing internal dynamics and sloppy business practices of your competition cause their best and most loyal employees to want to leave. More often (and less risky to you), sometimes your best employees arrive at your doorstep because a non-competing business 'blows it' and that businesses' employees are now actively looking for work. (I always think it risky to directly hire people from your direct competitors; outside of potential litigation risks from non-compete employment contracts, they may have absorbed too much of your competitor's culture and values, and thus could poison your own operation.)

Consider your potential clients -- loyal, long-term customers suddenly ready to embrace change. If you are ready, you will be able to do more than put your foot in the door; you can walk right in. (I will, today, when I hand my Amex card and buy the Apple product and its operating system.)

How do you destroy your brand (and business)? Lose touch with your clients; produce inferior quality, act high-and-mighty, be unresponsive, and cause them hardship and inconvenience. (Thanks, Microsoft!)

How do you repair your brand? Forget the advertising campaign, lip-service to cliches, and your own propagandits who tell you how the competitors are really missing the boat. Get out there and fix the problems. You can restore your good name and brand, and rebuild your business.

I know, first hand. We're doing that right now with our own business (just in time!)


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the bright side Mark :P You won't regret this move. If you need any help getting started with the new OS, don't be shy to ask. I'm always willing to help out "the cause."

Daniel Smith
Smithereens Blog
Productivity, Persuasion, Prose

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Agreed... and so far I'm enjoying the experience (though it takes some time to rid myself of Microsoft habits....)
Alhough not clearly explained in the previous posting, the thing that drove me over the bend was that I could not retrieve the backup of all my files, prepared as I realized that I would need to send the computer in for repairs -- even though the backup was sent using the Vista resources. As I spent hours probing the problem, I discovered that others have difficulties with this as well.