Not all hype is bad. However bad hype is. Lets get into a little cause and effect discussion here. Your business may desperately need a gut check.
The good hype is the kind we can agree with at an emotional or gut level with no resistance. An easy example in recent times is anything Apple related. Of course this continues to be good hype because the entire Apple experience is fulfilling from product to service to the human experience with brand, and the shared conversation with Apple customers geeking over the latest iPhone or musing over favorite apps on the iPad.
The bad side of hype, of course occurs when one or many claims about a product or service are not agreeable at the emotional or gut level. The easiest way to know bad hype is in a continual re-surfacing of bad experiences. The easiest way to spot hype gone bad is negative-word-of-mouth.
Now, how the two intertwine.
Fast, faster and even faster hype – the slug fest of right and wrong.
Keep in mind, hype doesn’t help especially when you are trying to leverage hype without much concern for the world your service or product serves.
Consider the recent Ocean Marketing crisis where a “regular” customer got mistreated at the customer service level and sent a few emails to other businesses in the industry looking for help and ended up being supported by industry leaders as they systematically dismantled an unscrupulous marketer. All within a couple of days via email and blog posts.
Although the big drama was watching things spin out of control at Ocean Marketing as Paul got choked out for being a bully, the small and important lesson for all of us is that the customer was worried about the early hype that got him to put money on the table during pre-order sales. He questioned that hype, fearing he would not get the product he paid for and his very basic questions were no different than you or I would ask. The story that unfolded after that is now internet lore with over 600k views on YouTube since being posted 6 days ago.
Make no mistake, even though it was “business as usual” for all the parties involved, it became hype along the way thanks to the power available to regular people and the internet.
With all the parties involved, the technology and viral nature of the web has threaded out several channels of hype just in this one situation – a pre-order of a game controller and a bad customer service experience. Those that did not know about the product the customer bought are now advocating and probably purchasing the product, where as Ocean Marketing, the company responsible for marketing and customer service has been crippled through the event, while Mike and his site Penny Arcade have fostered even more support and genuine appreciation by fans and industry leaders. And to further claim his point-of-view and support for the regular person, Mike reported:
“It might not always make the most business sense and it is a policy that has caused us some legal problems, but I really don’t give a shit about that. When these assholes threaten me or Penny Arcade I just laugh. I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.” — Mike Krahulik
It’s virtually impossible to disagree with his perspective. Bad people shouldn’t get away with bad things – and this means that bad marketing, bad service, bad relationships are more and more subject to this type of situation. So, if ever you needed to see the way basic customer service, email, and social media can work for or against you and your business, here it is. And this is not an anomaly – This is the new baseline.
Look at your business
Hype is going further, faster, and with more ease than ever before. As a business owner, marketer, and human – we are one moment away from a house of cards falling. There has never been a better time then now to guide your business with a simple “Do the right thing” influence from the top down, inside and out.
Take a look at who you are aligned with. Do they pass the gut check? Have you made a decision in favor of a vendor only because of low cost or their ‘results’ even though you question their performance or integrity? Have you worked hard to build your company, but not cared much about the human experience of your customers, suppliers, or peers?
Now is the time to consider these things and make changes if needed. You never know when a “regular” customer will introduce you to a lesson on business ethics.