Know Your Audience Part II

Back in September 2009 I wrote a post titled Be Sure You Know Your Audience Before You State Your Case. In that post, I talked about a guy that some people know quite well who went on kind of a wrong turn when commenting on something he should have known better about, then decided to write about it on his blog, seemingly with the thought that his readers would immediately take his side. Of course it didn’t happen because he’d forgotten an old adage; make yourself look like you’re superior to others in some fashion and they won’t like it.

by Jon Collier via Flickr

Round two comes with this brilliant post by a guy named Adam Justice on his eponymous named blog (kind of ironic based on the post) titled Viral Virus: Ocean Marketing Is Sunk. This is the tale of not one, but two people who seemed to have it all going on, ready to break through to big riches, only to sabotage themselves and their businesses because they had an inflated sense of self and deflated sense of fairness and common sense to others.

I hope you go read the article, but I’ll give you the quick down and dirty. On the first a guy wrote the company about something he didn’t receive to ask when it would show up and the owner of the company went off on him in an email, basically telling him he was nothing and that he was too important and knew too many other important people for this guy to be bothering him.

The guy goes to a tech reporter who does a follow up, the guy responds in kind and believes he’s in the right on how he responded, and all heck breaks loose, the company tumbles, and instead of acts of contrition he continues inserting foot in mouth.

On the second, a woman happens across a website that she realizes has been stealing her content, recipes. She contacts the woman to point it out, and says that she’s not upset but believes a donation to a college program would be a nice thing to do. The woman instead chews her out for bad writing, says everything on the internet is open for everyone to take as theirs, and says the woman should pay her for editing the content and making her recipes look better.

Of course that gets out, journalists and the like go after her, and her business folds within 2 weeks. Even with that she takes to the web and issues a condescending apology, opening herself up to more derision as well.

UCLA Bruins Women's Gymnastics - 1888
Parker Knight
via Compfight

Both of these instances prove that sometimes people get a false sense of how important they are. Just because you’ve finally made it, or are on the verge of making it, doesn’t mean you get the right to treat others badly, especially in today’s world of social media, where anything can go viral in an instant if the right person puts the word out. The first guy actually knew he was in trouble when he wrote to the tech writer and asked him to stop the flood, which of course was impossible once the word got out.

I’m a small guy when it comes to business and social media, yet last April I got my bit of mess on when I had a major league affiliate complaint against Finish Line, who basically decided not to pay me a commission then closed my account for low sales on the same day. I posted the email here, the guy threatened me, I dared him to do something about it, and got it to Twitter where it not only got retweeted often, but a different representative of Finish Line contacted me.

Of course it never got resolved because I’m not a big enough guy to warrant any courtesy, but if I’d touched a real nerve with more people who knows right? I thought about taking it to the media but decided it wasn’t worth it; maybe I was wrong, but that one’s on me.

Here’s the thing. All of us have the right to rant. We also have the right to have a bad customer service experience, even if someone else is the customer. What we don’t get to do is put someone else down while building ourselves up, especially when we’re in the wrong.

That these two people couldn’t see that they were wrong smacks of elitism, and sends the wrong message about perception, which I wrote about last week. I write often that I want to be big, but not so I can try to bully others when I’m wrong, or potentially wrong. That’s the wrong reason to want anything; doesn’t anyone remember the lessons of Lord of the Rings?

If you want to ruin your career and any chance of making real money in life, learn the wrong lessons from people like this. I hope you learn the right lesson and condemn folks like this instead.

24 thoughts on “Know Your Audience Part II”

  1. Everybody, who wants to be in any kind of marketing should know: there isn’t any thing more important than the CUSTOMER! And it doesn’t depend on the age , gender, money etc. of the costumer. Without this simple axiom, there will be no success.

    1. Great point Cindy. Thing is, to be just a regular human being means the same type of thing, and obviously these two didn’t learn those courtesy lessons in school.

  2. Tweaking one campaign takes time, the right point is to put yourself into position of customer, ask for review and feedback. I may say that I have been in similar situations to this cases, as well as few times my affiliate account was locked too, due to just asking for my commission to be transferred, one of the cases is resent.

    I must say that I have never follow any system closely or trying to avoid mistakes of other people. Sometimes I even try to repeat a mistake in my own way, just to check the outcome, quite often a bit of twist can even bring positive results.

    1. Carl, I’ve got to be truthful. I know what you’re referencing in your first paragraph, but I have no idea what you’re talking about or referencing in your second. lol Is that just a general comment or are you addressing something specific I said?

      1. Definitely it is not generic, but for sure I didn’t state it clear. As probably will need a page related to my mistakes and deliberate mistakes that I have made in my online business career. Let’s just say that I am doing A-B testing differently – I create 2 separate nearly the same project the first I am taking it “seriously” and for the 2nd I experiment as much as I can.

  3. I’ve come across this type of thing before Mitch and it usually does turn out bad for the person who thinks he’s better than everyone else and show others that by the way he treats them.

    Even when the customer is wrong there is always a right way and wrong way to handle the situation. The right way will increase your popularity and the wrong way will do the exact opposite.

    Oh, one last thing, what the hell is eponymous?

    1. Sire, you remember where the idea from the original story came from since you started it. As for eponymous, it basically means self-named. In other words, the name of the blog is also the name of the guy who wrote the article. lol

      1. Yeah, and I would know that lol.

        You know, there was one time when one of my customers didn’t get what he wanted. There was this guy, back when I had a deli, who came in first thing in the morning wanting 3 pasties. I explained that the ones in the pie warmer were still cold but I could microwave them for him and he said that was OK.

        Later in the day, about 3.30 when we were flat chat, he came back saying they were awful and he wanted his money back. I said not a problem could I please have the pasties to which he replied he ate them. I said that I couldn’t refund the money unless he returned the pasties and he went off his nut. Moron.

      2. Hi Mitch

        Flat chat … makes sense to me :-))) and if we live with treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves should mostly do alright as far as giving good customer service.

        Being rude or nasty doesn’t achieve anything other than alienation by those who do the right thing. I sure don’t respond to either!

        Patricia Perth Australia

      3. Hi Pat; been a long time. I totally agree, I can’t see a reason to be rude to a customer who’s not being rude to you, and even then I’ve never turned the same type of venom back on a customer, although I haven’t always acquiesced the way some people might. But I’ve found that often people respect you more for that than they do when you fix their problems; some folks are strange. lol

  4. You’re right Mitch, this is an important lesson, especially for anyone in the public eye (which, though I’m very new to this world, clearly includes blogging).

    I think Cicero said it before anyone else – I often think back to his very basic principles as the only self-help you’ll ever need. In fact I think you just reminded me that I’d like to write a blog post on Cicero – today.

    1. Glad to be an inspiration Alan. I know I’ll have to come over and see your post on Cicero when you finally have it done. And I hope my story shows that nobody is too big to be brought down if they act like a jerk. 🙂

  5. Great and helpful stories, Mitch! What I felt deep inside (common sense) is just got confirmed by an other person. You can ruin it all if your ego takes over.

    1. You got it right Emelia. It’s okay to be in a position to have the opportunity to have a say in what goes on in the world, but to use that power to bully others is always wrong.

  6. I am absolutely sure that in any case it is necessary to respect others and to pay attention to their opinion, knowing that yours is not the only one. And it will be a positive experience not only for your business, but also for your everyday life. Working with people, you can not ignore them – that is the main rule.

    1. Kate, it’s definitely important to at least make sure you’re not putting someone down for the wrong reasons, the worst of which is to build yourself up, at the expense of possibly being in the wrong. And so public; yup, that’ll kill a business for sure.

  7. Hey Mitch, I’m glad you wrote this. There’s always a way to handle things rather than being condescending and rude.

    With that said, I almost did the same thing late last year. I bought a service and I didn’t really think it was up to snuff. I felt like I knew more than them once I got into the nuts and bolts of it, so I was feeling pretty superior and somewhat PO’d.

    You can ask Mitch Allen about this one, he pretty much calmed me down and said instead of coming at them hard, maybe you should just calmly state your disappointments and then give them some suggestions to help their business hit that next level.

    And you know what, after I thought about it, I realized I don’t have the right to be smug or superior to anyone, and that it just wouldn’t serve any good purpose anyway.

    A lot of people find out the hard way that the “www” really does mean “world wide”. Once it gets out there you can’t put it back in the bottle so you’ve got to always think about how you want to be perceived.

    If you do something awful and it gets picked up on Digg or Reddit you’ve got a real problem on your hands -god help you if it gets picked up on 4chan lol

    1. Great stuff John. You know, I go into every encounter with the expectation that people might be underestimating me; long time history, I’m afraid. I also go into every encounter thinking that it’s going to be positive. But I don’t suffer fools lightly; by that, if someone pulls the attitude thing on me I go for the jugular. I never start it because, as you say and see here, that mess will get you capped, figuratively speaking, if you’re in the wrong. And we know how much I don’t want to be wrong. 😉

  8. Yeah you are right,we learn good lessons from the bad situation we come across.I had many types of customer and nowadays i use to get the mentality of the customer in the first conversation itself.

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