Friday, May 22, 2009
Everybody, I’d like you to say hello to General Motors. This is their first time here, and we should make them feel welcome. General, you can go and sit over there beside Bank of America. No… not there. Please don’t sit with Chrysler. They’ve been disruptive ever since they started hanging around with those Europeans.
Bear Sterns, you can just stop snickering right now, or leave. Don’t make me call your parole officer.
Now, then. Before we begin, let’s all stand and with hand on heart recite our creed:
“We can’t do business if everybody in the world is mad at us.”
(Capital One, that’s not where your heart is. How many times have we been through this?)
Today, for the benefit of the newcomers in the group, I’d like to review the 12 steps we’ve each committed ourselves to on the path towards a new life as a sustainable business. If each of you does these things, your brand has a chance at a happy, prosperous future. And if you don't, then your paths shall be to the same ignominy as the ShamWow guy. Now, can someone lend General Motors a pen? Okay, here we go...
1. Admit there is a problem. Nobody is going to believe it’s business as usual if you keep stumbling home late at night stinking of taxpayer’s money. Confession is good for the soul.
2. Admit there is a power greater than yourself. And that power is the marketplace. No customers means no business, bucko, no matter who your tailor is.
3. Make a decision to turn your brand around. You don’t want to restore things to the way they were, and you never can. Decide to be better than that.
4. Take inventory of yourselves, honestly and fearlessly. Your license to compete in this marketplace depends on the truth of who you are, not on whatever fiction your ad agency and PR consultants create.
5. Admit to yourself and your stakeholders the exact nature of your wrongs. If your customers know that you see what they’ve seen all along, you have common ground and a chance at a fresh start.
6. Be willing to change. Whosoever is attached to the past or the status quo, cast them out. There are plenty of squeegees to go around.
7. Humbly ask the CEO to remove your shortcomings. Even if one of them is the CEO. Change can only come from the top.
8. Make a list of all whom you have harmed, and make amends. If someone is still a customer after all you’ve done, they aren’t fools. They’re precious gifts. Don’t take them for granted.
9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible. The loyal customer you reward will have greater and more enduring value to you than the prospect you buy in desperation.
10. Continue to take inventory of your character, and when you’re wrong promptly admit it. The conversation you have to start with your marketplace now can never end. A return to silence will be judged harshly.
11. Seek through meditation and listening to improve your contact with the Supreme Being. That being the tribe of consumers who pay your bills.
12. Having had this spiritual awakening, carry this message to other lost brands and their leadership. Set an example. Such conversations may be the only truly noble reason to play golf.
Alrighty, then. I think that’s just about all the time we have for tonight. There’s lemonade at the back if you’d care for a refreshment, and AIG has baked us all some lovely muffins.
By the way, there's a jet in the parking lot with its lights left on. Let me know if you need to borrow my jumper cables.