Marketing Among Pirates
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Caught Between A Rock And An Angry Community

Lowes-stores-closings-2011When I first started working with one of my clients, I had a friend in the social media business who asked me why I wanted to take on a brand that was regularly bashed by so many influencers.  I however, loved the challenge.  I knew the clients could do better, wanted to be better and I knew what we had to do to establish trust, credibility and relevancy with our target community.  Several months later, this approach bore fruit.

Lowe's hasn't had the easiest couple of weeks.  Out of left field, their media buying - something that nobody other than agency people even think about - is suddenly cause for national media coverage and thousands of angry Facebook fans.  Here's the bottom line: decisions were made.  And now Lowe's has to live with those decisions, and the pushback that will come with it.  You can't unmake those decisions or convince the offended public on either side of the debate that the other is correct.  It's a catch 22.

I have always been taught to worry about those items that I can change, and accept those that I can't.  This is the golden rule of crisis management.

The best way for any brand (including Lowe's) to recover is by marching back to first place.  Make those you have wronged feel right as best you can, and then get on with your show.  Demonstrate that you care about your community by engaging them in articulate and meaningful actions and conversations behind the gates with your employees, at retail and online with your customers.  Double down on your core value propositions, such as in-store customer service and a pleasant retail experience.  Focus on your internal culture, creating recognition and rewards for employees and stores that demonstrate your core values.  Most importantly, adapt these core values and value propositions for your broader audience, offering this same level of friendliness and easy to access experiences in your social channels. Go back to showing and telling the world about the things that made your great in the first place.

Believe it or not, a single crises does not define a brand or a brand experience.  As much as those deeply engaged in PR or Social Media want to highlight the hell that is surrounding them right now, it's important that key decisions include a strategy for getting past the past.  A lifetime of inputs go into how the public views and interacts with brands.  One black eye should not keep a good brand down.  Get your ship in order, focus on what makes you you, and make it even better.

Because you can't keep worrying about The Daily Show forever.