By now you’ve probably heard all about the ridiculous statements made by Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO Mike Jeffries. OK – let’s remove emotion from this scenario. (I’m taking off my fat pants and putting on my business hat.)
I get it. From a marketing angle, he has a target audience and target customer. As business owners, we MUST MUST MUST talk to our target audience. He (and the company) have core values and they are creating a culture based on those values (misguided as they may seem.) And, while the A&F ads always made it pretty clear who their target customer is and what their core values are, this new messaging from the horse’s mouth has made it crystal.
But, here’s the thing… here is where marketing can get ugly…
In an effort to talk to your target audience, don’t alienate your non-target audience.
This is fascinating to me. Before this week, this company rarely entered my brain. I am not its target customer and I don’t want to be. And, there are many companies that don’t carry my style, color, size, fit, and so on. I would never expect (nor want) everyone to cater their products (or services) to me. Every business has a target audience/customer and a niche. I’m happy to let our different styles and tastes live exclusively of each other.
But – in trying to attract their target client, A&F has alienated a lot of people. These are people who won’t have anything to do with the company forever – and may have not cared one way or another about them before this. A&F may not need these people as customers, but they may need to have relationships with them as employees, as brand partners, as marketing partners, and so on. The bad juju is OUT and it will haunt them.
Wedding Pros… think about this as you market your business…
1.) You have a target audience and target customer.
2.) You have business core values. (For those of you that have come to The Simple Plan workshop, this is your mission statement.)
3.) You have a niche (something that you do awesome and different that your customers love.)
4.) You need to communicate your core values and niche to your target audience with every ounce of your branding mojo.
BUT (big BUT), in the process of communicating this consistently, don’t be a jerk. Yeah, yeah… we usually play nice in this industry. But, there are subtleties at play that can be offensive. Here are some examples…
… that photographer that does a completely different style of photography than your clients go for… you keep blowing her off at networking events.
… the tire-kicking emails that you get from low-budget brides hoping to snag a deal… you don’t respond.
… the wording on your blog that attempts to reach an elite client (which is your target audience) but alienates your colleagues.
… a general air that you can’t be bothered by “the little people” if they don’t match your target clientele, or target partnership.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
ALWAYS be kind.
ALWAYS be honest and direct, but kind.
You don’t have to be friends with everyone (OR do business with everyone) but you do have to be kind.
You can still be REALLY AWESOME in your business (and rise the entrepreneurial ladder) AND also be kind.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you had the A&F experience happen within our industry? (I’m not talking weight-ism. I’m talking about core values of a company that conflict with yours.) I know it happens – but we aren’t always so free to share. Share your thoughts below in a comment.