Today’s post is written by Sarah Lougee who works here at Visible Logic. Sarah helps us with a wide variety of tasks: Nearly everything that is not specifically design.
This morning I attended the Social Media Breakfast here in Portland, Maine and Peter Shankman was the keynote speaker. I have been using HARO, and generally following Peter for quite some time, so I was thrilled to get the chance to see him in person. As I was looking around for a place to park, I passed him walking towards the venue. He looked, well, downtrodden. I knew that he just got back from his honeymoon, so I chalked it up to that I’m-back-from-vacation-and-it’s-such-a-drag thing. But during the introductions from sponsors and the talk from the other speaker, I was watching Peter, and honestly, I thought he looked miserable. He didn’t appear to be listening or even trying to pay attention. At one point he got up and left the room to take a phone call, and when he came back he kind of hid in the doorway out of sight of the speaker. I felt my admiration begin to slip a little. Maybe he’s not what I thought. Maybe he’s going to turn out to be just another jerk who’s really good at self promotion.
Then it was his turn to speak. I instantly saw that this was his thing. He was funny and engaging. He told jokes that we could all relate to, he swore like a regular person, and he made fun of himself just enough. He did all this while making completely valid points about social media and marketing, like that helping people is the new self promotion. He talked about how if you have to tell people how awesome you are, then you aren’t. That really resonated with me. The balance between self-confidence and arrogance has always seemed especially tricky to me. He talked about how the nature of customer service is changing; how now it’s not the number of contacts/friends/members you have that’s important, but what you can do for them. If you focus on doing amazing things for the ones you already have, they’ll always refer you and get you tons more business. And on the flip side of that, no one will ever recommend someone that they’ve had a negative interacton, or worse-no interaction, with. I liked his views, especially when he stressed, over and over again, that you must brand everything you do, or someone will claim it as their own.
What I realized after it was over was that Peter perfectly illustrated to me his own points probably without even realizing it. Coming into the conference, I had a totally positive view of Peter, but as soon as I saw him not acting the part, I was ready to cut him loose. I saw him as a brand, and when his actions didn’t match my idea of the brand, I was ready to not believe in it. Luckily I got the chance to see him in action and was able to get back on board with him, but what if I hadn’t ? I would have been done with Peter Shankman, maybe even HARO. And what if the other conference goers had the same experience? That could have a serious negative impact. Being true to your brand, and following through with the new rules of customer service is key to maintaining and growing your customer base.