What We Can Learn From Charlie Sheen

Admit it, you’ve been following the Charlie Sheen debacle.  Even those of us who don’t “do” pop culture have tuned in to see what will happen next.  I’ll admit it — I’ve followed the tiger blood-filled warlock on Twitter “just to see.”Back in December we talked about DecorMyEyes and their founder’s negative publicity campaign.  Charlie Sheen’s recently train wrecked life is, in a way, a bigger, louder version of the same strategy.  So what can we learn from Charlie Sheen? 

Publicity is publicity. When it comes down to it, if what you want is for people to know and remember you, how you draw their attention is irrelevant.  Good or bad, if your publicity is enough to draw the eyes of the world, you’ve accomplished your goal.

Negative publicity is more effective. At least when it comes to getting attention.  I guarantee you that more people know Charlie Sheen now than before his breakdown.  Recently Sandra Bullock has been in the news for donating $1M to recovery efforts around the world.  It’s a beautiful act for which she deserves recognition — and yet, had she been caught in some compromising position, it would be all over every news channel and media source and everyone in the world would know about it.  That’s just the way of the world.  People love to watch train wrecks.  Think about reality TV shows.  People don’t watch Jersey Shore because it’s quality entertainment.  Even with specific regard to social media, when a company accidentally sends out an unprofessional tweet, it’s all over the news — and gains them more followers.

Negative publicity will kill your business. Or will it?  When all this stuff with Charlie Sheen started happening, I thought, “That man will never work again.”  And yet, here he is with a new TV show in the works.  When it came out and was all over the news that Taco Bell uses questionable meat, I thought, “Surely people will stop eating there.”  But no.  As contrary to reason as it may be, it just doesn’t work that way.  Taco Bell is running a damage control campaign to recover from the debacle, and it’s working brilliantly.

But what does any of this have to do with building a business with customers who trust you and believe in your quality product or service?  Maybe it’s a tactic for you to try.  While I wouldn’t recommend it, I’d be interested to see the results.  More likely, though, it’s just good information about the way the world of publicity works!

What do you think — is Charlie Sheen’s train wreck of a life a true breakdown or a brilliant marketing ploy?  Would you ever use negative publicity to garner attention?

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The Wrong Way To Do Customer Service — Or Is It?

DecorMyEyes uses negative publicity to build brandI read an article in The New York Times online recently (you can read it here) about a company called DecorMyEyes.  This company basically takes orders for high end, brand name glasses on their website, then finds them on EBay and buys them to fill their customers’ orders.  While this company has very few SEO efforts in place to promote their site online, you’ll find it very near the top of the organic search results when you go hunting high end eyeglasses.  Go ahead, try it.  Type “Christian Audigier” and “glasses” into Google and see what you come up with.  DecorMyEyes.com is the #5 result.

So, with very little SEO in place, what marketing strategy gives the company such fantastic results?  Apparently, the answer is negative marketing.  Vitaly Borker, owner of DecorMyEyes, offers exceptionally poor customer service, often involving threats of litigation and bodily harm.  Often, his customers seek resolution in online forums, such as GetSatisfaction.com.  And because there are so many irate people talking about his company online, his search results improve.  Yes — to the point of being on the top of the first page in Google’s organic search results.

It’s a really unbelievable story, and absolutely worth reading the NYT article — all eight pages of it — but it also raises some questions.  Is this a viable marketing strategy?  Is it sustainable?  In what ways can Google, Ebay, credit card companies, and others involved in this situation improve their services to better safeguard their customers?

UPDATE:  As of Wednesday afternoon (December 1st), Google has announced changes to its search algorithm, such that it will now take into account negative online merchant reviews in its ranking system.  What do you think of that?

I want to know what you think — sound off in the comments!

Change The Way You Think About Marketing

Social media marketing is not about selling your product or service — it’s about building relationships.  In a world where consumers are constantly bombarded with advertisements, and we’ve all been warned about how many ads online are scams, people tend to look right past obvious social media marketing attempts.  Think about it — if you were to stumble upon a Twitter account where the user tweeted advertisements 20 times a day, would you go out of your way to get those tweets?  Probably not.

Social media users are looking for connection.  After all, that’s the whole point of social media.  Social media users want you to talk to them.  They want you to listen to them.  They want you to tell them interesting things and entertain them.  They want to tell you who they are and offer you their expertise.  They want honest, authentic interaction — and then they want to buy your product or use your service because they know you, they trust you, and they like you.  This leads to an extremely loyal customer base.

Are your social media marketing efforts aligned to this way of thinking?  Is this a new way of thinking about marketing for you?  What are you doing now?  What’s working and what isn’t?  We want to know — sound off in the comments!

 

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