Have you ever received terrible service at a 5-Star Restaurant? Have you ever been told that the special promo you saw actually only exists for specific customers who come in between X and X o’clock? Have you ever seen a product that you loved, only to buy it and find out that the cool feature it is supposed to have isn’t actually real? That’s because marketers and advertisers don’t care about the follow through.

Today, the sure-fire way to get your company and brand noticed is with a creative marketing or advertising campaign. The old-school ways of doing business are no longer sufficient as the primary method to get customers. We’ve all seen the results of companies working with these Social Media Gurus and Public Relations firms. We see it every day on Twitter and Facebook, on the television, and (decreasingly so) in print. In fact, Facebook recently launched a new site to highlight these campaigns called the Developer Showcase.

All of these campaigns share one thing in common, they focus on making the company look good through print, online, and social channels. They have flashy graphics, use celebrities, make eye-catching statements, and tell you that they care about your response to make you feel included. If you want to create buzz about a company, all of those things are needed. Hooking you in is what an advertiser or marketing guru does best. What they’re not good at is making the same statements and beliefs touted in campaigns transferable to company culture.

Domino's Example

This is one example of follow-through. Domino's latest marketing campaign encourages customers to give them feedback on their new chicken. The question is, how do they get this feedback? The collection of this data has become a joke in many forums and comics: "Where do they get my response? Do they go dumpster diving in my trash?". The reality is that Domino's includes a link on the box that encourages users to go online and fill a survey out or talk about it on Twitter. The marketing sure gets people talking, but most of the comments are negative about the chicken. If Domino's was really listening, then from users responses they could 1) Lower the price of the chicken 2) Change the recipe or 3) Just step aways from chicken all together. Don't talk a big game unless you have what it takes to back it up.

Recently, a medical practice my firm provides business development consulting to started putting some feelers out for a Public Relations and Marketing firm. The PR firm we were looking to hire had to help us find a way to translate the practice’s core values to current patients and a desired new customer base. When I got the proposals back from some of the companies we put the feelers out to, I was slightly dumbstruck. What the practice needed was a targeted, local campaign that would also provide steps and easy practices for internal communications that doctors and nurses could follow to form better relationships with the patients they already have. Yet, all the PR firms wanted to do was get the practice’s advanced methods featured in newspapers and TV. Not one proposal told the practice how they could build better internal communications to make sure that the patients knew, and would actually receive, what they were promised in these marketing campaigns.

The point of that story is simply to highlight the fact that most of the marketing and advertising companies out there make no effort to help companies back up what they preach in marketing. This is one of the reasons why public relations for BP failed miserably. No matter what company you are, if you preach something to your customers or other businesses you work with, you BETTER make sure the customer actually gets what they were told they would get when they come to your business or use your product. You BETTER make sure that from the top down – CEO to HR to Sales Reps to Accounting to Facility Management or CEO to HR to Waiters at restaurant – that everyone is upholding company values and standards. Everyone must be trained in how to represent your company effectively. Think about it…if you are an airline like American Airlines, if a customer invests in you, they might have made that choice through Facebook, but after interacting there the first person they will interact with is your representative at the ticket counter. Every employee that interacts with a customer is your brand ambassador and the face of your company. It is these employees who will ultimately ruin a brand, or makes it worth praising.

* Disclaimer: There are some very lovely PR and marketing firms, or solo PR/Marketing pros that CAN and DO follow through effectively. In my opinion though, they are in the minority.