Christopher Evans | Crain's Pittsburgh

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Christopher Evans

Background:  

Savvior (prounounced like savvier) employs a team of application engineers who engage users, connect to data and accelerate business goals through the design and development of customized websites and mobile applications for customers. The company also helps customers with enterprise data management systems.

Mistake:

Putting the brand out before properly understanding the emerging technology or the capabilities of the company.

No matter how great your team or how well you organize a strategic marketing plan, you have to make sure the product or service you are representing lives up to its brand promise. Otherwise, you end of up overpromising and under-delivering.

Earlier in my marketing career, I represented a software development company. The mistake we made was in putting the brand out on the street before we properly understood the emerging technology or the capabilities of the company. We achieved great success from a sales and marketing perspective, but we were unable to fulfill the promises we made when the product was built. The software didn’t work properly.

It’s a classic example of sending customers in for a Cadillac and home with a Chevrolet.

In working with an emerging technology, it's hard to know what you don’t know. We had the talent to build an effective solution, but we never really knew the recipe. There was no cookbook for this situation. We failed to incubate it internally and test it. As a result, we went to market only to find we were making promises that we couldn’t deliver. The brand outpaced reality. People believed and bought from us, but we weren’t delivering after the sale.

Make sure you’re not putting lipstick on a pig.

Lesson:

Make sure you’re not putting lipstick on a pig. The products and services that a marketer sells are only as good as your word. Brand authenticity can only exist when the noises you are making match the market delivery capabilities and the ability to service the customer.

A brand is like a snowball rolling downhill. It gathers momentum and size if you’re doing the right thing. If a product or service doesn’t live up to its promise, the message will outpace the ability of the company to deliver on those promises. It becomes a death spiral. Being brutally honest and authentic with clients is crucial. Total transparency leads to success.

When I left that company, I promised to myself that wherever I went, I would make sure that the brands that I represented were worthy of my marketing prowess and my sales efforts. 

Follow Christopher Evans on Twitter at @savviorweb.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Evans

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