One of the reasons I look slightly brow-beaten in my older years has something to do with my three paper routes I did as a teenager. They all covered the same ground and were mostly uphill. The only other place I’d find as daunting these days – ok, the only place I’d find impossible these days – would be certain quarters of Wheeling.
I suppose it stood me in some kind of good stead as I developed the stamina of a Himalayan mountain goat. You never know, I may still be dancing way into my eighties. The only other thing I learned was how to work for a pittance. If memory serves me right, I received approximately $1.50 (adjusted for exchange rate and inflation) a week and a quarter pound of loose candy – my choice.
But, this is a small fortune compared to teenage Mexican baggers at Walmart. They get zilch. Well, they get tips, but the shoppers need reminding. The other thing that always strikes me about Walmart is the age of their greeters and how they’re the last line of defense against anybody trying to slip out with something they haven’t paid for. One of the last things I’d want my 80 year old granny doing is tackling a crack-addled shoplifter.
There are quite a few other things that could be said about Walmart, but that isn’t the point of the post. Last year saw the great Walmart flog debacle (flog=fake blog). Basically, Edleman PR drummed up a campaign which saw a couple travelling round America and parking their RV at various Walmart carparks along the way. That doesn’t sound too ridiculous other than the whole blog gave the impression that it was legitimate when it was nothing more than one of those public relations stunts.
One of the slight problems was that Edelman were partially responsible for drafting the WOMMA guidelines to transparenc for ethical blogging and marketing practices. In other words, they put their flag to the mast setting out a policy to guard against the very type of thing they then went on to do. Let’s just say there are some reputations that aren’t quite as solid as before.
The vast majority of us aren’t going to be raked over the coals by vast swathes of the blogosphere for being dumb and hypocritical, but expect your customers or readers to understand when they’re being misled. Expect them to mention elsewhere if your product or service hasn’t been up to scratch.
You don’t have to be present on the Web to be spoken about on the Web. There is no immunity. There is no hiding place. Conversely, if you’re doing things right then expect people to be talking about you as well.
Now you may not think you’re worth much as a business, but I’d expect you’d want to confront somebody who may have slighted your business to a colleague in a bar. Or, you may want to be able to chase that prospective warm lead to whom your buddy solicited your services. I’d expect you to want to join similar conversations online if they were taking place, too.
You might not think the time is ripe for you just yet, but you don’t have to be reactive, you can be proactive in your conversations. You can lead the foray into your own online space and set the agenda. There’s no business out there just like you – nobody.
So long as you start off with a bit of integrity, transparency and authenticity, you’ll go a long, long way.