My TV died last night…again.
I didn’t even get mad. Just disappointed. This is the second time in 24 months. After watching a couple of my favorite shows online last night (if you haven’t discovered this on Hulu.com or FXNetworks.com, I strongly encourage you to give it a try), I woke up this morning with this thought.
Every Marketing executive should add a line in his or her annual budget for the holistic value of customer “badwill.” Of course, this is the corollary to customer “goodwill” which is a key ROI measure every marketing executive like me likes to believe we engender by the truckload through our work. Badwill has a very real value to the organization, cause, product or service we market and I think we might make very different decisions at the Senior Staff table if it showed up on a balance sheet like “bad debt” or “bad debt reserve.”
Let me use my very silent TV as an example…as it sits there in the middle of my living room, one tiny little red light still glowing like a very small extended middle finger. I’ve purchased many TVs in my life. One of the first things I did when I got to the University of Kansas and into my freshman dorm room — with the money I was given for food, books, and sundries — was buy a color TV. An RCA color TV. Cost me maybe $350 and it was a huge deal. TVs were indestructible back in the day. When you moved back and forth between home and college, you just threw them in the back seat with your books, beanbag chair, clothes, whatever. Parts broke off and they still worked. You could put things on top of them without offending their delicate sensibilities.
As I moved through various career, domicile and marital stages, my TVs got bigger and better. And more fragile. To me, an electronic appliance is supposed to perform for me, not me for it. So two years ago, another chapter passed and I find myself at Fry’s in Las Vegas. I LOVE Fry’s. Like my Dad loved Sears. But that’s a post for another day.
I knew I wanted 50+ inches of screen and I wanted Hi-Def. The salesman walked me to a corner of the display area and asked me if I’ve thought about a Mitsubishi and 1080p. He showed me a very compelling example of 1080i versus 1080p display clarity and I was sold. He pitched me 13 months of interest-free financing. Again, I was sold. He rang me up…$2,200 and change (BTW, that’s a lot of change for a TV). Delivery in a day. He had engendered my goodwill for the benefit of Fry’s and himself. And this TV was amazing! Incredible picture.
Fast forward 9 months. My Mitsubishi WD-57731 DLP TV is sitting in my living room…dead. I go back to Fry’s…dismayed. After way too much back-and-forth, I learn the lamp in my TV is only designed to run for 3000-4000 hours before it craps out. WTF?! My first color TV lasted for 10 years without a whimper. The good news is the lamp assembly is easy to replace. The bad news is so many of these Mitsubishi TVs have lamps burning out it will be a month to get the part. But they give me a 37-inch loaner set for free and eventually the part shows up and we’re back live on the air again.
Until last night. So I go online to look for a replacement lamp. And I find chat room after chat room rife with words like “class action lawsuit” linked to Mitsubishi and DLP TVs and I start to think…”was there a Senior Staff meeting at Mitsubishi where Marketing, Channel Sales, Engineering, Finance and a decision-maker agreed to market and sell this product even though they knew it would FAIL several times with each customer and they thought this was a GOOD idea?”
If Marketing had a line item in its budget for “badwill” and that debit would have a direct impact on the department’s overall budget for salaries, bonuses, TV ads, promotions, spiffs, events, etc., and there was a possibility that marketing a known defective product and technology might bankrupt their “goodwill” budget…shouldn’t the Chief Marketing Officer or VP of Marketing speak up?
I mentioned earlier the holistic value of badwill. Marketing and selling a bad product hurts your own company. But in the case of this TV, it hurts lots of other related entities…albeit in minute ways…but in ways that have value. To begin, I’ll never buy a Mitsubishi TV again. When I do buy a new TV, I’m not going to trust the salesman is telling me all the truth I need to hear…this hurts Fry’s and that salesman. With a dead TV, I’m not watching any programming, which impacts everyone associated with creating and distributing the content. I’m also not watching any advertising, which impacts every single advertiser, and the station carrying the programming, and the cable provider who pipes it into my home.
Do the math Mr/Ms. CMO/VPM. Marketing is responsible for brand equity, reputation management, and customer goodwill, in addition to sales leads. If no one else in the company will stand up and say selling a known defective product is bad for business, then you do it.
Earn my goodwill by demonstrating you understand its lifetime value.