What The Kirby Company’s Brand Can Teach You About Your Own

I want to make a point about brand integrity and the inherent difficulties of doing business – and why you have to be aggressive about managing your brand online. I will do it by way of this little story:

The guy who sold me this Kirby Heritage II vacuum cleaner in 1988 struck gold that day! Full price, back then – what was it? $1300 in monthly payments, so probably twice that amount in the end. I was too young to know how to bargain. I’ll wager that my sale alone sent that young salesman and his family to Hawaii.

But here’s the thing: it’s 30 years later, and I’m not mad about it.

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I did second-guess myself for quite awhile, I remember. Every time I looked at the massive Kirby vacuum, I threatened it, muttering under my breath: ‘You’d better last the rest of my freakin’ life, buddy!’

But behind the sale, which the salesman had no way of knowing, was the fact that my parents still had the Kirby vacuum cleaner that I grew up with. (In fact, they have it  to this day, in 2018.)

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If mine hiccupped – which in these 30 years has been exactly twice – it got taken to the doctor – and believe it or not those still exist. You can still get parts directly from the company, which is what my folks do – having them shipped speedily to another country where they and their Kirby vacuum cleaner now live. Now that’s the era I was brought up in.

But here’s my point at last: if you look up the Kirby company on the internet, what appears at the top of the feed are complaints. Sales tactics, mostly. Managing that legion of independent salespersons (let’s face it, sales MEN back then) was somebody’s massive headache, and much litigation ensued.

The day I bought mine, I had a baby on my hip and the salesman’s pitch hypnotized me. This machine was going to do everything for me but the dishes! By the time he was done, I was done too – stick a fork in ‘er. Yet if my young husband had come home and gotten sticker shock, we would have been one of those families with buyer’s remorse, calling the company and angrily demanding a refund.

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Yeah, it was a lot of money. But the damn products are aMAzing. They exemplify everything that “American-made” used to stand for. That’s value. That’s absolute brand integrity.

Yet they, too, have their detractors. And that’s what’s live on the web.

How do you manage that? You work hard to deliver great work and serve your customers faithfully. Yet your online presence can be like an undertow, with one bad review that presents new prospects with a bad first impression! That simply will not do!

Reviews and any form of third-party endorsement of your work are critical cues for people making buy decisions for almost all products and services today. Younger shoppers are the most cautious. If you don’t have fans, or any authentic interaction with people, new customers simply will not take a chance on you!

google-76522_960_720At The Allyson Group we can do a quick brand audit and help you build, refine, or control your online presence. You can – in fact, you must! – create your company’s online footprint yourself – and do so in a way that serves clients and prospective customers as well as your brand. Let us show you how.

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