We have noticed an increase in negative marketing tactics, and we’re not convinced they are a good thing. We don’t believe negativity is the best way to inspire a potential customer to buy your brand. There seems to be a growing trend online, to use negative press as a ‘stepping-stone’ toward tapping into a larger audience.
The logic behind this move, apparently, is to harness the traffic that is looking for the negative news, to re-direct them toward more positive statements. That makes some sense, and is a fairly logical approach when used within a reputation management context, especially after a problem. However, deliberately continuing to use that negative perception in order to attract visits or hits will only perpetuate the negativity, ultimately attaching that negative knowledge or belief to a brand for the rest of its existence.
Here is a fictional example based upon a real case study, where we were approached by a company that had used this negative approach to the detriment of its brand.
A retailer was selling a product which turned out to be faulty. This caused a huge problem with a large percentage of its customer base complaining on social media and to the press. Unfortunately the company was advised to use the negative PR in the form of specific negative keywords, to attract searchers online.
While this approach did initially boost the numbers of people visiting the site, after two months, the company could see that the sales were continuing to drop. So, they decided to invest in PPC and advertising online, again using the negative keywords associated with the original bad PR story.
To cut a long and painful story short, after six months, the company finally removed all the negative marketing content that was continuing to perpetuate the story, shut down its website, closed its entire social media offering, and then approached us for assistance to start again.
We are not trying to encourage companies experiencing bad PR to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. Far from it, in fact we would strongly advise against this approach. What we want to illustrate is how dangerous the ‘negative band wagon’ can be to a brand, for a very long time. The sooner the negativity is left in the past, where it belongs, the sooner a brand can start to rebuild its reputation and trust amongst its customers. Look at any PR covering a scandal with a celebrity. If you do some research, you will find their PR people do all they can to deflect, not attract attention toward the negative.
We believe that businesses online should take this same approach. Business today can be cut-throat and highly competitive, why give your competition the advantage by helping to perpetuate a negative belief about you, your brand, or your company?
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