From top to bottom, from Fortune 500 companies all the way down to “mom & pop” companies, marketing is done wrong far more often that it’s done right. Our latest example of a company (or in this case organization) not marketing itself properly, we look no further than the Chicago White Sox. Prior to his scheduled start against the Detroit Tigers, White Sox All Star Pitcher, Chris Sale, strongly disagreed with the jerseys the team was set to wear for that particular game. Sale, therefore, destroyed the jerseys and rendered them useless for that particular game. As a consequence, Sale was suspended for 5 games and suspended by the White Sox. To many, this may seem like a cut and dry issue (person/employee did something wrong, and company punished employee). However, look deeper. Look much, much, much deeper. For a company like the White Sox (and, yes, let’s call them a company because there are billions of dollars involved in sports and they are money-making machines), my first question or complaint would be in why publicize an act such as this? Most sports organizations/companies understand the value of keeping things “in-house” or “in the locker room”. There are some things that simply aren’t supposed to be released to the public. What would the White Sox gain by publicizing this? The answer is nothing; instead, it’s just the stupidity of a company releasing information to the public that shouldn’t be released. If only the White Sox, as well as other companies that make this type of mistake, would learn that the public does not need to know everything!!! They don’t want to know everything. And airing your dirty laundry publicly is just plain stupid for any company to do!
Second to this, based on the poor decisions the White Sox have made by airing their dirty laundry for no benefit, they have also shown what so many companies suffer from, which is a very, very large distance between the company and the wants & needs of their customers. In today’s business world, we see where companies, especially their marketing departments, are showing the pubic, and most importantly and disappointingly, their customers, that they don’t really understand what their customers want and need. Take the White Sox for example. Here is a team in one of the most popular and populated cities in the world. However, the White Sox are second tier when compared to the Cubs. I grant you that this is a large hurdle to overcome, however, over the past 100 years, the White Sox have been the far more successful team than the Cubs. In fact, the White Sox won the world series in 2005 while the Cubs haven’t won a world series since 1908! Yet still, the Cubs are far more popular than the White Sox…Why? The reason is because the Cubs marketing knows its fan base and doesn’t try to pretend to be something it’s not. They know, compared to the White Sox, their fan base is far more white collar that likes to pretend it’s blue collar. Does the Cubs marketing team deny this from their fan base??? No! They embrace it, the allow them to live it,
and they play into it for them. Most importantly, the Cubs marketing department as well as the team, in general, tends to listen to their customers. Think about this for a second…Here you have a company that shows ongoing success, even though they have only recently become a great team, and it’s all because they listen to their customers. How many times have we seen or heard of a company not listening to its customers and ultimately struggling because of it??? When will companies, and especially marketing departments, learn to not act the part of “know it all” and, instead, simplify things and actually listen to their customers wants and needs and provide them. In general, people are pretty simple. They work hard, they play hard, and they ask for those around them to be honest. Having dealt with plenty of “too many cooks in the kitchen” type marketing departments, I have had the misfortune of seeing how out of touch companies truly are with their customers.
Based on this, if companies just took a lesson from what they see in sports (in this case how far out of touch the White Sox are from their fan base), they can easily see how they can succeed and grow for little to no cost at all. Until companies truly take the time to provide empathy and an open ear to the customers’ needs, expect that the company will ultimately fail.