There’s a new, deadlier social virus coming out of the pandemic. It’s appropriately named “Mediocrity.” Hopefully you haven’t caught it, but chances are you’ve experienced it, because it’s finding its way into every business sector you can imagine.
I recently experienced it at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. What once was the icon for elegance, quality and service has been diminished to a skeleton of what once was.
The management at Caesar’s was absolutely okay with the fact that many guests could not get clean towels during their stay. Forget anything special; the casino could not provide the most basic of expectations.
Everyone I spoke with during my stay experienced the same. What once was inconceivable was now the norm at this iconic property. Everyone on staff was okay with it.
How is this possible?
We can blame the labor shortage that practically every business is experiencing. But blame is always a scapegoat. And had I not just one week later stayed at the W Hotel in Bellevue, WA, I might have bought into the scapegoat. But the W Hotel had the same issues, and they nailed it. They not only provided the basics, they went above and beyond and even had amazing 24-hour room service!
So, what’s going on? The pandemic of mediocrity is infecting every weak brand in the country, from small mom and pop businesses to major global corporations.
All companies are facing the same challenges, yet some are accepting that consumers are okay with mediocrity, and making that their new threshold. Others are adapting, figuring out not just how to uphold their brand, but enhance it.
So, what’s differentiating the adapters from the scapegoats? It all starts at the top.
The bottom-line strategy
This is the mistaken idea that consumers are okay with diminished quality. Companies that take this route think they can fatten their bottom-lines by using the pandemic labor shortage as an excuse. Some are using it to their advantage and selling the same product or service at the same price, while attributing less expense for greater margins.
While this is a profitable short-term fix, it ignores the most fundamental part of business: the brand. The bottom-line strategy option erodes the brand to an unsalvageable state.
The real opportunity
This is the time to win market share. When every company is operating at its best, it’s difficult to stand out. But as more businesses embrace mediocrity, a company with great service or product shines. Invest in brand excellence, and win consumer loyalty.
Caesar’s Palace didn’t offer room service. The W Hotel did, and even though it was delivered in a brown bag with plastic utensils and paper napkins, the food was delicious. More than that – we got it quickly, making a low-end delivery of paper goods extraordinary. If something or someone makes you feel special, it’s extraordinary.
People remember how you made them feel more than anything else. Our experience at Caesar’s was so bad that caring people and basic service at the W ensured that we would return there and never visit Caesar’s again. Consumers are going to experience a great product or service and compare it to the last mediocre experience they had, and the difference will be so apparent, they will shift their brand loyalty completely.
This brings us back to the most important part of your business: your brand.
Your brand is the total of everything your business does, says, produces and demonstrates. It’s every experience at every moment in every part of your company. It’s the ability to meet your company’s promise consistently. It’s what every person says about your company. It's everything indeed.
Ric Militi is CEO/executive creative director, InnoVision Marketing Group.