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You’d love if people paid above and beyond your competition to get your product or work with your business. What wouldn’t feel great about someone saying they’d be happy to pay more to work with you?

But what if they said the opposite?

What if someone said they were more than happy to pay extra to not buy your product?

That would feel, well, a little less great.

In today’s show, we’ll talk about how to identify problems that would cause people to want to avoid your brand, and how to address the issue of conflicting values between you and your target customers.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • People pay extra to avoid you when their values are actively opposite to yours.
  • The culture of a brand stems from the leadership, the management and the vision-casters.
  • You’re going to attract certain people, and there will be others who are not attracted to what you do.
  • You can’t effectively reach a certain audience if your actions and values as a brand are in conflict with the values of that audience.
  • The more you make a divisive issue a repeated public statement, the more you’ll alienate the people who don’t agree.
  • There are people that disagree with you, and that’s okay.
  • Consider the consequences, both positive and negative, before you try to push something you believe or find important.
Show Notes
  • 03:14 Kyle: I think the title plays really well into this show, because if you’re doing things that make people want to go elsewhere, you probably don’t understand that you’re doing that.
  • 03:28 Cory: We often talk about the opposite side of things. In our shows, we might do something like, Why People Will Pay Extra to Use You Exclusively. “Why would someone pay an additional $500 for you when they could get it cheaper somewhere else?” We usually take that spin, but this show actually came from a moment I had earlier this week.

Values

  • 03:58 Cory: My wife and I are doing various traveling things this year, and we were looking at some tickets for a trip we’re taking in May, over our sabbatical, and she’s looking at tickets and she says, “Hey Cory, I found some tickets that we can get, and it’s about $250 cheaper if we go with this particular airline.” The airline was Ryanair. If you live in Europe, you’ll know that Ryanair has a brand reputation of being at the lower end of airlines, airline service, and customer service.
  • 04:48 Because they have such a low emphasis on a lot of the stuff that they do, they charge less. It’s like, “Oh, we could get tickets for a couple hundred bucks.” With Ryanair from Dublin to London, it’s between 20 and 40 euro. That’s to fly from one country to another. You look at that and you go, “Oh my gosh, that’s so amazing. I could jump right on over there.”
  • 05:16 There are loads of issues with Ryanair. In regards to what they charge for, they’ll nickel and dime you, for sure. “Oh, you have longer hair? That will be an extra 40 euro. Oh, you want to have a seatbelt? That will be an extra 100 euro. You want a chair? You want to sit down on the plane? That will be expensive.”
  • 05:47 They have this whole system. It’s pretty ridiculous, but a lot of people use them because they’re a discount, lower-end cost airline. At this particular moment, I had almost literally just finished reading an article that was published here in Ireland about a week and a half ago, end of February, about a woman who was flying from Dublin to London and was in a wheelchair. She needed special help to get onto the plane, but because she hadn’t booked wheelchair assistance, she hadn’t added that and paid for that, the people at the gate refused to help her onto the plane.
  • 06:39 They said later on, “She got there a little bit late. She didn’t book wheelchair assistance. If she had showed up on time, maybe we would have helped her.” Their response was them shifting blame. They didn’t take responsibility. They put her on a later flight and said, “Yeah, we took care of her later,” but she was with a group of friends, and they had to go ahead of time.
  • 07:06 The pilot was like, “We need to go, what’s going on? Why can’t we leave?” They were like, “There’s someone here at the gate.” The pilot said, “We have to take off, so it sucks to suck.” It became this really big thing. I had just finished reading that, and it was kind of the final straw for me. All you have to do is google “Ryanair horror stories,” and you’ll read things about people showing up on time but not checking out a certain thing so they’re charged an extra $45.
  • 07:47 Or, you’re on the plane, but they sit on the tarmac for four hours with a problem and no air conditioning. There’s all this stuff, and they’re shifting blame. It has become part of their brand. In 2014, Ryanair passengers called the police during an 11 hour delay. It was messy. I had been on edge about Ryanair for so long, but then I read this article. I said to Kristiana, “I will literally pay another $200 to not use Ryanair.”
  • 08:33 That’s the truth. We looked and we found another airline that I much prefer. That’s the point. In that moment, it wasn’t that I liked this other airline. It was that I would gladly, happily, pay extra money, another $200 to $250 to specifically avoid that brand. I don’t want to give them my money. I don’t want to support them. It feels weird to name them by name. That’s what it comes down to.
  • What is the moment when someone says, “I’ll pay extra to avoid that company?”

  • 09:33 Kyle: That’s such a good example. On the company’s end, I don’t know that there’s any brand out there, any company, that wants to lose people like that. That’s an interesting thing we’re going to get into soon. What causes this? You hear the stories. This is a story after the fact. After they treated someone poorly, you hear about that story and then you start to think, “Maybe I don’t want to go with this particular brand.”
  • 10:13 What got them there in the first place? Why did they even make that decision? Why was this ever even a story? I was joking a little while ago that they charge for oxygen when the plane is going down.
  • 10:48 Cory: We laugh, but this is what I associate with that brand.
  • When people pay extra to avoid you, it’s not necessarily that they don’t like you, but their values are actively opposite to yours.

  • 11:08 There are other reasons, for sure, but I think that’s the number one reason why people would pay extra to avoid you. It’s that their values are actively opposite to yours. I look at a company like Ryanair and I think, “Why isn’t their staff trained to go above and beyond for their customers?” Okay, she shows up late. She’s in a wheelchair, but she hasn’t booked wheelchair assistance. Guess what? Go above and beyond, and take that story about the company that you work for or the brand you’re training your employees to represent, and make it a positive one.
  • 11:43 Imagine if I had read that article and it was like, “Ryanair goes out of their way, goes against their brand history, and helps out someone who needs wheelchair assistance even though it was inconvenient.” I would have gone. “That’s interesting. I didn’t expect that from Ryanair, but that’s nice.” Instead, I’m sitting here going, “That’s just gross.” That’s opposite to my values.
  • 12:08 My values are that you help the customer, you help the person. We’re about people here. We’re about creating a better world for each other and for ourselves through positive action. That’s not what they’re showing me their values are when they do these kinds of things.

Ethics

  • 12:31 Kyle: This is about missed opportunities. Like you said, Cory, that could have been a different situation. It came down to how the employees handled their rules. The fault of the upper management is that they haven’t said, “Treat the customer right. We have these rules in place, but don’t follow them blindly.” That’s not an established thing within the company. I’ve heard of other companies that say, “We have these rules in place. We don’t want you to break them, but if it’s in the best interest of the person you’re helping to not do these things, you’re in charge of understanding and doing that.”
  • 13:20 You have some power here. You’re not just going to blindly follow what we say. There’s an opposite problem that’s not employees having trouble with how to treat customers, or whatever it is, but it’s the upper management’s fault. One example I wanted to give was Uber. They’ve been in the news a lot lately, and there are a lot of different things. As far as why people would pay to avoid your brand, it goes beyond some of the ethical things that have been circulating lately with the way Uber treats employees within their company. Susan Fowler recently had this big thing about…
  • 14:17 Cory: Systematic sexism within the organization, within employee and management and the inner workings of Uber.
  • 14:25 Kyle: That affects their perception heavily. There was a video yesterday or the day before of an Uber driver giving the CEO of Uber a ride somewhere. When they stopped and he was about to get out, the driver has this built up frustration, because they’ve been lowering their rates for the drivers. They’ve been slashing prices to compete with taxi companies. The driver was saying, “I can hardly afford to do this anymore, but because I’m a…” I think one of their premium services is Uber Black?
  • 15:16 Cory: Yeah, Uber Black. It’s more of the high end, you get a Mercedes or a Limo, stuff like that.
  • 15:24 Kyle: Apparently, I don’t know how the whole system works, but he had to invest into purchasing that car to be a driver. He’s saying, “I’m in $100,000 of debt right now. I can’t pay that off, because I don’t make enough to justify doing this, but if I stop doing this right now, I can’t continue.” Someone could look at that and say, “The driver has responsibility to leave and pay off his debts. If he’s really that concerned, he could stop being an Uber driver and do something different.” Whatever.
  • 16:00 There are ways he could take care of that. But the CEO wasn’t compassionate towards him. He was like, “Well, I’m sorry about that.” Then he started going on, justifying why they lowered rates, and how they have to be super competitive with their pricing and all these things. The driver was taking a premium route, which we typically take here, of saying, “If we charged more, I think people would respect that more because they’re getting a premium service, not a taxi.”
  • 16:37 People typically use Uber because they don’t want to take a taxi. It was this back and forth, and instead of listening, taking things in, and saying, “I’m really sorry you’re in this position.” Maybe even, for the sake of PR, saying, “Why don’t we help you out?”
  • 16:54 Cory: “Give me a call. Give me your number.”
  • 16:56 Kyle: Something! Instead, he argued. The driver was very upset about his current situation, and the CEO basically said, “Sorry about that,” and got out of the car and left.
  • 17:08 Cory: It wasn’t even, “Sorry about that.” He ended it by saying, “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for themselves and for their own problems.” He was basically saying, “Well, this is all your problem. See ya.” And he left. That’s how he ended it. It was crazy.
  • 17:25 Kyle: In the case of Uber, most of the issues that have surfaced are based around upper management and the way they’re handling things. It’s a good reverse-roll example. With Ryanair, I don’t know. I think a lot of issues start at the top. There’s a possibility that, in the situation you mentioned, even, maybe upper management wouldn’t have handled it that way. Maybe their intention isn’t for their employees to act that way.
  • 17:57 It happens. I’ve worked at fast food restaurants, and I know the way the employees acted there wasn’t how our management wanted them to act. It’s possible that things slip through the cracks like that.
  • In the case of Uber, the upper management is doing something that’s pushing people away, rather than the employees.

  • 18:22 We could get into details and semantics. They’re contracted, or whatever, but the point is, the people providing the service aren’t the ones under scrutiny right now. It’s the upper management.

Who Are You Alienating & Why?

  • 18:32 Cory: Interestingly, after this all blew up, the CEO, Travis Kalanick, came out and issued an apology. He said, “I need to fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’m willing to admit that I need leadership help, and I intend to get it.” It almost seems like something like this had to happen, but that demonstrates this truth:
  • The culture of a brand stems from the leadership, from the management and the vision-casters.

  • 19:20 The point we really want to get to is that, at the end of the day, you’re going to alienate people. That’s fine. That’s business. That’s part of the game. Maybe “alienate” isn’t the right word, but you’re going to attract certain people, and there will be others who are not attracted to what you do. The question you have to ask yourself is, who are the people you’re alienating? What are the things people are avoiding you for, and are you okay with that?
  • 19:49 Are people avoiding you because you cost a certain amount? Because you have a certain political leaning? Because they don’t like you as a person? Or maybe your products are just terrible. Maybe that’s why they’re alienating you. I backed something on Indiegogo over a year ago, and it took forever for the product to get made. I had actually forgotten that I had backed this thing.
  • 20:23 It was like $160 or something like that. It was for this smart workout in your home thing. It looked cool at the time, and I was like, “Yeah, when I move to Ireland and I’m not close to a gym, I can use this stuff close to my home and I can track it.” They contacted me earlier this week, and they were like, “It’s going to be an extra $60 to ship it to you. Do you want to still do it, or should we refund you?”
  • 20:54 I was like, “Let’s go with the refund. That’s great.” I look at that, and I don’t have a problem with their company. They’re not losing me as a customer because I disagree with them on some fundamental level. They’re losing me as a customer because they didn’t ship it to me in time and now it’s going to take an extra $60, so I’ll end up paying over $200 for this thing. I’m not really interested in that.
  • 21:34 In that case, that’s fine. That’s business. There will be customers who want to do something else or who want a refund, and that’s fine. The question becomes, are you alienating the people you’re trying to reach? Let’s say you have a target audience, a target customer, and what you do, your actions and your values, are actively opposite to the people you’re trying to reach. Why are you doing that?
  • If you’re trying to reach a certain audience but your actions and values as a brand are different, you won’t be able to effectively help those people.

  • 22:25 In fact, that doesn’t make any sense. Why would you have differing values and a different worldview from the people you’re trying to reach? It’s interesting, but you have to ask these questions. “What is behind the reason why people would actively avoid me?”

Divisive Issues

  • 22:46 Kyle: You have to understand that the choices you make, the things you decide to make public in relation to the brand, are going to have consequences. It’s okay if they do. It’s okay if you’re prepared for that. I won’t name names here, because it’s not relevant, but there’s a designer in the design community that I’ve followed for a long time. I really like their work.
  • 23:18 Recently, they’ve moved towards political propaganda. Pretty much everything I see from this person is politically fueled. That’s great. They’re standing up for what they believe in and what they want to see happen in the world, and I’m not putting down that they have that view. The thing is, there will be consequences for that. Number one, there are people that don’t agree with what that person is portraying or pushing with their brand.
  • 23:57 Also, relatability. I’ve noticed in the comments of a lot of the things they post that a big chunk of their audience is not from the US, and all of the political things are solely based in US political issues. Many people there are like, “Why do I care about this?” I’ve literally seen people say that. “I don’t know why I should follow you anymore. It’s not an issue to me and I’m not there. I’m not going to buy this print you’re selling because it’s not even my country.” That’s totally understandable. Maybe they’ve evaluated this and they understand that that will happen.
  • In many cases, we try to push something we believe or find important and we don’t consider the consequences.

  • 24:54 Is that really relevant to my brand? Is that going to help people or divide people more in a negative way that I don’t intend to have happen? Me, for example. I don’t really push political things. I don’t ever talk about politics with my brand or almost at all, because I don’t see that as a healthy dividing factor. I know people from all different perspectives, and I appreciate that they have perspectives and they want to see things happen. Evaluate that.
  • Is it worth tearing apart your audience over issues that may not even really relate to your brand, that are more personally fueled?

  • 25:54 Cory: Doing that kind of thing might be exactly what you’re going for. Then you’re like, “Maybe the people I want to reach out to are in this segmented world, where we’re all very like-minded and we have a common theme, a common message.” People alienated by that aren’t really the people you want to reach. They aren’t the ones you’re wanting to focus on. That’s okay. Maybe your brand is all about the ethical treatment of animals.
  • 26:34 Let’s say that all of the stuff you create and all of the content you put out is related to the ethical treatment of animals, and there are other people who are like, “I like to eat them.” Maybe you’re trying to reach out to the people who are with you in that and you’re trying to sell them a product or connect with them.

Understand the Consequences

  • 26:58 Cory: It all comes back to being authentic. Being authentic is having values and acting out those values in your practices. You’re not just saying that you believe something, but you’re saying you believe something and then actually acting within those values. Virginia asked, “How would you feel if the person used a separate platform or account to share those pieces and keep their primary page unaffiliated?” What are your thoughts there, Kyle?
  • 27:26 Kyle: I replied to her in the chat, but basically, it’s up to the brand owner. I want to be really clear. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this kind of stuff. That’s not my point. My point is that you should understand that there are repercussions to how much to express certain opinions. I do think that as brands or brand owners, there are responsibilities to support things that you want to see happen in the world. It doesn’t have to be this public statement. I think that’s part of my point.
  • The more you make a divisive issue a repeated public statement, one of the key focuses of your brand, the more you’ll alienate the people who don’t agree.

  • 28:20 Cory: That’s all part of brand perception. Everything you do, especially when you’re the leader of the brand, everything you do connects with your brand in some way. That’s the truth of it. People make associations. Someone looks at what Travis did, and they link his actions to Uber. Those things are connected. What he says, what he believes, how he treats people—I connect that with Uber in my brain, and now I look at Uber in a certain way because of his actions.
  • 29:03 Again, here’s what we’re going for. As you move forward in developing your brand and knowing who your target audience is, knowing who your target customer is, the question is, are you attracting the right people? Are you attracting who you want to attract? Are you not attracting the people you want to attract? If so, why not? What does that look like? Let’s say I want to impact Community members.
  • 29:39 People in the seanwes Community. Join us! We’re great. Let’s say I want to reach out to the people in the Community. They’re like-minded, smart, wise, and many of them are business owners or want to start their own business. Let’s say I want to reach out to them. Let’s say I’m like, “If you hire me, I’ll show you how to call up your competitors, make fun of them on the phone, and send them nasty emails—just be an all-around jerk.” Let’s say that’s what I wanted my brand to be.
  • 30:26 I wanted to attract Community members, but Community members don’t do that! That’s not in their values. They would look at that and go, “That’s gross. I want to do everything I can to avoid Cory, because he wants to teach me how to be a jerk. That doesn’t make any sense.” I would attract a certain audience that thinks, “Yeah, I want to learn how to do that to my competitors.”
  • 31:00 The point is understanding the consequences, and consequences can be good or bad. Do my actions, my values, and the things I put out there result in what I want them to result in, and are they helping the people I want to help?

Personal Beliefs & Brand Perception

  • 31:18 Kyle: There is a lot of responsibility that could potentially be overlooked. If you own a brand, especially if you’re just starting out and it’s just you, or you’re running a brand in upper management, there’s a lot of personal responsibility there. Even in your off time, your free time, and almost especially there, because people see the real side of you. If you’re not reflecting the values your brand has or your volume on certain issues is way different than the brand you’re associated with, inevitably, those things will connect.
  • 32:04 I think that’s hard for a lot of people to comprehend, because they’re like, “My personal life should be my personal life and my business life should be my business life,” but they inevitably weave together. Perception of people doesn’t have an on-off switch between when you’re at work and when you’re not at work. That trickles into how you perceive the brand as a whole, when it’s someone who’s representing that brand.
  • 32:33 That’s another thing to understand. I do think, to clarify something from earlier, that if you believe in certain things or you want to see things happen in the world that don’t necessarily have relevance with your brand, you should support those. Give money to charities or go to fundraisers, whatever you want to do. However you feel you’re supporting that. At what volume are you doing that?
  • 33:02 Are you trying to make your brand a political activist brand, or are you donating to some organization that helps with the issues you’re concerned with? There’s a difference in volume there, and there’s a difference in how much you alienate certain people.
  • 33:19 Cory: Ultimately, at the end of the day, if you’re like, “This is too important to be quiet about. I need to speak up. My values dictate that I do say something or post something, that I make this part of my brand,” know what that might look like.
  • Know that there are people that disagree with you and that’s okay, just decide if the outcome is worth the cost.

  • 33:48 Kyle: This whole episode pretty much boils down to that. The things you do, on any level, have some form of repercussion to your perception as a brand, and even on an individual level. How do you want to approach those things? Do you want people to pay extra somewhere else, because you’ve suddenly focused your brand on saving the giraffes? I don’t know who would disagree with that.
  • 34:20 Cory: Who doesn’t want to save the giraffes? Poachers, I guess. You’re going to alienate the poachers.
  • 34:27 Kyle: You can still alienate people with that, as silly as that example is. If you start to move your brand toward that focus, maybe people just aren’t that excited. This sounds so terrible. I’m not picking on giraffes. I’m really sad that they’re on the endangered species list. Maybe you want giraffes to be okay, but it’s not a big issue in your life. It’s not a thing you’re focused on, so you’re less likely to support that brand, not because you have disagreements with them, but because you’re tired of following them on Twitter and only seeing things about giraffes. That’s a silly example, but it does change people’s perception.