It happens in the business world all the time. A company or a brand, desperate for some publicity, takes their marketing campaign or business model just a little to far, creating an unexpected wave of consumer backlash. Commonly referred to as “jumping the shark,” this act of corporate humiliation can often cause irreparable damage to a business.
So how can your company avoid pulling a Fonz* and jumping the shark? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Pay Close Attention to Your Corporate Image
One of the easiest ways to jump the shark is to forget what your company stands for. Cutting the quality of your product or opting to run cheap and cheesy advertisements could push your customers further away. On the other hand, lending your company name to a worthy cause or charity as a sponsor or key contributor could help enhance your company image.
2) Don’t Try and Be Everything to Everyone
Trying to do too many things at once is a sure fire way to find yourself straddling a shark. Remember, most people don’t like change. So take things slow. Implement new features or campaigns in smaller steps to avoid spooking your followers.
3) Stick With What Works
If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to innovate and try new things at your company. Just don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel with everything you do. Furthermore, don’t forget to track your internal and external marketing campaigns so that you can properly gauge what tactics worked and more importantly, why.
4) Have Confidence in Your Abilities
Whenever you feel the urge to do something crazy at your company, stop and think about it for a minute. Before you act, ask yourself the following question: “Could this idea potentially derail years of brand loyalty?” If your business has hit a rough patch, don’t overcompensate with gimmicky promotions or poorly thought out product launches. Keep your cool and weather the storm strategically.
If you want to move your company forward without jumping the shark try focusing on expanding existing services and product lines, investing in new technology, and continuing to improve customer service. These outlets will enable you to continue innovating without compromising your commitment to quality.
*For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, “jumping the shark” refers to a scene in an episode of Happy Days where the Fonz actually evades a shark by jumping over it on waterskies. The phrase has since been adopted to refer to the precise moment when a television show, band, actor, politician or company that was once great reaches the point where it will ultimately decline in quality and popularity. A classic example? The moment Tom Cruise decided to jump on Oprah’s couch.