Monday, February 25, 2013

Allow me to redirect you

Well, it seems I have a new blog site. Jeff Berry Rules. Doesn't have the Beloved Leader theme or the satirical references to North Korean totalitarianism (What? Is that not funny suddenly?). But I'm hoping that those of you following me on this blog will just get a transfer ticket and continue to ride with me on my new blog.

I may keep this blog site open for really snarky stuff. But I'm also trying to run a business here and the North Korean stuff, while amusing no doubt, just wasn't helping my cred among certain members of my potential client base.

Don't worry, though. I'm not changing my writing style. (Though my blog coach tells me not to sound so much like a North Korean dictator.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Secret to Good Customer Service: Be a Good Customer

Here's that spit you ordered, sir.
Want the secret to getting good customer service? Be a good customer. You'd think this would just be common sense, along the same lines as the attracting-more-flies-with-honey-than-vinegar variety. But I've witnessed so many people think that they are somehow entitled to good customer service, even when they are being cranky and nasty.

Think about it, though; the people delivering the service are, after all, just people. And when customers are rude to them, they, being just people, tend to react badly. You can't blame them.

Say you get bumped from a flight and you are one of the many frustrated passengers in line trying to deal with the poor, harassed, ticket agents at the airline desk. They are frazzled themselves, and the delays or cancelled flights aren't their fault; yet they get all the vitriol sprayed at them. They also have a tremendous amount of power over your immediate fate. So why would you want to make their day any worse than it already is? Do you think they're going to bend over backwards for the jerk ahead of you abusing  them? By contrast, when it's finally your turn, and you've had the good luck to be behind an irate jerk, try being nice and understanding. You'll be amazed at how much they're willing to help you. That's just human nature.

In crime TV shows, where they use the good-cop-bad-cop interrogation technique on the felons, who gets the cooperation? The good cop. Be the good cop.

Can I Have it on the Side?

Years ago, I used to work with a young copywriter who was nice to me but nasty to waitresses, clerks, bank tellers, and all service people. He was a sanctimonious bully, thinking he was entitled to good customer service because he was, well, the customer, as if that alone were a sacred status bestowed by God Almighty Himself. As I said, he was always nice enough to me, but it would get to me how he'd treat people whose job it was to serve him.

One day we were are at lunch and he was being particularly sarcastic and nasty to our waitress taking our order. He made some remark about how he expected her to screw up his order because they always did at this restaurant, but he'd make sure it was reflected in her tip (he was always a bad tipper anyway).

I couldn't stand it any longer. After she had gone back to the kitchen to deliver our order, I said to him, "Mike, you do know they spit in your salad when you're nasty to them?"

"What?!" he said, his face going ashen, "How do you know?"

"I don't know that for certain," I said, "but I would, if you talked to me like that."

"But that's against the law!" he said indignantly.

"So? Who's to know? Why would you provoke somebody who prepares your food outside of your sight?"

I think this must have gotten to him. He just kept reiterating that it was against the law. When the waitress brought our meals, he bluntly asked her if she'd spit in it. She just turned abruptly and left--before she said something she'd lose her job over. He was silent throughout the rest of the lunch, which he didn't touch, evidently calculating the gallons of other-people's saliva he'd ingested over the years. I myself tried to be extremely respectful and polite to the waitress, just so I wouldn't get spit by association.

I found out later that my hunch about waitresses spitting in your salad was not far off. Some friends who had had waiting jobs at some point in their lives confessed that they had actually witnessed it. Though they had never done it themselves. Nossir. It's against the law. (Isn't it?)

Be Nice. Get Nice.

This same principle applies to all customer service. If you want good service, be as nice as possible to the people delivering it to you. It's just a job to them. And they may not, out of fear of losing it, be outright rude to you. But they have a considerable amount of say in the level of service they do give you. They might be able to get you on the next flight out, or upgrade your hotel room, or find you a good table, or make sure your meal is hygienic.

As with the good fortune of being behind a cranky passenger at the airline counter, look for opportunities to contrast your own civilized, empathetic behavior with a rude customer. As an angry customer is ranting, make eye contact with the harassed sales person, signalling you are on her side. When it comes your turn, you'll be amazed at how helpful she is to you. You're not only a relief, you have indicated you are already friends by that knowing, sympathetic look. It's diabolic how well this works.

They Have a Name Tag. Use It.

Also most service employees wear name badges. Use them. Address a person by their name. This establishes an immediate, if temporary, bond with them. It also shows respect; that you recognize them as a fellow person. In a restaurant that makes its waitstaff introduce themselves at the beginning of the meal, try to remember their name and use it to thank them whenever they come by to refill your water or ask you if you need anything. This will also enhance the service you get from them. Most service jobs are hard, grueling and thankless. So anything you can do to make it pleasant for them will help give them a little more enthusiasm in serving you. It really works.

Another trick my daughter uses is to compliment them on something; their earrings, their nail polish, their haircut. My daughter does it sincerely because she is a naturally congenial, empathetic person, but it also seems to bring her exemplary service. A compliment will usually spark a short conversation that creates a bond. People with a bond want to do nice things for each other. Men can't do this as easily as women, but then women have always been more adept at getting good service. A man, however, can still be nice and find something to talk about, any little thing that establishes a tiny human connection.

This is the flip side of one of the fundamental rules of marketing I write about in our book (shameless plug alert) The Unbreakable Rules of Marketing. Rule 6: Give Love to Get Love. This might also be a rule of life and not just marketing. But since so much of life involves marketing to each other, it makes sense. When you're a merchant, give your customers love, certainly. But when you're a customer, love the people who provide you service.You'll get much more from them.

Unless you like spit in your salad.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let Them Eat Misquotes

Misquoting is all great fun
until someone loses a head.

Pop Quiz: Who said, "Let them eat cake." ?

Take your time.

If you said Marie Antoinette, you'd be wrong. Oh, she's reputed to have said it at the beginning of the French Revolution as a dismissive, patronizing quip about the plight of the starving poor. But she never said it. Probably never said anything even remotely close to it. She was personally involved in several charities and both she and her husband, Louis XVI, were both sympathetic to the sufferings of their subjects and the social reforms of the Enlightenment. It just wasn't her.

No, the person who said it was a yellow journalist, possibly an 18th century Sean Hannity, plagiarizing Jean Jacques Rousseau from 25 years before (who himself was quoting some unnamed Austrian monarch before him) and then attributed it to Marie Antoinette to inflame the populace about the callousness of the monarchy. So she never said it. Never thought it. But was beheaded for it just the same.

Yellow Journalism

This yellow journalism in the service of politics hasn't changed in two centuries. Last year, during the early days of the interminable primary, Mitt Romney was quoted with the now-infamous phrase, "Corporations are people, my friend." The left wing part of the media and the Obama campaign glommed onto that sentence and ran like bats out of hell with it. The actual quote in its entirety (you can see the entire exchange he had with a rude heckler at the Iowa State Fair) went on to explain that the profits of corporations flow out to shareholders and executives and employees--in short, people. What he was trying to say, in his admittedly awkward way, was that corporations, like any organization, are composed of people. True enough. But in the wake of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, it was perhaps a tone deaf thing to say, and certainly easily misunderstood or perverted to have him saying something he didn't intend. He is seen, in the video, trying to have a respectful exchange with someone in the audience,--someone only there to shout him down, not have a respectful exchange. He lays out his case, and invites people to disagree with him. But the yellow journalists Antoinetted him and picked up only the juicy five words at the beginning of that exchange. The "my friend" part was the cherry on top.

Of course, Romney, bless his heart, isn't the most suave public speaker. And not a week goes by when he isn't quoted out of context by the left, or the Daily Show, with some delicious sound byte. As Jon Stewart said of him, "He's a comedy gold mine." (That, too, is a misquote; he was actually saying it of The Donald). It's been said that in today's 24/7 Internet environment, no politician has a chance. But they didn't have the Internet in 1789, and no politician (or sitting head of state) had a chance then either.

Everybody Does It, So Why Shouldn't We?

Both sides are guilty of this Antoinetting. Today there is a quote circulating among the right wing part of the media that Obama said the outrageous thing, "...if you have a business, you didn't build that."  They are getting great mileage out of it to demonstrate his sinister socialist agenda  and Marie Antoinette callousness to hard-workin' entrepreneurs. Blustering billboards are popping up next to Interstates (ironically) all over the redder parts of the country, virtually sputtering with indignant typography, "I did, too, build my business!"

But though Obama did literally say it, it was, like Romney's quote, taken out of context and carefully Xacto-bladed out of a full sentence, changing the meaning entirely. The "if" in his statement is not the beginning of that sentence (beware of ellipses); it's definitely lowercase and follows a comma. And the "that" is clearly in reference to the collectively built infrastructure referenced before the comma, not the business.

What the complete sentence said was, "Somebody else invested in roads and bridges, if you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else did." I.e., "that" being the "roads and bridges" you've posted your indignant billboard alongside. Admittedly, the sentence is as awkwardly put as the "my friend" in Romney's quote and he should have been more attentive to pronoun-antecedent agreement ("those" instead of "that")--something that happens when you wing it without a teleprompter. But if you watch the actual video of the speech (which, thanks to the Internet, yet another part of the government-built infrastructure, you can do easily), you see that he is making a broad gesture with his arm about all those other things--the Internet, the roads and highways and bridges, the laws, the energy grid, educational assistance, low-interest loans. But the yellow journalists, in the interests of rousing a rabble, just leapt on that sentence fragment like cats on a couch and tore it to ribbons. They made of it something that wasn't there. Or even remotely intended. Like Marie Antoinette reputedly dissing the poor.

Wait, Wait, Wait! You're Misquoting!

We may think we're seeing this more and more in politics. But it's always been there (even from before the French Revolution). If a candidate says "Good morning" to some guy in a doughnut shop, the punditocracy immediately jumps on it with "What's he got against the afternoon?" And then, the fiery, animated title at the bottom of the screen, "So-in-so's War on the Post Meridian". When the First Lady makes some innocuous and well-intentioned remark about how we ought to encourage our kids to eat more healthy foods, the other side turns this deceptively wholesome advice into a sinister plot to control what we eat. Next thing you know, they'll be outlawing Big Gulps in New York City...oh, that slippery slope! If some candidate fails to mention the word "freedom" in his speech, he's against freedom. If they don't say "Merry Christmas" in their holiday greeting card, they're making War on Christmas. It's all great fun, though.

Imagine doing that to the Bible, in order to make it say what you want it to say. Didn't Jesus say, for instance, that it's easy for a rich man to get into heaven? Didn't he egg on the rabble to cast the first stone on that adulteress? Didn't he tell us to make the little children suffer? Didn't he tell us to pay more taxes ("Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's")? I can easily find (with some deft, Xacto-blade editing) precisely those quotes in the Bible and post them on my website. In fact, I just did.

Now you would protest, rightly, "Wait, wait, wait! You're taking it all out of context! That's not what he said at all!" But I'd say right back to you that you're just an apologist for Jesus. You hear what you want to hear and nothing more. You make up your mind, and then look for confirmation in quote fragments or downright misquotes. And anyone who sees or hears it differently, well, they're unbelievers.

Of course, I'll go to hell for misquoting the Lord & Savior. So I take it back. I really don't know what he actually said, I wasn't there. I only read it from a second-hand source who also wasn't there, translated from Aramaic into Greek into King James English. So maybe everybody along the line misquoted.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The 9th Rule, Not the 1st Amendment

Maybe you should Super Size that.
You know, for God.

Okay, I'm not going to weigh in on the already weighing-too-much Chick-fil-A slap-fest. People who know me know where I stand. Or think they do. But that's not the point of this post.

Because this isn't Russia, or China, you can say almost anything you want without going to prison for it (if it doesn't disclose a danger to National Security). That's guaranteed by the frequently misunderstood but too-often-cited First Amendment. And CfA President Dan Cathy's (as ironic a character name in this tempest about LGBT rights if there ever was one) venting his inner biases on a nationally syndicated talk show is not a matter of freedom of speech. He can, obviously, say whatever he wants. Just as any of us can. Just as I can in this blog.

But I want to talk about marketing blunders, not human rights violations.

The Clock's Always Running

The Ninth Unbreakable Rule of Marketing states that everything you do is marketing. There is no off-season, no time out. The clock is always running. So though Dan Cathy can claim he was only speaking as a private citizen, exercising his rights of free speech, he wasn't just a private citizen. He was the head of a very large and successful (so far) company. He was speaking as Chick-fil-A, the restaurant chain. The game was on. And therefore he was a bowl of either honey or vinegar to the flies he wanted to attract or chase away from his business.

Mike Huckabee, the Fox News personality and weight-loss poster boy (the ironies never stop) jumped in with the bowl of honey and decided to help Cathy's marketing by calling for a national day of support for CfA. The response was a record breaking day of sales as coreligionist Evangelicals flocked to take years off their life-expectancies at Chick-fil-A's across the country. Great promotion. People just lined up around the block to pack away those saturated fats for the cause. Headlines proclaimed record sales for Chick-fil-A (oh, how spelling out that brand name is so tedious).

On the other hand, Cathy, in alienating the majority of Americans (according to the most recent national polls) who support same sex marriage and LGBT rights, probably lost a lot of business, too. For good. We'll see how his business does in the future without them. And after the food-fight settles down, we'll see if his loyal following are enough to sustain the chain's momentary bump in traffic.

I'm not questioning Cathy's sincerity, or his self-image as a Good Christian. That's also his First Amendment right. I'm just questioning his marketing judgment. CfA is a private company, so he doesn't have shareholders or a board to answer to (unlike that other fast-foodeur, Carl's Jr's ill-fated Carl Karcher,did when he decided to vent his anti-gay opinions in public back in the 80s). But he does have customers. And I'm not sure that it was all that smart to alienate all those customers gratuitously. It's bad enough that they can't get that delicious, deep-fried, avian protein on Sunday.

If you're a gay person, or even a person who believes that gay people should have the same rights as everybody else, from now on you're going to associate the brand Chick-fil-A with an anti-gay agenda. It's not that they would be openly mean to gay customers, or even gay employees. It's that you would think that a portion of the money you give them for that bucket o' nuggets would go to support legislation that would be mean to you and your gay friends and family. That bad taste would last for a long time.

And Cathy can't unring that bell. Or whine about his First Amendment rights. Marketing doesn't care about your puny rights, Earthman.

There is No Real Freedom of Speech in Marketing

Mark Twain, in 1905, made an astute observation about the myth of the freedom of speech:

“The living man is not really without this privilege—strictly speaking—but as he possesses it merely as an empty formality, and knows better than to make use of it, it cannot be seriously regarded as an actual possession. As an active privilege, it ranks with the privilege of committing murder: we may exercise it if we are willing to take the consequences.” 

Freedom of speech--and action--work both ways. You're always free to say what you want. But you're not free from the consequences of speech. Because people can say whatever they want in response. Or do whatever they want. Including stop doing business with you.

People won't eat your chicken, or go see your movies, or buy your gas, or download your latest album, or shop at your stores if they think, by doing so, they're supporting causes that offend them. That's just the way people are. It isn't fair. But the Ninth Rule isn't fair. It's just unbreakable.

So, before you go out and speak as a private citizen, count to ten. Think about how everything you do is marketing. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mixed Company

Don't talk about
politics, religion, or sex.
I think we need to start applying old manners of decorum to our social media posts. Unless all of our friends on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Google+, Manta, Naymz, etc. (I really need to get off some of those) are like-minded to the point of identify, it's probably not a good idea to impulsively put up every little thought that pops into our feverish brains.

Back in the old days--and I mean really old days--there was a rule of thumb that if you were in mixed company you didn't bring up three topics: politics, religion, and sex. Most people with a reasonably developed forebrain understood this instinctively. The chances were pretty good, for instance, that if you were at a family gathering, some of your relatives would have differing and strongly held views of these three topics. And so you'd leave it alone and talk about something less inflammatory, say, recipes for rhubarb, or your irritable bowel syndrome.

But you'd know your audience. You'd know, for instance, that your uncle was a hyper-gunslinging-every-man-for-himself-cold-dead-fingers conservative and your aunt was a hyper-tree-hugging-war-never-solved-anything-militant-vegan liberal. So you'd know not to bring up certain subjects, at least for the duration of the meal.

Why doesn't this social common sense seem to apply to our social media then? Is it because we can't see the people around the table when we shoot off our mouths?

When most people post something on Facebook, it goes to all of their friends and family, even Aunt Treehug and Uncle Chainsaw. You may be incensed about what the Supreme Court just ruled on, or about what fatwa was just issued by some religious body, but consider your audience before you fire off that diatribe.  I understand Google+ has created a way for you to hermetically seal off various constituencies of your friends by assigning them to "circles". But how many of your friends and family are that easily circled? People aren't jelly beans.

It's better to just think before you speak (or post).

Don't Antagonize, Persuade

That's not to say that you can't have a spirited debate online. But your goal in any debate should be to persuade, not to alienate. It doesn't help your argument, for instance, to start off saying, "That socialist in the White House..." or "That idiot running for president..." Going ad hominem early rarely persuades. It just alerts your audience that you are closed minded and have already run out of cogent points. So it closes their minds to anything further you have to say. It may feel good to spew an insult (and Lord knows, I enjoy a good one from time to time) but you win nobody over.

Of course, if your object is to merely get amens from the choir, then ad-hominem away. Or if you want to flush out the heretics from you friends and get them to unfriend you, by all means, keep insulting them. But that's not persuasion either. That's just walling yourself in with the True Believers.

Ask yourself, has anyone ever won you over to their side by insulting you, or insulting your beliefs? Well, believe it or not, most people are like you; they aren't persuaded either. So if you are going to bring up politics or religion, keep it civil. And respectful. (You probably should still avoid bringing up sex, though.)

Speaking of Religion

If you're religious, good for you. But realize that many people, including people quite close to you and listed as "friends" on your Facebook page, may not be. Or they have very different beliefs. You may wring your hands in anguish at their damned souls, but you'll have zero chance of saving them by chasing them away. Again, think about persuasion. And think about the sixth Unbreakable Rule of Marketing: Give Love to Get Love. (Uh oh, shameless plug alert!) If you want people to love you, and therefore listen carefully to what you're saying, then don't piss them using the phrase "piss them off".

Saint Paul talked about this marketing principle two thousand years ago. If my old catechism memory serves, he went around telling people to lighten up, to not condemn people because they weren't Christians yet, but to respect them, respect their peculiar idiosyncrasies, and respect their quaint beliefs. He rediscovered the old (even then) principle that if you give love, if you live your own life in a loving way, if people see you in a state of grace, you'll have a much better chance of winning them over than if you stone and crucify them.

It's funny how many Christians during the last two thousand years have ignored that simple marketing principle. But fortunately, enough of them have believed in it to keep the enterprise going for a couple of millennia. Because it works.

Of course, I probably misremember that catechism lesson. He might have said, "Kill 'em all. Let God sort 'em out." It was a long time ago. And it was in mixed company.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Cloud: What Could Posiblay Go Wrung?

The Cloud.
Looks so serene from up here.
Everywhere you read and hear lately, the whole world is moving to Cloud Computing. Hard drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs, paper, client-based computing, local data storage; all will be a thing of the past, as obsolete as food. This is where the world is going, so you might as well embrace it and join the 21st century.

Really, it makes so much sense: Instead of that quaint old custom of storing your data locally, and backing it up remotely, why not just forget the local part altogether? What's so special about your precious hard drive anyway? All you need is a reliable, secure WiFi connection to the Internet with ultra-fast throughput. Who doesn't always have that? (Well, I don't, but I don't count.)

And doesn't it make so much more sense, instead of being able to run your own version of whatever program you need, installed on your own computer, to be able to access the latest version (provided it's still supported) from a centralized server somewhere in a big building in Akron, Ohio? All of your data, all of your computing in one, lightly guarded warehouse on one machine that will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever crash. And all of it owned by a company that will never, ever, ever, ever go out of business. Makes me feel cozy all over.

The other no-need-to-worry thing about the concept of Cloud-Only Computing is that someone else has access to your data. And they've promised that they won't let anybody else look at it. Like Linked-In or E-Harmony or Google. They promised, too. Just read their privacy policies (there's a link somewhere on their sites).So we can all rest assured that whatever sensitive files you've stored on that server in Akron, nobody else will ever be able to get at them...ever, ever, ever, ever.

As Usual, I Don't Know What I'm Talking About

Of course, I've been told I don't know what I'm talking about--by people who do know what they're talking about. And they're right, I don't. I'm a digital Luddite. I'm just an ad writer. But as one of the billions of "targeted" users of The Cloud, my itchiness about it follows Unbreakable Rule of Marketing #2: Perception is Reality. My perception's not good. And my reality is; I can't trust The Cloud.

We've all also experienced the phenomenon of People-Who-Know-What-They're-Talking-About getting it completely wrong. Allow me to jog your memory. There was the BP oil spill in the Gulf in 2010 and the Three Stooges attempts to cap it. There was the sub-prime-contaminated credit-default-swap debacle of 2006-8, where economic experts assured us nothing could go wrong, and then the worst bank collapse since 1929 happened. There was the nuclear reactor meltdown at Fukushima in 2011, where the plant was built to withstand a 7.3 magnitude earthquake--and what are the odds of a 9.0 earthquake? (Really, let's get serious.) It's gotten so whenever I hear experts reassuring us that nothing bad could happen, I hang on to something.

So in spite of exhortations that The Cloud is where the future of computing is going, I'm hanging on to my old-fashioned, client-based computing and my steam-powered, external hard-drive backup, as well as storing data on a remote server. As any engineer will tell you, in building any system, the more redundancy the better. And if the Internet does go down--which could never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever happen, of course--I'll still at least be able to get some work done. Even on a cloudless day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Facebook's IPO

Oooo! Nice suit, Mark!
There's already been a ton of press and opinion about the Fail du Jour, Facebook's IPO. So I thought, why stand snootily aloof? I've got my own opinions. Of course, I know almost nothing about Wall Street and high finance. And I'd be the last person on earth to give advice about investing. I don't want to go there.There are already way too many people, all far more savvy than me, giving out bad investment advice.

But I do know a little about brand marketing, and Facebook made some big boo boos when it came to that.

To put it pointedly, the Brobdingnagian minds that put the Facebook IPO together ignored four of the nine Unbreakable Rules of Marketing (yes, another shameless plug for our book), and it is already coming home to haunt them.

Rule #1 Ignored: Consistency Beats Ability

This rule states that in marketing anybody who sticks with a good message is going to beat anybody else who keeps changing the message for a different one.

Facebook's message has been, from the beginning, all about sharing. It was a place you could share your pictures, your thoughts, your feelings, your favorites, your likes, your whole life with all of the world--or at least, all of your friends. In spite of the confusion and controversy surrounding FB's ever-changing privacy settings (in fact, a current joke going around is that FB had to go public because even they couldn't figure out their privacy settings), it has generally erred more on the side of openness. Sharing is the Zuckerberg mantra. Until it came to its IPO.

For some reason, Mark Zuckerberg and Morgan Stanley (the company that underwrote the IPO) decided to share only certain information about the company's revenue projections with a select, privileged class of investors. In fact, they put together a two-tiered structure of investors, one tier for Mr. Z and a select group, the other for the rest of us, the hoi polloi...or, to put it in terms we hoi polloi might better understand, suckers. Some of the former group even started selling off their shares quietly before the IPO, knowing what the rest of us didn't know; that the initial price was highly inflated. Of course, the SEC is looking into this to see if there were any insider trading violations (duh!), but aside from that, it was a colossal departure from FB's consistent brand position of sharing. They didn't.

Zuckerberg went further with this stinginess by reserving for himself 57% of the voting shares in the company, so basically nobody who had invested in the company had any right to share in how it was to be run. We (both the first tier investors and the sucker-class) were just supposed to pay our money and shut up.

Obviously these actions worked against the consistent Facebook brand message of sharing. Facebook didn't want to share certain, potentially damaging information with all of its investors, and Zuckerberg didn't want to share power with anybody. It was his company. And it was to be public in name only. Go found your own social media company. This one's mine.

Rule #2 Ignored: Perception is Reality

By ignoring the Consistency Rule and departing from its "let's all share" brand position, Facebook also ignored the second Unbreakable Rule of Marketing, "Perception is Reality." They lost control of the story. People were now starting to think that all the generous, open, we're-all-one-big-happy-human-family narrative was a cynical sham. That's going to cause irreparable damage to Facebook's brand in the future

Zuckerberg hasn't helped the perception.  Since the IPO did its belly flop, by refusing to give interviews or address the embarrassing slide of the stock, he and Facebook have just let the press and comedians take the story and have their hairy way with it. Maybe he was advised by PR counsel to lay low until this all blows over and the share price stabilizes (it is as of this posting at $25.87 and still falling daily from its initial price of $38). Or maybe the perception is right; Facebook doesn't really like to share...unless it's your private data with third parties.

The CEO also didn't help his brand perception by continuing to show up at board meetings in his signature hoodie. While an adorable, iconoclastic statement when Facebook was a brash, young start-up, Zuckerberg's slacker wardrobe hasn't exactly shored up the weak brand perception. His style has now just become an affectation. If FB had risen 32% in value instead of lost that much, perhaps the hoodie image might have played well to the New Generation of Leader brand. As it was, it just reinforced the perception that the company was run by Doogie Howser (who at least wore ties).

Rule #6 Ignored: Give Love to Get Love

Facebook's violation of this rule gets back to the conditions of secrecy and stinginess that characterized the IPO in the first place. The rule states that, in order to be loved, you have to love first. You have to really love your customers, your shareholders, your employees, the whole world. And you have to mean it.

Facebook's dual-structured IPO seemed designed to piss off the maximum number of people. Zuckerberg himself made out like a bandit; literally. But he showed no love for his investors, or his board, or his customers. He came across as a greedy kid, unwilling to share either information, power, or money. Now there's nothing wrong with making a lot of money. That's great. But if you do it in such a way that a whole lot of people feel ripped off, then that same whole lot of people aren't going to love you for it. Or love your company.

My daughter, now in college, tells me anecdotally that a lot of her friends are dropping off of Facebook. I've also known a few of my own friends to have dropped off. I don't know if FB is experiencing a falloff in membership (nor do I expect them now to share that information if they do), but if the share price is any index of lovability of a company, Facebook isn't much liked right now. It may be the 500 lb social media gorilla at the moment, but it's made itself vulnerable to the next upstart who can demonstrate more respect-- and love--for its customers.

Rule #9 Ignored: Everything is Marketing

Everything has a direct affect on a company's brand, even in the complicated structuring of a public offering.  Neither Facebook nor Morgan Stanley, in their cleverness of lighting the exploding-cigar of their IPO, seemed to appreciate the damage they were going to do to the brand of Facebook itself. The way an IPO is presented is the same as a brand campaign.It's a marketing message.

It even comes down to little things. And not just the hoodie.

The fact that Zuckerberg chose to have his wedding on the day after the IPO was itself a marketing message; a bad one. Like his hoodie, it showed the millions who had considered investing in his company that he didn't respect their apprehension. They're watching their life savings evaporate before their eyes, and this kid is getting married. To some of the nonplussed public it even looked like a cynical move to protect his sudden new wealth ($20 billion) from being included as a joint asset in his marriage. California, where he got married, is a community property state, and so any assets (like stock) owned by one of the spouses prior to the wedding are not considered joint property.

I'm sure this was the furthest thing from Mark's mind. He probably was feeling jubilant at suddenly being among the richest men in the world and wanted to spontaneously celebrate by marrying his longtime girlfriend. That would be perfectly natural. Hell, I'd want to get married if I suddenly came into $20 billion. And I wish them both a long and happy marriage.

But the timing of it was brand-deaf. If, as with the continuation of the hoodie look, the IPO had seen FB stock take off instead of tank, the public reaction to the wedding might have been "Awwwwww! That's so cute!" instead of "Hmmmm...that's odd." So even something as personal as a wedding, to a public figure anyway, is a marketing message.

I did notice he wore a suit to his wedding, though. An ill-fitting one. He looked like a kid on his prom date. And I'll bet one of his shirttails was hanging out the back.

Yeah, you're right; that would be marketing, too.