In essence if a company does as it says, they win friends, the get recommendations and accolades heaped on them and get paid – you could say that is the purist form of a USP (unique selling point).
There is of course a however, as nowadays a company is given ways to skip ahead of the pack. A company can buy a standard of performance that becomes their USP. On seeing that, other companies do the same, then it is no longer a USP – it gets neutralised. At the other end as the Volkswagen Group has shown you can claim a standard of performance and compliance without ever reaching it with no serious consequences.
The horror that was Grenfell Tower is seemingly the result of standards and compliance being ignored. The mentality is that’s what the taxpayer is for, without a say, they get to pick up the bill.
So, seemingly all standards of performance and quality then are not only neutralised in everyday life they become meaningless as shown elsewhere there is no enforcement. More importantly the consumer is aware that they have no meaning.
If standards don’t crack the USP code a company can turn to social media, achieve 5 stars (weirdly you can buy good reviews and bad reviews), get liked a lot- just £10 per100 likes, have lots of followers- just £4 per 100 followers. In seeing one company getting ahead this way others endeavour to follow suit. Then it dawns, the ratings and the followers can be bought, so they are not actually real. The consumer gains this awareness and the concept is neutralised. Next up the comparison websites, however it is soon learned they are actually owned by the companies that get compared – so again neutralised. The consumer is aware of this as well.
A change of tack then maybe a company needs to get an award to get ahead. These all start out well, work hard to maintain their integrity and are based on achievement, then something else pops up to neutralise this effort. More awards, even more awards, awards that companies can buy, awards that companies recommend and vote for themselves on. So, what to the consumer is an award? Miss World at first seemed a great accolade, then you walk down the street and the first ‘Miss’ seen, knocks that idea completely flat. The consumer is aware of this.
On and on it goes in circles, great ideas, lots of joining in, all leading to distortion and neutralising. Just as endlessly more and more providers pile in to gather more and more payments from those that should know better, then walk away and hide when responsibility is called for.
As we see all around a cost-effective marketing strategy is for a company to invent their own standards, their own performance criteria, their own awards, own voting forum and have their own trade association body. Why pay others for a neutralised concept, when at least this way you get to say what’s in or what’s out. The downside, the savvy consumer is also aware of this.
The full circle now appears to be for a company to avoid the expense, do what they want, totally forget standards and compliance and as a consequence they become more cost efficient, so more attractive to the consumer and highly profitable. These companies gain more as it is just them doing what they say they would.
There is the marketing headline to draw potential consumers in, then there is the reality, the real speak, the little voice the consumer hears when being asked to part with their hard-earned money - what will this do for me and is it worth it? These so called standards and compliance issues don’t reflect what can be achieved for me in my circumstances. The followers these companies I have don’t know them, are they real, those awards what do they mean to me in my situation? To get an unbiased view, best ask Gladys/Joe - next-door/at-the-office, as they are real and very pleased with their purchase.