When your external and internal marketing don’t match, people feel “weird.” They can’t explain it, but this disconnect causes prospects to not buy. Recently, I had an interaction with DirectBuy.com and chose not to buy because of this “weird” feeling (also known as a brand disconnect).

I’m sure you have all seen these types of promotions: “Give us 90 minutes and we’ll give you X—no strings attached.” Two weeks ago, I received a piece of direct mail (still effective) from . This piece offered a “free Android ePad” if I came for a demo of the facility. Normally I pass on these gimmicks, but I thought to myself, “why not? 90 minutes can’t be that bad and it would be good to see how marketing is done for these types of things.”

So I bit.

I called in, and after being routed through a call center (1st brand confusion), ended up leaving a voicemail.

A nice gentleman promptly called me back the next day. We corresponded and I gave him my email address. He replied with an email from a Gmail account (2nd brand confusion). He gave all the pertinent details, and reminded me to bring my offer certificate to the presentation or I would not get my ePad. He said he looked forward to meeting me and that he would personally be there to greet me. We scheduled time for a few Saturdays out.

Upon arriving at the Direct Buy location, I walked in to a very small, nondescript building (3rd brand confusion). I was promptly greeted by a very nice woman behind a counter who asked what time my tour was scheduled for. I told them my name and asked for the gentlemen with whom I spoke on the phone. She said to wait and I would be helped right away. Within minutes a gentlemen appeared and said he was there to give the tour. I inquired about the man I had spoken with on the phone and was informed that he wasn’t located in St. Louis (4th brand confusion).

The guide/salesman launched into a 10 minute speech about Direct Buy and how much money people save by becoming elite members of this prestigious club (side note: as a salesman, I noticed the lack of any personal questions to get to me and my wife and to establish rapport). We were escorted to a table and asked to complete a very in-depth questionnaire that asked how much money we made, how much money we had in savings, and a whole lot of other personal information. It was a photocopy of a photocopy and didn’t even have Direct Buy’s logo on it (5th brand confusion). I completed what I felt comfortable completing and we were escorted into a room with 12 chairs set up in two rows, arena style (6th brand confusion).

A nice woman entered and explained a little bit about Direct Buy (my wife and I being the only ones in the room), and then inserted a DVD! Yes, you are reading this correctly—our presentation was watching a video on a TV (7th brand confusion)!

She returned a few times, each time leaving the room to let us watch more of this video that talked about all the money we could save by becoming members. She asked several times that when we refrain from sharing any item pricing with anyone else, and let us know that we would eventually get to see the “books” that included all the pricing.

The lady then came back and ran her script: moving us to the table with the original gentleman guide. He sat down and asked us if we would like to become members. We were not shown the special pricing—only the cost of a few items (8th brand confusion).

At the table, the gentleman asked several times if we would like to become members and if we had any questions. I asked one question about how returns worked. He responded that he never had encountered that question before, and that he’d have to go get the answer (9th brand confusion). He returned telling us that they could not take returns and that it would be up to dealing with the brand manufacturer for any defective products.

I then shared what I do for a living, sales and marketing, and asked if he would like any constructive criticism on how I felt the sales process went. He said yes, but then when I started sharing our thoughts he launched into a speech about how that was just the company way.

I was then presented with my free ePad. To say I was disappointed with the product is an understatement. I clicked the email icon and—after waiting 33 seconds—it powered down. Not only was I disappointed in my “free ePad,” but the quality of product representing the Direct Buy’s gratitude told me the quality of the company (10th brand confusion).

In the end, we did not become Direct Buy members. We never saw the value, and we never felt right about the experience. The gut feeling that Direct Buy wasn’t right for us was caused by the disconnects with the brand experience itself.

To recap:

  1. “Personal direct number” routed to unbranded call center.

  2. Non-branded email address for representative.

  3. Preconception of facility and actual facility were vastly different.

  4. “Personal representative” doesn’t operate in my geographical area.

  5. Poor documents and sales collateral—weak brand image.

  6. “Private tour” turned into a stadium-style presentation.

  7. “Private tour” turned into watching a DVD alone in a room.

  8. Promise of documentation became a request to buy.

  9. Simple, straightforward member experience questions were outside of the representative’s scope of knowledge.

  10. Incentive reward was a piece of junk.

As you grow and promote yourself, ask yourself these things:

  • Does your brand and marketing align with the image you are trying to portray?

  • Do your employees fully embody your brand message and, more importantly, your brand experience?

If the answers are “yes,” then I’d say you are doing well and your brand is connecting with people. If not, you may want to consider if your brand is causing disconnects with would be customers.

Comments or questions? Keep them coming and if you’d like, email me directly at bdempsey(at)gobrandgo.com