If you ever get caught with your pants down, you’d better have a good story.
That’s my takeaway from a little online dust-up with Waiters In Boxers, a California company that provides … well, just what the name says.
Last week, reporter Chad Brooks profiled Waiters In Boxers as part of his “Funny Business” series for Business News Daily. After reading the story, I had to tweet my two cents’ worth, and several others quickly joined in the conversation, raising questions about the viability of this particular business model.
I figured that was the end of it until a few days later, when I received the following reply to my tweet:
Fair enough. Maybe this business model was more sophisticated than it seemed at first glance. I probably should take a closer look at their story, so I clicked through to the WIB site and found … not much of anything. I mean, lots of pecs, lots of abs, and lots of underwear, but nothing to change my mind or reverse a negative first impression.
Talk about a missed opportunity. Even negative word-of-mouth is a good thing, if you can turn the attention to your advantage. If Waiters In Boxers were my client, I’d urge them to do a quick A-B-C analysis of their site:
- Anticipate customer objections. If there’s an issue you need to address, then hit it head-on, or risk raising more red flags in customers’ minds. For instance, WIB wants to assure visitors that their service won’t be “as tacky and tasteless as what others have done.” Huh? Now I’m really uncertain about this. More details, please.
- Be yourself. Don’t hide behind the corporate “we.” Put a face on your company, make it personal. With WIB, I imagine a creepy, Hugh Hefner type behind the scenes. But maybe that’s all wrong. Maybe the company was started by a young woman who couldn’t find what she wanted for her bachelorette party. Maybe it was a hard-working waiter who was looking to create new opportunities for himself and his friends. When you personalize your story, you make it easier for customers to identify with you — and harder for critics to stereotype you.
- Choose your content carefully. Words and pictures matter. WIB wants to convey a sort of fun, wholesome image, but the content often communicates just the opposite. Beefcake photos and constant repetition of the word ‘sexy’? That just says “objectify me.” Instead of pecs, I’d recommend personality: Show the waiters in T-shirts and include a brief bio that turns them into living, breathing human beings. Not only would it change the whole tone of the site, but it might also encourage potential clients to get in touch for additional photos.
Here’s the naked truth: You can’t stop the critics from talking about you, but you can change the conversation by telling your side of the story more effectively.
Photo credit: Thomas van Ardenne via flickr CC