Why High Praise Stinks

Wedding-Photographers-Association“Perfect for Wedding Photographers” is the quote that killed my interest in Animoto Pro. My creative director had sent me a note about Animoto a couple of weeks back. I next saw it advertised on the Mashable Tech site last Sunday night, because I was trying to figure out how to teach Siri to tweet without my lisp on the new iPhone 4S.

Of course I should have been sleeping, because I was wrung dry from teaching a solid two days at my personal branding bootcamp for UCLA extension. But, what does a social media expert do without any time off? Look for something new and difficult to do on social media, of course. Hence my near delirious consideration of hacking my phone or engaging in some off label workaround to save time spitting out 140 characters or less as often as possible.

The ad for Animoto Pro reminded me of so many ways that small businesses kill off their own brands. That is, they take – or make – any testimonials to add credibility in a naive effort attract new buyers.

Most people don’t know this: not all good feedback is worth announcing in an ad, or on your website, or even accepting for your LinkedIn profile. That’s true even when the feedback contains golden words like “perfect.”

Your business or high dollar consumer prospects aren’t looking for just any supplier. They are looking for trustworthy, high value, low risk providers. Hence, who’s doing the recommending matters, even though “opinion” sites try to say it ain’t so.

“It’s all about personal sources” is the mantra that Yelp, Angies List, and the other faux-neighbor sites are using to successfully upsell ad programs to local businesses. These sites aggregate supposedly highly influential ratings and comments. I think the underlying principle of relying on what neighbor-strangers bother to type in is a shaky way to make your consumer choices much less bigger business ones. It may just be my luck, but I’ve gotten sick on Chinese food and now work on a bowed hardwood floor, because I used those recommendations.

Nonetheless, we marketers continue to espouse that personal sources, or barring that possibility, at least human sources lead prospects to your door or landing page. Hence the cash machines that are social media sites, review sites, or other comment aggregators.

That said, “perfect” recommendations from a less than perfect source is bound to #epicfail when your target buyers are from a larger, better class.

The idea that a wedding photographer, arguably the least demanding, critical and professional of nearly everyone who wields a camera for pay, thinks Animoto Pro is perfect? Perhaps that’s meant to impress high school yearbook photographers? Or the guy who sells soccer photos on picture day?

The recommendation does not impress media and marketing professionals, because for us, photography is a part of strategic campaigns, not a memorial of love for those who have only just begun, or grandparents proudly wearing that big button featuring their favorite five year old.

I know I am unfairly picking on Animoto Pro, its advertising agency, and it media buying firm. That’s the problem with being in business; we have to spend money heartlessly. That would also be known as responsibly.

And before you jump on the comments to say that wedding photographers have a tough job and are often elite professionals, may I call your attention to Adam Sandler’s career. It wasn’t for the effect of high art and drama that he starred in The Wedding Singer. We wouldn’t have laughed if that movie were a biopic of Pavarotti, famously not a wedding singer.

Beware of kind words and use them judiciously.

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