November 6, 2007

Sisters Aren’t Doing It For Themselves

In the September 2007 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine an article was written on “South Africa’s first franchised chain of women-only gyms”. By all accounts, Shapes for Women is going from strength to strength with 32 franchises around the country. Founders Greg Ivins and Barry Owen must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Whoa, back up. Am I the only one that finds it ironic that it took two guys to start a women-only gym?

It reminds me of the time that diet formulas were under attack by M-Net’s Carte Blanche. Remember how much weight Mandy Strachen lost ;-). A representative of one of these “weight loss” companies was grilled on Carte Blanche. I could still have bought his defence of his product. Except, he was the size of Jabba the Hut. Jabba
He wasn’t exactly a poster child for the efficacy of his product. I have no problem with him being overweight – it could be a number of reasons – an under-active thyroid, genetics, a metabolism of a sloth (goodness knows, I just look at food and I put on a kg) – so I feel for him.

My issue is that his company allowed him onto Carte Blanche. His bulk was totally incongruous with the product he was punting. If I were in charge of setting the interview up, I would have had a “thinner” spokesperson representing the company. The message he sent was that his product didn’t work. Definitely a case of a “cobbler not having shoes for his own children”.

The same is true with Shapes for Women. Greg and Barry have a great concept and I’ve no doubt it will do well in its niche market. If it were up to me, I would have taken my ego out of the equation and hired a woman to front the company. A women’s gym designed by women for women would have been a better sell. So, sisters aren’t doing it for themselves (when it comes to owning women-only gyms).

Simply put … when we make a brand promise we have to walk our talk if we want to maintain long-term credibility. I haven’t seen too many “weight loss” adverts on the home shopping channels for a while. I reckon the Advertising Standards Authority kicked a lot of these weight loss companies into touch because they couldn’t substantiate their claims.

The lesson for me is that when I make a brand promise, I’d best do everything in my power to uphold it or risk losing my credibility.

Here are some examples of brand sabotage. We’re not idiots and we can smell spin a mile away. Consider how you sabotage your own brand and company every day.

  • Traffic officers that don’t wear seatbelts
  • A car salesman that drives a different car to the one he is marketing
  • A multi-level marketing sales person selling you the dream of making millions pitching up in a clapped out City Golf
  • A doctor that smokes
  • Mcdonald’s trying to sell health meals
  • Las Vegas marketing itself as a family destination  (What  happens in  Vegas  stays in  Vegas is more credible)Vegas
  • Cigarette companies putting health warnings on their packaging
  • Casinos punting responsible gambling (ditto for alcohol distributors)
  • KFC’s name change (we still know that it’s fried chicken)
  • A tailor wearing off-the-shelf clothes
  • A lottery that won’t release funds to the needy (the very reason it was set up)
  • A politician talking peace and reconciliation whilst singing “bring me my machine gun”
  • A politician helping the poor in his Armani suit
  • Vermont trying to sort out the cholesterol problem
  • Frenchmen marching for chastity


My friend, copywriter and editor, Tiffany Markman is totally aware of her brand promise. She has to ensure that every piece of writing that carries her name is 100% correct. She even proofreads every email she sends out to ensure that it is correct. This is too much for my D-average English brain.
She’s made of the rite stuff and she’s write … if she makes one spelling mistake or grammatical error, she’ll lose credibility.

By the way if you didn’t pick up that I misspelled write and rite, then it would probably be a good idea to help you edit all your company documents 😉

Live on Purpose,


Workshops in November

Solution Selling – the 21st century sales professional
GoogleJuice – Internet Marketing

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