The Promise and the Reality


The Sheraton Skyline hotel in London (out by the airport) had the word “belong” plastered everywhere. If you’ve seen my speeches in the last little while, one of my favorite points to make is that “business is about belonging.” I thought to myself, “I wonder how Sheraton attempts to make me feel like I belong.”

I did a little research and found that Sheraton has been working on helping me feel like I belong since 2006. Evidently, they used to hand out 10 minute phone cards to encourage you to stay in touch with home. There were other touches in play then, too.

My experience wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t so much about belonging. The front desk process was pleasant. I was upsold into the Club area, which cost a bit more, but afforded me access to wifi (rooms only had wired internet), where I was served some drinks, some snacks, and could watch TV and the like (it looked a bit like the first class room at most airports- US level of quality, not Europe, which is to say, not as good).

What Is the Promise You Make and What Is the Reality?

I’ve been thinking about this as it applies to my own business and efforts. I promise to give people quite a useful and energetic and entertaining keynote. I have to deliver on that, or people won’t want me back. I promise to give my clients useful and actionable strategic consulting around business (primarily sales and marketing), communications, and technology, and if I don’t, then they don’t ask me back.

What are the promises you’re making, and what is the reality of what is delivered?

Now, think about that with regards to social media efforts. Just because you have a happy dappy intern talking sweetly about your whatever company on Twitter, does that relate to the experience people will have in your stores? If no, why promise one thing in your online channel and not deliver it when you get offline? How will these experiences match up?

Are you ready to make the promise that people BELONG at your business? And if so, what are you doing about it? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Raul Colon

    It is great that you are mentioning that happy intern (or employee) just chatting away without having any substance. 

    I guess in many occasions the intention to come through with the promise is there. Where we sometimes make the gap in communication is in the perception of what our customers and clients believe we promised and on the other side the perception on what we should have delivered.

    At the end of the day it is a work in progress to learn more about those that you are promising too. With all the noise most of these platforms create as your connections and communities grow this becomes a more difficult to task to handle. 

    I guess listening and opening various channels while asking to give you feedback and then taking action upon it might be a good way to we can deliver what others believe we promised. 

    My question know is. If what you feel you promised was delivered did you fulfill the promise on the other side?

  • Ryan Hanley

    Belong is a very interesting word and concept.

    I’m not sure that I could adequately describe how I make my clients “belong”.   I’m going to have to think on this a little.

    Thanks Chris!

    Ryan H.

  • John Murphy

    Reminded of advice given to me many years ago – people will not necessarily remember what you say, nor will they necessarily remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel. So true and worth remembering in our businesses.

  • Beth Torrie

    In BtoB, instead of BtoC, I have seen and felt customers “belong” to software companiess. Passionately taking what they like with them as they journey through their careers. “Belonging” is a strong concept for employees too. I have been lucky enough to work for a few companies that made me feel like I belonged there – even after I left. I have also felt the opposite.  Organizations who make employees belong are the ones who will be more likely to make their customers feel like they belong, instead of just telling them they belong. Nice piece. Thanks.

  • Phil Gerbyshak

    It’s a great reminder Chris: if we don’t deliver on our promises, they’ll find someone who will. And fast.

    But given there is feedback overload (everyone wants a survey now) and the fact that only the most happy or most unhappy share their feedback, how do we get the information we desperately need as business owners from those who are reluctant at best to provide it?

    • Raul Colon


      Sometimes I have to blame myself for not looking into ways where I can motivate those I work with peers, clients, collaborators, partners etc to share their insight. 

      Searching for an environment or a way to communicate with them in an informal way usually does it for me. The problem is I don’t do as often as I would like. 

  • Emily Newton (CLT))

    I think a lot of companies miss out on the deliverables to be made across the board, in terms of what they say to get my attention versus what they do to keep my attention. This is a terrific example you’ve presented. An important aspect of the unspoken promise is that if you are willing to leverage evocative, if vague, language in order to get your audience generating their own takeaways such as important, personal benefits they will then associate with your product, you would be well advised to take a moment to determine what those inferred benefits might look like and how you might go about delivering on them.

  • Bill Gibeault

    A Question that matters.  Promise vs. Reality – The reality is that most businesses can’t even define their promised customer experience.  How can their people deliver a consistent one to all customers ?  Bottom Line = Great potential for differentiation to those companies who are truly customer centric.  

  • Kradr2

    Oh, come on Chris, it works both ways too !

     How many times have these hotels had a Ms Jives rent out the hotel luxury  suites for the so call polka band and the next morning the rooms were gutted by the rock band with their guitars at 5 am in the morning?

  • Mike

    My vote for biggest disparity between promise and reality – Virgin. In the UK their advertising is founded on their offering of “Rock Star Service”. 
    Nice promise, snappy for advertising but my experience so far has been way short of what I expected. 
    Either that or Rock Stars these days get surly misleading advice, slow generic responses and general indifference to any problems you raise. On the plus side I’m no longer that fussed about being a Rock Star.

  • Tom Willis

    I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around “belong” and a hotel.  Probably more importantly I can’t imagine a pull there, so perhaps it’s more my heart than head.  Definitely seems vital to set a target that can be hit by engaging both heart and head.    

  • Marvin Kane

    Brings to mind  what in my opinion has become a joke – companies publishing their mission statement. I don’t mean the mission statement itself is a joke, but the fact the the rank and file workers in a typical company have no idea what the company’s mission statement is. If you’re going to put your neck out there by telling the world what your mission is, you better make sure it’s firmly rooted in the company’s DNA. The last thing you want is people laughing when they read your mission statement because their experience of your company tells them it’s  a crock.

  • Marc Ensign

    Just what the doctor ordered.  I love how you have “arrived” (whatever the heck that’s supposed to mean) and yet you are still constantly looking at yourself and what you offer HONESTLY and continue to tweak and ask yourself empowering questions.  Very inspirational, thanks!

  • Mary Ulrich

    Promises of Belonging is a perfect slogan, but how they deliver is everything. I can think of many promises which are only viewed from one person/company’s viewpoints. They don’t take the next step and see it from the customer’s viewpoint. Bob Evan’s Restaurant comes to mind. They make offers to “loyal” fans, and then hide stuff in the details which just make the customer mad.

  • Romy Singh

    Promising anything is way too easy, But Delivering it, is way too hard… I’ve seen many people promises many things but when it comes to delivering it, they don’t even remember what promise they made.. 
    For those type of people all i can say ” One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises that one makes”

  • Owen Marcus

    The question is – belong to what? As you know better than me, it’s more than to our businesses. They need to belong to the community and the culture we generate.

    I see my job is to host the party, invite the guests, introduce them to each other and then make sure everyone has what the need. The magic of their interaction creates the community they want to return to for more of that special juice.

    My passion is to help others create micro-communtities where we get to experience the depth of connection our ancestors had in their tribes. My experience is that we want to BELONG to a micro-community that gives us the experience of a shared life. A life that is supported by others who have our back, who champion our development and success and a place where we can let down to be ourselves.

    Chris… I look forward to seeing you at WDS!

  • Hannah Marcotti

    I have trouble thinking of people belonging to my business but when I think of it in terms of our community, I get the hell yes!

  • Brian

    I love the term “belong” as it relates to business. It’s such a holistic expression of gathering marketing, sales, customer service, and user experience folks into one fully functioning and thriving ecosystem.  Enjoyed this article!

  • Jeff Bronson

    Growth and change are a process.  ”
    Right, and it takes a mindset shift often to accept and manage change.

    I love the community based mindset for marketing . The days of the general , in your face broadcast message is rapidly shrinking.

  • Sammcdeezy

    for many bussiness and employees growth and change are apart of the business.
    But making someone belong to a bussiness is ver  interesting  and concept, that I would like to explore more in

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  • Yusuf Karaca

    can you write a article to my blog as guest writer

  • printed t-shirts

    This is the toughest bit.. meeting the level of expectation that is placed on yourself. this must be done with a degree of diligence.

    • masterpapers

      interesting thoughts

  • Jose Palomino

    It’s so important to create a marketing messages that properly aligns with what your business or products represents and actually does.  I remember there was a brief time when TD Bank had a marketing campaign about their “creativity.”  As a customer, I was scratching my head over this word choice, knowing that I didn’t really want my bank to be “creative,” but “convenient.”  Their current branding — as being “America’s most convenient bank” — resonates with me and aligns more appropriately with what they deliver.  This is a great reminder to ask ourselves if we’re properly aligning our messages with our offerings.  

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  • writingbee

    never thought about it.