My Cat’s Name is Isis
Ian Lurie Oct 4 2016
Yes, there’s a marketing lesson here. But when I tried to write “How Digital Marketing is Like Naming My Cat Isis” I almost punched myself in the throat.
I have two cats, a dog, and a guinea pig.
One of my cats, an insane, overweight Siamese, is named Isis.
She was so named long before the terrorist organization popped up. But now, every damned time I mention her, I get one of four reactions:
“Man, that’s an unfortunate name.”
“Why not just name her Taliban?” (followed by a chuckle)
“Did you name her after the terrorists?”
“Did you name the other one Bin Laden?”
Ignore political correctness for a second. Isis is the sweetest, nicest (craziest) cat ever. She purrs at 10 decibels. She is a professional cuddler, taking Gold in the Keep You Sitting On the Couch competition five years in a row. Look at this face!!!
But it doesn’t matter. The first impression is the name. People immediately associate her with crazed gun-toting bigoted asshats. And they never stop.
I bet she’s on some feline no-fly list.
There’s a marketing lesson here
The point: A bad impression is like that time you let lettuce turn to brown liquid in your fridge. You can clean it up, but the stench lasts a long time.
Better to get things right from the get-go.
I talk a lot about fast loading web pages, writing well, and distance from perfect. I harp on it all because the first .5 seconds someone spends with you (or your website) makes an impression. If it’s the wrong impression, you’re screwed. It’ll take a long time to fix it.
And the wrong impression can be subtle. Everyone who jokes about my cat’s name thinks they’re funny. But her name sticks in their psyche. They avoid eye contact with her (that may be because she’s cross-eyed). I can hear their voices hitch a little when they mention her: “Yes, Ian has a cat named… Isis.”
Imagine the impact when a website takes 5+ seconds to load on a mobile device. Or a drop-down menu evades my mouse cursor, turning my attempt to look at a product into a video game. Or product copy is awful. Or a blog post is a lousy pop culture reference.
Those things have an impact. You can fix them, sure. But the first impression remains. You need to get it right the first time.
Even my cat can tell you that.
CEO & Founder
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More