The Day I Pissed Everyone Off

It was 2006 and it was the first day I was opening the doors to my fitness club. I was twenty four years old with everything on the line and I was excited and nervous at the same time.

I wanted to bring awareness to my club so I decided to print 5000 postcards and put them under the windshield wipers of all the cars in a one mile radius from my location. I couldn’t do it by myself so I asked my younger brother if he could gather a few friends and go out and distribute them for me. They placed the postcards under the windshield wipers of every car they saw for the next two hours while I waited impatiently for the phone to ring.

At 3pm I got my first phone call. To my surprise the man was enraged, he said that my flyer was stuck to his windshield. I did my best to calm him down, I hung up the phone and ran to my parking lot. As I walked out the door I noticed it was raining. The first car I remember vividly was a Porsche 911. I grabbed the postcard on the windshield and pulled it off only to realize the other half was glued there. My heart stopped, the postcards I had printed had a gloss finish on them and with the rain it made them stick. “Shit, shit, shit” was my reaction.

I was panicking, everyone was starting to get out of work and here I was on my first day of business pissing everyone around off. I called my brother to come back but he and his friends were long gone. They wouldn’t of had time anyway.

I went back in the club and the phone started to ring non-stop. People calling and yelling at me. I needed to do something so I told my staff that I was leaving and that when someone calls to complain to message me and I would go out and clean their windshield.

It was a marketing disaster but it also turned out to be one of the greatest lessons I learned (and I’m not talking about the gloss finish.)

Awareness and trust work as a circle. Awareness without trust is useless.

In this case. I destroyed trust from the start by interrupting them in a way they didn’t want to be interrupted. But to be trusted you also need awareness or no one will know about you.

So the big question is:

How do you gain trust and awareness at the same time?


Originally published at Jean-Luc Boissonneault.

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