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A Marketing Equation:

Marketing Effort + Effects of Positive Opinion - Effects of Negative Opinion = Marketing Effectiveness

In business communications, there is little recognition that, typically, a significant percent of the market doesn't think well of you and may even hate you. Many will do anything they can to drag you down.

In Net Promoter terminology, that percent comprises the detractors. If your organization were a sailboat, your marketing attempts would be slowed by dragging an anchor of negative opinion.

If 20% of your market has a negative opinion of your brand and each person shares that negative opinion with five others while the 80% with a positive opinion each tells only one other person, within a short time the market will be more negative than positive.

New prospects coming to the market will more likely hear negative things about your brand. Current customers, even those with a positive opinion, will either shift to defending you or just shut up. Negative opinion poisons your market and your ability to clean it up.

The effectiveness of the most brilliant integrated marketing-communications campaign will be reduced by the effects of negative opinion. Since few companies recognize the extent of those negative effects, the poison spreads, sometimes undetected or worse: It's detected but ignored.

Meanwhile, your ability to effectively communicate and influence your market is being eroded as relationships go bad. Fixing negative opinion will result in far more effective results from your marketing and communications as the anchor of negative opinion is hauled in.

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Michael F. Kelly is the CEO of Techtel Corporation (www.techtel.com), which tracks brand opinion and addresses issues of corporate reputation. Reach him at mkelly@techtel.com or via LinkedIn.