Obama Hugger Suffers Business Backlash

We try to stay away from politics as much as possible, even during the U.S. Presidential election season, but one item this week just cried out to be looked at more closely for the benefit of small business owners. That was the case of Big Apple Pizza owner Scott Van Duzer of Ft. Pierce, Fla., who made headlines Sunday for bear-hugging President Barack Obama during the President’s visit to his establishment. The fallout from the incident has been blogged about by many in the business community because of what it has to say about the dangers of mixing business and politics and the power of social media to affect your brand. Here’s more analysis:

Bear Hugs and Boycotts

Biting the hand that feeds. First, Van Duzer is a registered Republican but supports the President, a Democrat, anyway. Some critics took to Yelp, the customer review site, after the incident, with one user questioning why Van Duzer would risk his business by potentially alienating half his customers who don’t support Obama. Los Angeles Times

Branded a traitor. While one angry troll on Yelp vowed he would never eat at Van Duzer’s restaurant because of his support for Obama, others soon appeared to defend the small business owner and improve his Yelp rating in the process. But he says he also faces a boycott of his restaurant from those angry over his politics. Newser

Critically Acclaimed

Yelp needs some help. The thing about both Yelp entries attacking Big Apple Pizza and those supporting the business is that many of the entries had little or nothing to do with the quality of the restaurant’s food. Blogger Greg Sterling points out the worst part of this is that technically many of the comments violate the review site’s terms of service, raising questions about the kinds of comments the site is allowing. Search Engine Land

The other side of the coin. Despite the problems seen in the case of Big Apple Pizza, Yelp and other social media sites can be great, simple ways for small businesses to establish a Web presence even without resources to  design a Website. Customer feedback is the best way to build your brand, so consider, absent the politics, how these tools can work for you. Small Biz Diamonds

The Right to Remain Silent

Don’t wear it on your sleeve. Sales consultant Paul Castain has some advice for business people when it comes to your politics during this contentious political season (and the rest of the time for that matter.) Keep it to yourself! Ask yourself whether venting your political views is worth losing a sale or losing business. Sales Playbook

Enjoy the parade. The best thing to remember for small business owners watching the Presidential election cycle is that very little proposed by either of the two major parties will do anything to help most small businesses, says small business journalist Dawn R. Rivers. Rivers’s advice is to ignore the promises and work on running your business instead. Small Business Trends

A Vote of Confidence

If you can’t beat ’em. It’s not all bad news. In fact, from the importance of branding, to making yourself accessible, to the power of data, the Presidential race can teach small business owners and entrepreneurs plenty about how to create a powerful campaign for their own products or services. Bus!ness Signs

3 Reactions
  1. It’s so hard to do.

    (Staying out of politics as a small business owner.)

    I can’t seem to do it very well.

    And, I’m not sure if I really want to.

    The Franchise King®

    • I find that I have little to gain and much to lose by allowing my political views to be known to my clients. I am quite liberal and basically believe that Washington is horribly broken and little is being done to fix it.

      If I am asked my political viewpoint I throw out some political triple speak and then laugh it off with “who in the hell knows what the politicians are going to do? All I know is most likely it won’t be good for us… ”

      Like Chik Fil A is finding out your supporters may rally for a day or even a month, but the folks that strongly disagree with you will hate you for life.

  2. I don’t know if Scott Van Duzer’s will be able to sell more pizza after hugging the President of the United States of America. It will be interesting to see how many potential customers will vote with their wallet and go to The Big Apple Pizza, or to some other food establishment.

    Yelp’s advantage compared with other review sites, is that the reviews have been linked to users that have been at the actual place they have reviewed. Has Obama written a review?! 😉

    I say the same thing as Joel, I have a hard time to stay out of politics and I am not sure that I want to do it, that is why I have a mission to spread better ideas on business philosophy and new media.