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Design For The Customers You Want

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

Almost every cosmetic counter in the department store has a promotion happening. Of course, they aren’t called promotions—they are presented as ‘free gifts’, designed to encourage the customer to spend more on a particular brand that month. The hope is that the customer will fall in love with the products and become a customer for life.

These marketing tactics can work in the short term. It is possible to see an increase in sales when you give customers something for nothing. But these tactics also condition the savvy shopper only to buy when they are incentivised with special offers and discounts, or worse, to switch brands according to whichever one offers the ‘best deal’ when the product runs out.

While companies and business owners lament about changes in consumer behaviour, we must also take responsibility for our part in shaping that behaviour. If we want customers to be loyal to our brand, then we need to work out what, apart from price, might encourage that loyalty.

We don’t get the customers or clients, the readers or listeners we want by accident. We get them by intentionally crafting the experiences and the messages that change how the right people, think and feel—which in turn changes what they do and the kind of customer they become.

Image by Elaine Smith

Worthy Of Your Marketing

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

When we’re planning a party, we know its success depends on the preparation we do in advance, often before the invitations are sent. Every detail, from the food to the table settings, the lighting to the music is carefully choreographed in anticipation of the guests’ arrival.

When we’re marketing, especially when we’re marketing online, we do the opposite. We spend the majority of our time working out how to get people to the party (our website, podcast or blog), and not enough time giving them a reason to stay once they get there.

The products, services and online experience you’re crafting for your customers need to be worthy of your marketing. Throw a party that’s worth coming to.

Image by gomagoti

The Loyalty Department

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

My mum, (who is in her late seventies) wanted to negotiate the renewal of her internet and phone contract. She dialled the customer support number listed on her bill and was placed on hold for 30 minutes. When she finally got through to a human being, she was transferred to the ‘loyalty department’. She waited on hold for a further 40 minutes before being connected to someone who could help her. The duration of the call was 1 hour 37 minutes and 26 seconds.

This company and other internet service providers are competing on price. Customers see new, cheaper service bundles advertised and are tempted to switch because the pain of switching is outweighed by the savings they will make. Customers no longer see the benefit of sticking with the company they’ve previously been loyal to unless that company price matches its competitors—which is inevitably what happens when existing customers pick up the phone. Customers who persist with the unacceptable call wait times get a better deal. If the loyalty department speaks to too many customers who want to renegotiate their contract, that affects the company’s bottom line.

We spend more resources to woo new customers than we do to earn the continued loyalty of the customers we already have. When the quality of what we sell or serve is barely distinguishable from that of our competitors, we must find other ways to differentiate. One of those ways is by being true to our customers and having a ‘loyalty department’ that lives up to its name. Loyalty shouldn’t only benefit the company—it should work both ways.

Image by Mabel Amber


The Distinction Between Needs And Wants

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

When we visit the doctor with a health problem, we are keen to have our immediate needs met. Perhaps we need pain relief or a blood test. Maybe we need a diagnosis and treatment. But alongside the desire for a physiological solution is the yearning for our intangible wants to be fulfilled. We need treatment, and we want empathy. A good doctor treats us—a great doctor makes us feel better. We value the great doctor’s ability to do both.

Things are no different when it comes to other experiences in our lives. Our hunger is satisfied when we eat the meal we ordered, but we enjoy the food more when the service exceeds our expectations.

There may be little room to differentiate your product or service based on customer needs, but the ability to differentiate on their wants is exponential. It’s possible to meet needs and wants in every interaction. How are you doing that?

Image by NYC Health

Bridging The Change Gap

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

We know that attention is the first essential step on the path to influencing others. We also know it’s not possible to inspire people to act or to create change with attention alone. There’s always a gap between gaining awareness, enabling action and gaining traction. You can buy attention, but you can’t buy trust. Trust is earned. Trust takes time. Trust is the enabler of connection and persuasion. The time between attention and action is what I call the Change Gap. To close this gap, we must first build trust and then reinforce the opinions and beliefs of the audience we’re trying to reach.

We bridge this gap with connection and persuasion. This is why for example, a hotel’s reviews on websites like TripAdvisor can make or break the business. When every hotel has a comfortable bed and free Wi-Fi, prospective guests are looking for another way to differentiate offerings, and reviews enable them to do that.

The act of persuasion gives people the opportunity to confirm whether what they believe is true. Things like providing more and accurate information, product features, measurements, photographs, pricing, demonstrations, reviews or recommendations help people to decide if your product or service is for them.

There are many real-world examples of companies who have successfully bridged the Change Gap, and industries that have been spawned by doing so. Think about the products and services we didn’t know we wanted but now consume or use regularly. Bottled water, ride-sharing services, reusable coffee cups, coworking spaces, bean-to-bar chocolate, yoga pants, nail bars, coconut oil and meal kits are just a few. The people and companies who convinced so many of us to try these products and services bridged the Change Gap by being purposeful storytellers. The same opportunity is open to you.

*Excerpted from The Right Story.

Image by Garry Knight

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