“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.
There are warning signs that you may be complacent about your brand.
Better analytical tools are providing organisations with the capability of making smarter marketing decisions. As a result, the scientific element of marketing is growing in importance. In the midst of this science though, we should not lose sight of the fact that humans react to social connections (Matthew Lieberman) and relationships that engage them. It should not be a surprise to anyone that a customer wants to connect with brands that resonate with them.
I believe that often, this customer desire is perceived as brand loyalty. Organisations that use loyalty metrics on which to base their business decisions, must be careful not to fall into the trap of remaining in their marketing comfort zone. We will have a look later on about how organisations may become a little complacent in relation to their brand management and, in particular, their relationship building activity.
Perhaps another (jargon warning!) way of looking at how brand loyalty is not the same as engaging relationships is to observe how customers evaluate purchase decisions. The changing marketing paradigm means a move from relative evaluation (provided by traditional marketing messages e.g. ‘our washing powder washes whiter than yours’), to an absolute evaluation, where comparative information can be sourced from anywhere, by anybody. So customers are no longer buying from brand loyalty but are buying based on absolute information.
In such a scenario therefore, it is even more important to proactively engage with customers, online and offline, so as to retain them by providing the information they need. A good engagement marketing strategy is ideally placed to meet these challenges. It also offers guidelines for growing a business in collaboration with customers so knowledge of the ‘customer journey’ is a key to this strategy being successful.
Stop selling and start telling.
The foundation for any successful organisation has always been a founder’s long term vision of what she/he wants to achieve. In O’C&K we sometimes encounter small organisations, or start-ups, that don’t believe in the necessity for a vision statement. As I’ve alluded to above, customers are beginning to choose to deal with brands that give a damn about building engaging relationships.
Often it is the vision or the ‘brand story’ that resonates with them in the first place. Thereafter, they are more open to relationship building. In this digital age, with all its noise, it is important to know and communicate your vision so as to entice customers into being a part of it.
What I’m saying here is that organisations should stop selling and start telling. A story gives people a context for decision making. It allows your brand’s personality to shine through and gives relevance to what you do. Also, the tone of how you tell your story should be one that is like that of your existing or intended audience. The days of the boring old advertising campaign are over, in my opinion, because people can just switch it off, if you don’t resonate with them.
There is a plethora of new channels through which organisations can communicate. These channels allow for direct engagement with the customer and an interface at their level. As visuals are such an integral part of the online world, there is no excuse for campaigns not to be more interesting and engaging.
There is one BIG difference that organisations should take into account when developing an engagement strategy. That is the environment in which your audience engages with your brand. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart TVs etc. all deliver real time engagement, but in different contexts.
The user doesn’t care about how you got there, just that you are, and that you can help. Although you cannot control such environments, you can make an effort to create an experience that is relevant to the user. This is where an engagement strategy is paramount.
Tips and Timesavers.
There is a danger that when business is good, an organisation can get a little complacent about their brand and their marketing efforts. I wrote in a previous post, here, that some organisations can pick up bad marketing habits, but complacency must be one of the worst. The business landscape is changing fast, driven by customer expectations and their technology. You must keep up to speed or your competitors will whizz by you.
Here are some warning signs that you might be getting a little complacent about your brand.
- Your existing customers are not spending as much with you as they were. – You probably have no engagement strategy in place. You may have lost touch with your customer base by being too busy to listen to them. You don’t know what they want or expect from you anymore.
- Your lead conversions are down. – You might be basing your strategy on old research and your audience has changed. You are not using up-to-date sales tools that are available or you are not engaging with prospects in a way that they expect you to.
- Your ‘look’ is a bit old fashioned. – Is your brand identity getting a little jaded? You can modernise your identity without affecting your vision and while you’re at it – check out your website. Even if it is only a few years old, SEO, usability, download speeds etc. can all affect your customer’s experience. By the way, how do you compare with your competitors at trade shows?
- You still use dated photos for your marketing. – Changes in clothes, hairstyles, products, transport and even YOU, can all quickly date your image. You can upgrade sales proposals or presentations by using modern apps and plug-ins (often for free).
- You do not use social media channels. – You might be on social media, because a ‘friend’ or a competitor compelled you to set one up. It is important that you devote the time and resources to use these tools to their full effect.
- You don’t have the time to attend to any of the above. – Your existing marketing agency should be attending to these items or you can outsource projects to a small flexible company, such as ourselves.
Relationships are the new currency.
What organisations should realise is that nowadays, they must prepare to invest in engaging relationships. Everything they do, every piece of content they create from ads to emails should create a positive interaction so as to form a relationship. The interaction may be short lived, but it is still a first step. Thereafter, smarter marketing will build the relationship by using repeated engagement.
The only caveat I have for you here is to bear in mind that not everybody wants the same kind or relationship. The best kind of relationship is to provide your customer / prospect with the engagement they want, when and where they want it.
So, to summarise, don’t rely on presumed brand loyalty. Continuous relationship building is imperative, all of which should start with a positive interaction. Thereafter, repeated engagement how and when they want it, will form a ‘bond’. This bond is the difference that will stop your customer being tempted to move to a competitor. The ultimate achievement is that they would become your brand ambassador and we would love to help you with that objective.
If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page. Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers. Jim – O’C&K