New products and services are appearing daily. You see them everywhere, Twitgift, Cupcake ATM, Me Undies, Skillshare, Stripe, and thousands more! Likewise new business models and technologies are popping up like weeds in a field to strategically carve out new niches in existing categories. There is probably a new innovation in your category of business, which makes it that much more important to always be on the lookout for ways to connect with your customers and develop deep relationships with them. It’s about both developing and stimulating the purchase of new products and services that solve a problem and improve people’s lives. It’s about new processes, new business models, new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing, innovating, and creative ways to interact.
It’s not about a website, a logo, a CRM system, or how well you use social media.
Most organizations that I have observed invest little time in understanding their audience’s desired feeling. This is why many of these organizations resort to comfortable tactics of the past: price concessions
– likely because they’ve been commoditized, boring advertising –because it’s regarded as safe, coupons – because they’ve worked in the past, and other profit-eroding activities.
Brands that win in the new economy are defined by how they communicate and deliver expected feelings by way of an experience. And when you think about it, our experiences are changing rapidly, in part due to new innovations, technology, new products and services, more information, media influence, and word of mouth. All of these can affect the customer’s thoughts of your brand and your value to them. It’s been said, “Companies don’t go down from one fatal deathblow. They die from a thousand little marketplace cuts.”
Therefore, it’s prudent to keep your business nimble and be constantly on the lookout for your audience’s changing preferences and adjust by continually innovating. Ed Catmull, President of Pixar said, “When we try to avoid, stop, or control change, we get into trouble.”
Branding is strategy, a strategy that requires everyone in the organization to be focused on enhancing the feelings of the customer.
Following are some thoughts to consider regarding your brand:
- Marketing is about creating a strong brand
–a strong feeling. And that feeling is created through your audience’s experience with everything they sense about your company. The look and feel of your advertising, your website and email communications, your products and services, your billing and collections process, and especially your people.
- Marketing is not a function. It’s a philosophy, a philosophy of how you connect with your audience.
- Create and maintain a strong feeling with customers so they are mentally predisposed to continually choose and recommend you. And you accomplish this through planning and continuous innovation and execution of the ideas.
- Like it or not, the only way forward is to continually innovate.
- Design your business model to help customers decide on you, and decide on more from you.
- Branding is about discovering the why behind the buy
–the feelings of the customer, and then making sure that you stimulate those feelings. How? By providing things like a high quality product, hassle-free service, easy way to buy, create a show with every communication, and continually seduce by stimulating feelings.
- Align your sales process with your buyer’s buying process.
- Design your brain trust. Talent is the key.
- Have a plan for continually innovating.
- Execute a branding strategy that will enhance the customer experience and deliver results that affect your bottom line.
- Make sure everyone in the organization is focused on speaking to, and enhancing, the feelings of the customer. It’s not enough to assign this to someone, it’s leadership from top-down.
Resources and References
Tom Asacker, A Clear Eye For Branding, April 2005, Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.
Richard Abraham, Mr. Shmooze: The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships, 2002, The Richard Abraham Company, LLC.
B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore, The Experience Economy, 1999, Harvard Business School Press