If you are like most people, you probably believe you already know what a brand is and perhaps think it has nothing to do with you.
Sure, big companies like McDonalds, Lexus and Coca Cola have big brands. Everyone knows that. But pause for a moment and think about your favourite mom-and-pop restaurant, your preferred dry cleaners, or even your doctor.
Why do you go to those particular places for what you want? In those cases, you’re not shopping price, you’re shopping something else. Something intangible. Something called “brand”. It is not only about how good the food is or how fast they clean your clothes. It is a feeling you get when you go there.
The feeling may be that you are special; that you are a valued customer; that you believe they know you or actually care about you. Maybe they do.
Does your business give customers the “right” feeling? Curiously, what you think brings in your customers may be wrong. It is the customer’s truth that matters most. I prefer a certain coffee shop because I like the morning sunlight in their open, airy dining room and their iced tea is good. But I agree with the other regulars: Their food is pretty bad. Yet when I asked the owner, he assured me that his place is popular because of his great food.
It is crucial that you not only know the elements that make up your brand, but find ways to convey your unique brand identity in ways that will attract more customers who want what you’ve got.
Related: How To Brand Your Business
To figure that out for your business, reflect on these questions, and then poll them. Good brand awareness makes good sense.
What do people hear?
- Is there a voice or music that starts playing as soon as they hit your landing page? Could it be turning people off? Personally, I will leave any site that immediately gets noisy.
- Is there music in your business that attracts a certain age group? Does it repel another?
- When a prospect calls, are there dogs, kids, TVs, shouting, etc. going on in the background? If you aren’t in the business of pet grooming, daycare, television sales or marriage counselling (smile), these sounds shouldn’t be heard.
- Do you have annoying hold music? Or none at all? Or the kind that makes people feel anxious, even if it is your favourite song?
- Is it loud while they are in your place, when more customers might want quiet, or vice versa? Everyone has left a restaurant because it was too loud or too quiet. Make sure your noise level matches the brand reputation you want to build.
What do people see?
- Is your website some hokey, outdated template from two years ago that doesn’t help customers get where they need to go with minimal fuss?
- Are you using unpopular colours on your site, your walls, or your uniforms? Each country, each region has colour preferences. Look them up online if you don’t know yours. It’s not about you, it’s about the people you are trying to attract.
- Is your storefront appealing or messy? What’s the first thing people see when they step into your place of business?
- Is the first employee a customer sees unappealing in any way, texting on their phone, or otherwise a turn off to your customer?
- Is your place dark? If it’s not a tavern or a night club or a swanky restaurant, you are losing business if it is dark in your shop. The online equivalent is websites with black backgrounds and white words. (There are some exceptions). Note that the grocery store in town doing the most business is the one with the best lighting. This isn’t an accident.
What do people taste?
- You make think this sense applies only to places that serve food, but it doesn’t. Surprisingly, there are many ways to make sure your wares “taste” right to the customer.
- Obviously, is your food appealing? A group of researchers filled three bottles with the same tap water.Two bottles had the big brand labels. They affixed a made-up label to the third. Then they asked people to sip their usual brand, then try the “new” brand.Most taste testers were able to identify multiple differences between “their” brand and the new water. But all three bottles contained the same water!It is the brand positioning that determined the customer response, not the water itself.
- Is your place of business in “good taste”? Everyone has seen calendars of women in bikinis on the wall of an auto repair shop, but is that making any of the customers uncomfortable?If your office furniture is a mishmash of second hand stuff, your desk is a mountain of clutter and old coffee cups, or your space is crammed with dusty old stuffed animals or your beloved collection of Barbie dolls, would you guess that the majority of customers and prospects see that as being “in good taste”? Probably not. Does your furniture belong to a prosperous business or one hanging on by the tips of its fingernails?
- Do people walk away from a customer service interaction with you or your team with a “good taste in their mouth”?
What do people smell?
- There’s a lot of research into smells and how they unconsciously affect customers. That’s why you can smell McDonald’s fries blocks away. That’s why when you walk into certain stores in the mall, you smell a specific scent. Is there a scent you could subtly share near your entrance to anchor that into your customers’ minds? Our olfactory sense – the sense of smell – is thought to be one of the most primal and the most memorable.
- Naturally, it is important customers don’t smell anything unpleasant. Like that garlic pizza box you stuffed in your desk drawer…last week. Or the banana peel in your trash. It seems such a small thing, but you have the opportunity to control the entire customer experience, so you may as well make it optimal. At the very least, get a bottle of Febreeze.
- People who do not have pets or who do not like a certain type of animal (or have allergies) can immediately smell an animal in someone’s office. Unless you are a vet or a groomer, it is probably a good idea to make sure that your pet is bathed regularly, its bedding in the office is washed often and careful attention is paid to any “accidents”.
What do people feel?
- Is your place grungy or dirty? Are your restrooms? Women usually notice this stuff. Once, I was lying in a hospital bed watching an orderly “mop” my room, but he was just swishing debris around with a rag mop. He didn’t cover even 30% of the surface. No one I care about will ever use that hospital again. If customers feel like they have to go take a shower after being in your establishment, you’ve got a problem.
- Do people feel like you’re glad they are there or like you’re an imposition?
- Does your sales pitch make them feel slimed?
- When the minimum wage clerk you hired mumbles “May I help you?”, do you really think that is engaging the customer and making them feel welcome?
- When it takes you 48+ hours to respond to an email, or an online inquiry, or a complaint – does that make the customer feel valued?
- Do you feel like your doctor – who has seen more of your body than most people – would recognise you if you approached him or her in a public place? Would you recognise your customers, even your best ones? The more special you can make your customers feel, the more loyal they will feel toward your business.
- When they leave your place of business or your website, what feeling do they experience? Are they smiling or running for their car?
- If you sell online, does your relentless, thoughtless, overwhelming follow up sequence make them feel like they got their lips wrapped around a fire hose inadvertently? Your opt-outs will answer this question.
The “five senses check” is a good idea to run your business through twice a year, so you can be sure what you’re doing is aligning with the brand you are trying to establish. Consistent, positive, reliable, repeatable brand interaction is a key component in any business’ success.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Top Marketing Trends For 2019
When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?
Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.
The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:
1. Say hello to the social CEO
Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.
Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.
Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.
2. Initiate conversations
While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.
For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.
Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.
3. Keep it local
Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.
Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit.
4. Try Instagram ads
As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.
Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.
5. Personalise email communication
Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.
Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.
Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.
Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
6. Post in real time
In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.
In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.
This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.
Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.
4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From
Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.
Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.
Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.
The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.
In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:
- What products do they want?
- Where should you make them available?
- How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
- How and where to promote your product?
The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.
Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.
Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.
While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.
Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.
In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,
“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.
Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.
In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline
“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),” adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.
“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”
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