Happy customers or Loyal fans - which does your business have?

Happy customers versus loyal fans.

Happy customers are often on the top ten list of business goals, but what does that really mean?

A customer is happy if their last experience with your brand was a good one.  It's a moment in time thing - I got great customer service or I loved the painless online check out.

Happy, says you met their immediate needs and hopefully left them feeling good about their decision to choose you over the alternatives. With luck, there's a good chance that this customer will come back for more.

What if three months later, that same customer revisits your store or website and the staff have changed or the interface has been updated. Now they might not be able to find what they need. There's no number to call, the customer service is non existent. Are they still happy?

Loyal fans are more than happy customers 

They are completely bought into your brand. They're so convinced of your product that even when you don't deliver to their expectations, they will still continue to favour you, (for a while) because they want to believe in the promises your brand makes.

Humans, like dogs, have an inbuilt need to be loyal.  Maybe you always go to the same garage to have your car serviced, (even though it's not the cheapest) or you wear a particular label (despite it being dry clean only), but in these heady days of limitless choice, our loyalties are regularly tested.

Business goals aimed at making customers consistently happy, through repeatable great experiences lead to loyal fans.

In a world where perception is 99% reality, keeping the promises your brand makes, will take you beyond happy customers and boost returns for years to come.

Think longterm.

Respect is earned.
Honesty is appreciated.
Trust is gained.
Loyalty is returned.


3 Simple Ways to Build Your Brand

Miscommunication, communication, couple thinking different things

Our world is very noisy. Thousands of pieces of marketing content are hurled at us every day and yet our ability to consume these communications remains unchanged.  What has changed is the attention we're willing to give any one thing, so much so, that it's even got it's own term - continuous partial attention.

Our brains are finely tuned to respond to messages which touch our hearts, teach us something new and, or present content in an unforgettable way.  In other words, nobody is interested in information anymore - entertain us, educate us and leave a lasting impression by all means, but don't expect a response if all you serve are the facts.

So how could your business take advantage of this human condition? Think like a publisher.

1. Make an emotional connection

Who is most likely to buy your product or service?. How are you going to convince them to choose your brand over the alternatives available? Answer -  make them feel something. Since hearts often rule heads, those brands which challenge us to become emotionally involved, often pique our interest and therefore get the sale. They don't call it retail therapy for nothing.
e.g. Hyundai message from space commercial 

2. Add the novelty factor

Using the very prim lady in the advert below, to talk about the delicate subject of poo, is both unexpected and funny. It's often the novelty of a companies approach which grabs our attention in the first instance. We like the new and the surprising, but be sure to tailor this to the audience you're trying to attract. Humour is a delicate balancing act.
e.g.  Poo pourri

3.  Be memorable

Making your brand a household name, is every marketers dream and yet much of the content on offer is full of well worn stereotypes and pat phrases (see this is a generic brand video).  We see the same things so often that they become invisible to us, losing their magic.

The mad men of yesteryear made products memorable by adding jingles and bold images.  Some things never change - Apple think different commercial or Nike Just do it 

Think of what you've liked, shared and talked about today and remember that your marketing has to resonate with real people in disguise as consumers, audiences and personas.

In the words of Viggo Mortensen “There's no excuse to be bored.  Sad, yes.  Angry, yes. Depressed, yes.  Crazy, yes.  But there's no excuse for boredom, ever”.

Go, create.


3 lessons in the art of selling from Kickstarter

I have a confession.

I think I'm hooked on funding Kickstarter projects .

It started innocently enough, backing Seth Godin (a noted giant of the marketing world).  I love his work, there was no risk, it was a win win. Then came Duncan Shotton and his glorious rainbow pencils and that was the start of the slippery slope.  I joined the mailing list and now have my credit card on standby, as the ‘Projects We Love’ email drops into my inbox.

How did this happen?  Why do these serial entrepreneurs wield such power?

Searching through those who make and often exceed their targets, the commonalities are clear.

1. They have personality (in spades)

People buy from people - it's the age old mantra.  That's why kickstarters have to present their ideas via video.  According to a new Cisco report, by 2018 over 75% of all traffic will be video based, proving that people really do have to see to believe.

Whether you've heard of the product or not, those who succeed, use their screen debut to ooze personality.  They help us decide to take the risk and make that pledge, by telling a story, from how the idea began, to their vision for the future.  They know that having the viewer trust that they can deliver on their promises, is the only way to get them to press the big green button. As an aside, what a great idea to make the backing button green - green for go, green for good and fresh and new, you get the idea.

2. They make us part of the process

Selling ideas is really about finding or even building a community who want to buy them. That's why marketing departments spend large portions of their budget on generating content to attract and retain relevant audiences. Kickstarter takes this to extremes, adding the emotional factor, that without your funding, this fabulous, new, ‘must have’ will never reach the market.  Feel the pressure?

Here, at the click of a button, a community is born.  Every funder feels like a hero for getting the project out of its starting blocks.  We see that a number of other backers have endorsed what is now, our idea, of a great project. We feel part of something - a secret group of early adopters with a vested monetary interest in success and that makes us care, share and talk about each venture, as though it were our own. Brilliant.

3. They test ideas and listen for feedback

For the price of a two minute video, entrepreneurs can test their audience, to see if there is enough interest to make their idea a viable business.  If it bombs and/or there are no pledges, it's back to the drawing board, without having spent their life savings on marketing and advertising.  TeamYoga is a great example of this.  Maybe there isn't a market for poseable toys just yet, but could that be because not enough children are doing yoga? What could they do to encourage this market?  Their kickstarter investment may have saved them from financial disaster or even inspired them afresh to take a new approach.  Either way, it was worth the broadcast.

So, if you find yourself hovering over that big green button, please get in touch.  We can form a support group.


A Quick Way To Establish Your Brand And Its Values

Branding is generally associated with external audiences e.g. customers, prospects, partners, investors and press. Everything your company does, communicates your brand to the waiting world. From website to letterhead, receptionist to location, it all helps potential customers to decide how to respond to your outreach.

Branding is just as important for your internal audience (existing and future staff), but more often than not, when I speak to a new client, there's a lack of agreement between employees, around who their company is and what it does for its customers.

If you find yourself struggling to reach consensus across your organisation, answering the following questions can really help.
  1. What words would you use to describe [insert company name] today?
  2. What words would you like to be using to describe [insert company name] 5 years from now?
  3. Who or what do you regard as your main competitors?
  4. Which words would you use to describe the competitors mentioned in question 3?
  5. Why do/would customers choose [insert company name] over the alternatives available?
  6. Which one attribute would you want [insert company name] to be known for?
  7. In your own words, what does [insert company name] do?
There are no right or wrong answers in this exercise.  Think of it as structured brain storming.  Ideally you should gather as many responses as possible - you can keep it to employees only or invite customer and distributor input too.  Look for patterns in the replies that you collect.  What sort of language is being used - descriptive, market jargon, active or passive voice?  Where are the gaps i.e. which questions did respondents struggle with most?

As a rough rule of thumb, your brand values, are the words which you'd use to describe yourself now and in the future, (the overlap in answers between questions 1 and 2). They are the essence of what your company stands for and should help potential customers to form expectations of service, quality, credibility etc.

Questions 3 and 4 help you define the market that you're in and let you compare the alternatives, just as your potential customers will, when making a purchase decision.  Make sure to include the internet and apathy alongside your named competitors, because todays endless choices often result in people making no decision at all.

Question 5 is designed to make you think about the benefits your product/service supplies, in the minds of your potential customers. Often companies present benefits in terms of product features rather than the actual value that customers gain from buying or using your product.  Think about how your product makes people feel, as well as what they actually get.  Knowing why people choose your brand makes messaging and content creation much easier.

Question 6 cuts to the core value.  What do you stand for?  If you say Volvo, people think of safety, and this trait has been stated in every marketing message that they produce, to convince us of its truth.  Brands need to  have a purpose.  None of us want to buy from faceless corporations.  What's at the heart of your organisation?

Question 7 tests whether you have a value proposition or not.  It's amazing how even people in the same department will paint a very different picture of their brand, when asked what their company does.  This is hardly surprising since we tend to define a company by our role in it, however, building your brand is about clearly and consistently sharing what you stand for, to position your offering in the hearts and minds of potential customers. If it seems like I've now looped back to the first paragraph in this post, then you can see how this all fits together.

In this age of social sharing, understanding your brand and its values, let's you define and reach your audience in ever more granularity.  Knowing who you appeal to and why, gives you the best chance of return on your marketing budget and there's no longer any excuse to mass market and hope something sticks.   As the saying goes, if you aim at nothing, you're bound to hit it.


Keeping Pace with change