What’s your brand’s reputation worth?

The customer’s emotional connection to a brand’s reputation reflects their values and beliefs

Customers select brands that align with their values.

The customer’s emotional connection to a brand’s reputation reflects their values and beliefs

It has been documented by several top-flight management consulting firms that B-to-B brands can achieve brand loyalty by providing positive experiences across multiple touchpoints. While I agree with this statement, it fails to take into account the customer’s emotional connection with the brand’s reputation. Their emotional connection is the real estate between the customer’s ears. Owning this can be a competitive advantage because it makes the competition work harder and invest more to be considered in the evaluation segment of the considered purchase process.

What’s your brand’s reputation worth?

Aside from an intangible asset listing for “goodwill” on the financial statement, studies have show that companies with strong brands have a higher EBIT margin than those with weak brands. This can be attributed to the buyer’s positive perception of the brand based on its reputation in the industry segment.

Small companies that invest consistently in their brand’s reputation can command premium pricing, leading to ownership of the high-end segment of the industry. This can cause larger competitors to adjust their price point and product offering to appeal to a less sophisticated user, resulting in smaller profit margins.

Purchasing cycle touchpoints

The traditional B-to-B purchasing funnel has been disrupted. No longer is it a linear journey but more of a spiral with blended phases. These phases consist of awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchase, and advocacy. During any one of the phases, the buyer can spin off into a new search when social media or peer recommendations influences the brand’s reputation. Of course, building a personal relationship is still the most effective means of influencing the purchasing decision. However, in the digital age, a majority of buyers have already their completed their due diligence by the time the sales representative is brought into the loop.

Brand investment marketing touchpoints:

  • Website
  • Advertising
  • Sales collateral
  • Press releases, feature articles
  • Social media networks
  • Industry trade shows

Customer messaging that connects

B-to-B customer communications has primarily focused on product feature/function and innovation. Additional themes have been security of supply, global reach, and customer service. While the above topics are important, there is a shift in customer sentiment and a yearning to know more of the brand story. This shift represents an opportunity to enhance the brand reputation by communicating, for example, how it treats supply chain vendors in developing countries, or supporting social causes that benefit a population segment or environmental causes that protect natural resources.

Customers select brands that align with their values. The Wal-Mart brand stands for low cost, Audi stands for automotive engineering excellence, and Whole Foods stands for locally sourced organic produce. Visit any of the brands’ stores or showrooms and you will see an alignment with their customer value systems. Brands that speak to their customer’s values and beliefs will have an enduring reputation and lasting value within that segment.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Investing in your brand perception

Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Emotional ties create strong brand loyalty

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Do your customers suffer from “E-fluenza”?

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Too much digital messaging drives us to distraction

Everyday the pipeline of digital messaging is expanding. And because of this, our ability to take in, absorb and comprehend is becoming less and less.

E-mail, text, social network advertising, CRM software, and websites are increasingly shouting to be heard above a sea of keyword flotsam and search terms.

What can marketers do to improve their digital messaging?

Simplify your message

Clarity of thought drives consistent messaging. Formulate your value proposition and concentrate on what you do well. If the reader has to think too much, odds are you will lose their attention. One test for simplifying your messaging – have a teenager read your website home page, then ask them what your company does.

Design for humans, not for bots and crawlers

Some web analysts claim that up to 65% of web traffic are bots and crawlers reporting back to search engines. That leaves 35% for human consumption. Humans are drawn to good design and content that connects on an emotional level. Highly visual websites that use strong imagery can convey more emotional connection than text-heavy analytical sites.

Understand your customer’s decision-making process

Arrange content in a natural flow that identifies customers’ concerns and problems, allowing customers to contemplate your solution through a linear progression of small steps. Using this approach builds customer confidence in your solution and reinforces their decision that your approach is best. Provide case studies, user reviews, and technical literature along the way as needed to confirm their decision. Consider providing a redeemable coupon to enhance the purchasing experience.

Build the relationship

There has to be a human connection to sustain a relationship. If not, then the purchasing decision is relegated to the lowest price to achieve the desired results. Improve brand consideration by communicating the brand story through thoughts and actions that resonate with the customer. Influence the purchasing decision by aligning with causes that benefit the industry as a whole.

The purchasing decision is a series of small steps, so make the steps easy and communicate in real terms, not industry jargon. Remember that no one wants to be sold to. The only one that receives any emotional benefit from that approach is the seller. Instead, assume the role of trusted advisor or consultant, enabling the purchaser to make their own decision based on the features, benefits, and solution that best fulfills their needs.

Simplifying your digital messaging and appealing to customers’ emotional needs is a sure cure for their “E-fluenza,” replacing their confusion with your solution.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Social media content strategy

RESPECT the customer

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Air charter: Defining your brand

Brand differentiation is a process beginning with defining your product and service offering.

Brand differentiation is a process beginning with defining your product and service offering.

On-demand air charter customers seek a better brand experience.

With over 2500 air charter operators in the United States, competition is fierce for acquiring and keeping customers. While the focus of on-demand air travel is safety, security, and productivity, charter operators should not overlook the value of the emotional connection that customers need to establish with their brand.

Determining your point of differentiation

Taking a strategic approach to brand differentiation is a process beginning with defining your product and service offering. For this first step, it’s important to review your assets and how they match up to the market need. Depending upon your footprint — international, national, or regional – this analysis defines the value of your product and service offering.

For example, if your service is mostly used by sportsmen to access fishing and hunting camps, that’s a different value proposition than offering international jet service.

Brand attributes and benefits

Next, list the feature, function and end user benefit of the service offering. Think of this in terms of equipment, pilot experience and training, safety record, ease of doing business, customer satisfaction, and problem/resolution during the charter operation.

Business segments

Analyzing the business segments that your charter service will depend on for paying the bills is also important. For example, on the Gulf Coast, many charter operators rely on the energy sector for shuttling workers to and from offshore drilling platforms. Identifying specific business segments, individual companies, and decision makers and influencers helps to narrow the focus and formulate key messages.

This area also provides the opportunity to gain customer insight based on decision makers’ perception of the service offered, in order to determine the best communication channel to reach the audience with your differentiation messaging.

Brand personality

To borrow a page from consumer package goods marketers, viewing your charter service as a brand helps define its personality, points of differentiation, and key messages. This forms the foundation for your brand promise and the experiences that customers can expect from selecting your on-demand charter service.

Taking a strategic approach to define your brand leads to more efficient marketing, better use of marketing resources, and helps to create an emotional connection with your customers.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Finding your voice

Creating the foundation for brand differentiation

Emotional branding requires delivering a memorable experience

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Social media content strategy

Social media content, when used as an integrated marketing tool, can extend the reach of advertising.

Why platform selection affects the quality and quantity of social media content

Social media, love it or leave it, is hard to get away from. What started as digital networks where like-minded users could connect and share information has grown into a multi-billion dollar network catering to sophisticated brand advertising and user generated content.

Platform selection influences quality of social media content

B-to-B brands seeking to use social media for engagement need to understand the strengths and limitations of their selected social platform. Where Facebook is perceived as a more B-to-C retail platform, there are numerous examples where B-to-B brands have used the platform to connect with rural outlying communities where their facilities are located.

Each platform has its own particular tone and style. Understanding this allows for social media content to be developed to show a more human side of the brand or a more technical competency based on the objectives of the social media effort.

Objectives can include the following:

  • Community relations
  • Recruitment
  • Health and safety
  • Product comparison
  • Thought leadership
  • New product introduction
  • Forwarding of content via social network
  • New business inquiry

Achieving any of the above identifies content that is conceptually sound, produced with a purpose, and deemed valuable by its intended audience.

Content that lacks strategic direction is hastily cobbled together, short on authenticity, and not tied to a specific objective is probably a waste of time and resources.

Key take away: Having a platform presence without a strategy is not sustainable and will quickly lead to abandonment.

Integrating social media content with other marketing tools

Social media content, when used as an integrated marketing tool, can extend the reach of advertising. This complementary function is much like the support of public relations. Done correctly, social media content can capture an influencer’s attention, leading to additional content generated with the appearance of endorsement.

Key take away: Social media content is a complementary tool not intended to carry the entire marketing load.

How much social media content is needed to be effective?

The internet is a content eating machine. In order to stand out in the sea of sponsored display advertising and user generated content, advertisers should be prepared for a long term commitment to social media content development and treat it with an evergreen journalistic approach.

Key take away: The best strategy is to develop a library of content that has a long shelf life.

Social media has its limitations

The one thing social media can’t do is provide sustainable scale. By its very nature, it is fragmented – subject to the reader’s value system and point of view. Accuracy of regenerated content cannot be guaranteed and may do more harm than good.

The use of social media by B-to-B brands is accelerating. Taking a strategic approach to integrating social media into the marketing mix requires creativity and a willingness to try something different.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

How to write effective online copy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

7 questions for better presentations

Successful presentations motivate the audience to take a specific action.

Successful presentations motivate the audience to take a specific action.

Create presentations that are more powerful and results oriented.

Successful presentations motivate the audience to take a specific action. It’s about presenting a solution based on a point-of-view that the audience can relate to on a personal and professional level.

Answer these 7 questions before scripting your presentation:

1. How large is the audience?

This is the fundamental starting point when developing the presentation. Is it a small group or an auditorium filled with thousands? The size of the audience helps determine the presentation tools to use.

2. Location?

The digital environment now provides for presentations to take place anywhere. Is the presentation a face-to face, webinar, or a posting to a social network? Popular platforms such as  Go-To-Meeting, Google Hangouts, or Slide Share  are accessible globally.

3. Who is the audience?

The basic premise, that the purpose of the presentation is to influence the audience’s behavior to take a desired action, requires understanding the audience’s ability to execute the action. In other words, make sure the presentation content is relevant to the audience.

4. What motivates the audience?

Motivation is best viewed through two lenses -the first being personal motivation, and the second, professional motivation. What concerns the person? What keeps them up at night? What business hurdles must they clear to reach success?

5. What is your desired action?

Margo Krasne, author of “Say It With Confidence,” refers to this as your “to-do.” What do you want your audience to do after you’ve finished speaking? This is the whole point of the presentation – to influence the audience to take a specific action. Always check your presentation content against the motivational carrots. Be sure it relates back to the audience’s concerns and presents a solution to their problem.

6. What is your presentation concept?

The concept is derived from the audience’s motivational carrots. What are they concerned about? How does the solution you are proposing satisfy their needs?

7. What is your presentation strategy?

Develop the content as a series of points supported by case studies, industry facts, or personal experiences.  Remember to portray your solution in context to solving the audience’s problems. Develop transition points that set up the next main point of the presentation.

Following these simple guidelines will help you create more powerful and results-oriented presentations.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Finding your voice

How to gain influence through understanding

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: Trimming marketing expenditures

Blog 92 Aviation Marketing: Trimming marketing expenditures

How to keep share-of-voice and maintain industry presence

Cost reduction is nothing new. The great recession accelerated the learning curve on how to reduce expenditures by cutting personnel and marketing investment. However, as we fast forward to a new year and a recovering economy, when asked to reduce marketing expenditures one must take into account the value of marketing and the influence it has on the behavior of your customers and competitors.

Where to start?

Begin by taking a realistic approach to reducing marketing expenditures. Identify what is essential for maintaining share-of-voice, brand awareness and customer attention.

Outbound marketing areas to review:

  • Advertising
  • Directory listings
  • Direct Mail
  • Public Relations
  • Tradeshows
  • Telemarketing
  • Email

Inbound marketing areas to review:

  • Website
  • Social media channels
  • Video sharing sites
  • Newsletters
  • Search optimization
  • Events sponsorship
  • Tradeshow participation

Making smart decisions

A consequence of reducing marketing expenditures is a void in share-of-voice. It can be easy to justify drastic reductions in the hope of returning later when better financial times arrive. The fallacy of this strategy is that previous investment is lost and the completion fills the void left behind. Playing catch up is an expensive proposition because now the competition has the customer’s attention and it will require more investment to return to the status quo.

A more thoughtful approach is to review tactical executions such as reducing ad size, cutting back on frequency of placement, and the number of publications. If done correctly this can yield a reduction of 50% or more in outbound marketing cost while still keeping a presence in core industry segment publications.

Customer perceptions

While some may argue that marketing and the various tactics used to change customer behavior contribute little to the bottom line, customers notice the brands’ absence and begin to question brand health, viability and commitment to the industry.

Keeping a commitment to inbound marketing assures that these channels do not become neglected.  In fact, these channels can become the focus of the marketing efforts because they are owned and do not require continual purchase of space and time.

The following should be reviewed for tactical execution and resources needed to keep the outbound program vibrant.

  • Newsletters – keep customers informed by telling an expanded brand story.
  • Blogs – highlight employee expertise and extend the effectiveness and reach on social media platforms.
  • Emails – invite customers to events and keep a steady stream of valuable content delivered to the customer’s desktop.
  • Website updates – keep the site fresh with announcements and social media postings.
  • Video Produce iMovies and post to syndicated video channels for optimized web search.

Marketing budget reductions happen, those that that take a strategic approach can minimize loss of market share and industry presence.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why advertising is important in aviation marketing

Why internet advertising matters to aviation marketing

Emotional ties create strong brand loyalty

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

What’s your brand’s point-of-view?

Brand recognition for thought leadership takes stepping into the spot light.

Brand recognition for thought leadership takes stepping into the spot light.

Point-of-view marketing involves communicating your brand story through thoughts, deeds, and actions on how the industry should be served.  One avenue to achieve this is through social engagement marketing tactics. When your brand provides authoritative content, supported by experience or scientific facts, it is demonstrating thought leadership.

Sometimes it calls for taking a calculated risk and commenting on or providing content for a hot button topic. Controversial topics breed readership. The more the readership, the more the brand can play a role in educating and shaping public opinion.

Participating with organizations, associations, and publications

Depending on where your brand is connected with the industry, there are a myriad of associations and publications devoted to producing content for every industry segment.

Unfortunately, a lot of the content is opinion based on faulty thinking drawn from incomplete facts. Any hot button topic has its share of detractors and advocates. Wading into the fray takes fortitude and a willingness to listen to the opposition, understand their fears and insecurities, and acknowledge there is a place in the world for conflicting viewpoints.

The opportunity for thought leadership recognition comes from participation and providing a point-of-view substantiated by experience and facts. Brands that take the risk to step into the spotlight are rewarded with recognition for setting the story straight.

Brands that look for safe haven and to avoid controversy become one of many and relinquish their position of thought leadership.

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo

As an example, take a look the big search, social, and tech companies. When the National Security Agency (NSA) ran amuck over our constitutional right to privacy, they stepped into the spotlight and offered a detailed look at the NSA’s activities based on experience and facts. National security is a hot topic with millions of detractors and advocates. They could have played it safe and said nothing, worrying more about their stock price instead of their social responsibility. Instead, they came forward, injecting themselves into the conversation and offering thought leadership on how to serve both the nation’s security interest and the privacy right of their customers.

Leadership brands understand the value of participating in the conversation that helps form policy.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Finding your voice

How to gain influence through understanding

 Defining your brand’s personality

 Please leave your comments or thoughts below.