Why your brand promise matters more now than ever

The brand promise is the differentiating characteristics inherent to the brand experience that will be delivered to every customer, every time.

The brand promise is the differentiating characteristics inherent to the brand experience that will be delivered to every customer, every time.

Does your customer’s brand experience live up to the brand promise?

In all the clutter being injected into business-to-business marketing, it seems that the quaint idea of the brand promise has been forgotten. Yet there are some large global consumer brands that invest untold time, treasure, and resources to define their differentiated brand experience and articulate it across their industry segments to ensure powerful and consistent customer communications.

Why business-to-business brands should revisit their brand promise

The brand promise is the differentiating characteristics inherent to the brand experience that will be delivered to every customer, every time.

How the brand articulates that promised experience depends on five specific components:

  • Personality of the brand
  • Values of the brand
  • Emotional needs of the customer the brand promises to satisfy
  • Functional needs the brand promises to satisfy
  • Supporting features that distinguish the brand

These five components form the brand pyramid which leads to formulating the brand promise.

Elevating the brand promise beyond feature/function

Brand features and functions are basic attributes of the brand. For example, a Phillips head screwdriver (feature) will tighten or loosen (function) a Phillips head screw. Elevating this experience to fulfill an emotional need requires insight into why that particular brand of screwdriver was selected. Is the brand promise that this tool is of high quality, comes with a lifetime guarantee, and is the choice of professionals? Or is it that the phenolic ergonomic grip is designed to reduce the chance of shock if touched to a live wire? The brand promise in this case goes beyond adjusting a screw; rather, it addresses an esteem or safety need that is deemed important by the customer.

Vision and values of the brand

If you accept that the brand promise is related to the brand experience, then vision and values of the brand come into play. The vision and values of the brand define the brand’s behavior; i.e., how the customer should be treated and what the customer should expect when interacting with the brand.

Referring back to the screwdriver example and the brand promise of a lifetime guarantee, one would expect the brand to replace the tool free of charge if a defect became apparent. But what if the tool was damaged while being used for an unattended purpose? Would the guarantee still apply?

If the brand chooses to honor the guarantee, especially without regard to cause of damage, it sends a strong message to the customer about the value of the relationship. This action also reinforces the quality perception associated with the brand personality. In addition, positive actions by the brand can move a customer along the engagement cycle from support to loyalty and advocacy.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

The difference between positioning and the brand promise

Defining your brand’s personality

The difference between strategy and tactics

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Copyright: inkebeville / 123RF Stock Photo

In today’s ubiquitous multi-screen environment, brands must work harder to stand out and create a unique brand experience.

The best experiences provide visceral engagement involving the 5 senses to create lasting impressions

The best experiences provide visceral engagement involving the 5 senses to create lasting impressions

We stand at the threshold where multi-sensory technologies will become part of the brand experience.

The purchasing process, once dependent on advertising, salesmanship, display, and brick and mortar showrooms, has been usurped by the internet and emerging technologies. Search, brand experience, and visceral sensory excitement are becoming more important as purchasers look for personalized experiences that create lasting impressions.

It is reported that 70% of purchasing decisions are made before the buyer contacts the seller. This is why legacy brands can become invisible if they do not continually reinvest in their marketing and explore new digital channels and multi-sensory experiences.

Agile marketing

Agility in marketing equates to quick strike capability. Being able to adapt to changing market conditions provides a safety net.

Take product introduction, for example. Rolling out a new product at a trade show creates the opportunity to borrow ideas and executions from different industries. Creating a sensory bashing, multimedia experience supporting the launch generates excitement among the customer base, media buzz with the press, and social media spikes, resulting in more lead activity flowing into the sales pipeline. Contrast this with the “drop a business card in the fish bowl to win a digital tablet” approach. In addition, much of the multimedia execution can be repurposed for website and mobile video use.

Spend wisely — invest in the brand experience

Museums are a great place to start when looking for ideas for multi-sensory user ideas. The best experiences provide visceral engagement involving the 5 senses to create lasting impressions. One example was the “Rain Room,” a temporary installation in which water rains down except where sensors detect people, giving visitors the illusion of walking between the drops. It was not unusual for visitors to wait four hours or more for their opportunity to experience this exhibit at MoMA.

The connected television

You don’t have go out on a limb too far to recognize that we are creatures of habit. One habit we share is the attraction to television. Viewership is at an all-time high, driven by streaming technology and the ability to personalize media selection. The mass personalization of media will lead to more opportunities for marketers to apply behavioral targeting, tapping into big data sets and using their brand experience as a form of currency. This will encourage users to share their information, providing brands with deep insight into selection, usage, and emotional attachment.

While this may sound like future shock, it is not. Many of these technologies exist today. With implementation comes the responsibility for safe guarding users’ personal data. In the not-so-distant future, brand loyalty may hinge on personal privacy safeguards and data security.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

 Does your brand embrace change?

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Aviation Marketing: When to rethink

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Why brand reputation matters in large sales

The value of a strong brand reputation plays a critical role in the extended sales process.

The value of a strong brand reputation plays a critical role in the extended sales process.

Brand reputation sells long after the sales call

In the book Spin Selling by Neil Rackman, sales methodology is explored and documented. One of the findings, supported by research, is that in large sales, the selling process is often pushed through the sales funnel by personnel internal to the buyer of the product or service, due to the number of influencers and decision makers that must approve large capital expenditures. During this extended sales cycle, it would be almost impossible for the sales rep to be present for every meeting and address every objection or question that might arise. For that reason, the value of a strong brand reputation plays a critical role in the sales process.

Brand reputation in the digital age

Brand reputation is a soft metric that does not lend itself to the analytics of lead generation or conversion. Yet it may be one of the most powerful sales influencers that a seller has at its disposal. In the digital age where every aspect of a brand can be researched by a purchaser, a sterling reputation for performance, service, and durability provides a blanket of reassurance for the purchaser. In fact, positive brand attributes can elevate the brand from competing on price alone to commanding a premium price because of the intangible and emotional connections that the purchaser establishes with the brand.

Foundation of the brand reputation is delivering on the brand promise

The brand promise is a contract with the customer that they will receive the promised brand experience. The brand experience is the customer’s interaction with the brand at various touchpoints. Examples include website functionality, customer service response, technical assistance, and delivery; even the product packaging can help deliver on the brand promise. When viewed as a whole, each of these elements contributes to the brand reputation.

Outbound and inbound marketing efforts also contribute to the brand reputation. Customer insight gained through traditional or digital channels provides the framework for key messaging which can be used in advertising, promotion, and social marketing.

In large sales, one of the challenges is keeping the prospect in the sales funnel and not having them spin off into in a different direction based on inaccurate information. Therefore, investing in the brand’s reputation keeps a consistent stream of messaging that can counteract competitors’ efforts to sway the purchaser toward their product or service offering.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

What’s your brand’s reputation worth?

Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

Inbound Marketing and the Prospect Pipeline

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Creating better content

bBrands must know themselves before they can create content that is meaningful.

Brands must know themselves before they can create content that is meaningful.

Brands must know themselves before they start to publish content.

Rebecca Lieb, Jessica Groopman, and Susan Etlinger of the Altimeter Group published “A Culture of Content,” A Best Practices Report. The report covers in detail how leading brands are creating a corporate ecosystem that encourages content development at every level of the organization. While many of their best practice recommendations were not new, one insight that stood out was that brands must know themselves before they can create content that is meaningful and helps to achieve business goals.

When brands decide to jump on the content bandwagon, they suddenly realize that an online presence can quickly overwhelm the resources dedicated to producing content. That’s why we see so much “me too” content from competing brands.

Brands that effectively deliver meaningful content share these three attributes:

  • They are the best at what they do, whether offering a product or service.
  • Everyone in the organization can articulate what makes their brand different from their competitors.
  • They listen to their customers and make the necessary changes, cultural or procedural, to enhance the brand experience.

In today’s always-on media environment, brands can feel pressured to produce content that doesn’t meet strategic criteria for being published. Leading brands have solved this problem by asking these simple questions:

  • Does this content warrant the resources necessary to produce it?
  • Will this content produce a rate of return equal to or greater than a paid media insertion?
  • Does the content solve a customer’s problem or concern?
  • Will the content support the mosaic of the overall brand story?
  • What is the shelf life of the content?

In the not-too-distant past, great brands — B-to-B and B-to-C — knew their DNA. They knew their history, where their value systems came from, and valued the inherent creativity of their employees. This was evident in their marketing and confirmed by their market share.

Today, these same traits are needed to produce content because now in the omni-channel media environment, content is becoming the face brand across every customer experience.

To download a copy of the Altimeter report, “A Culture of Content” click here.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

What’s your brand’s point-of-view?

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Finding your voice

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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.

Copyright: krasimiranevenova / 123RF Stock Photo

Does your brand embrace change?

People-to-people marketing changes the approach to customer relationships.

People-to-people marketing changes the approach to customer relationships.

When working with companies serving the aviation industry that are transitioning to people-to-people marketing, I stress that marketing content should be centered around two things:  1) solving customer problems, and 2) the journey through the purchasing process – because these are the two main elements of creating brand preference. Yet many times after this suggestion is made there is resistance to change and a tendency to circle back and do things the way they are most comfortable with. This usually takes the form of reskinning their current website with the latest product iteration.

The tragedy of this is the missed opportunity to connect with customers, improve their brand experience, and influence future purchasing decisions.

Understanding the value that you give

One aspect of people-to-people marketing is knowing what the customer considers valuable. The path to this enlightened place begins by looking at the areas where the customer interacts with your brand.

  • Interest
  • Purchase
  • Customer Service
  • Payment

Connecting and engaging with the customer as they travel through the four phases gives insight and actionable items to the departments responsible for each of the above areas.

This is a holistic approach that requires each department to share both good and bad experiences. The customer journey is a series of small steps. Good experiences increase brand loyalty, and bad experiences send customers to your competitor.

Developing content that is focused on the customer’s needs, and mechanisms within the marketing channels that invite customer response, shows willingness on the brands part to be open and receptive to change with the goals of providing a better brand experience.

Putting the customer in the middle

Having insight into the customer’s purchasing experience allows you to see your brand through your customer’s eyes. To some the purchase can be influenced by design and functionality of the website.  To others is may be speed of delivery, ease of ordering, or return policy. Taking a hard look at the customer purchasing journey will help you identify performance indicators that cross all departments leading to a more profitable and satisfying customer relationship.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

5 reasons why aviation manufacturers need to embrace people-to-people marketing

 Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

 How to build a connected brand

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: 7 social marketing trends for airlines

Blog_77_irlines are embracing people-to-people marketing

Airlines are embracing people-to-people marketing

“The State of Airline Marketing,” published by Airtrends.com and SimpliFlying, takes a global look at innovative social marketing using case studies. The report identifies trends such as experiental, location-based, co-creation and social loyalty incentives. Below is my interpretation of their report with focus on people-to-people marketing trends.

1. EXPERIENTAL – Traditional branding tactics are becoming increasingly less effective when trying to reach a jaded flying public. Heretofore, “consumers,” once viewed as a target audience or demographic are now viewed as customers. This shift in perspective requires a people-to-people marketing approach as airlines are turning to the brand experience to capture the attention and imagination of people interested in their service offering.

2. SOCIAL CARE – Today’s traveler is connected to his or her social networks via a smart phone or tablet. These mobile devices provide a conduit for praise or bashing when frustrated with a product or service that does not meet expectations. It is important for airlines to tackle the problem at the place where it occurs, building goodwill and turning a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate.

3. ON LOCATION – Aviation brands want to interact with customers no matter the location. From QR codes at taxi stops to scavenger hunts using twitter hashtags, airlines are increasingly “going to the customer.” This location effort puts a human quality to the corporate brand.

4. BACK TO REALITY – To connect with the customer, airlines are seeking and using user-generated content to open a window into the interworking of airline operations and the logistics involved with travel.

5. CROWDSOURCING – Airlines are using crowdsourcing to determine the priorities of the customer. Good ideas are not the exclusive domain of the airline. Customer ideas are being incorporated into variety of product innovations, loyalty rewards, and tablet applications.

6. VIRAL VIDEOS – Airlines are learning to be their own media outlets. Those that demonstrate creativity in their marketing are being rewarded with millions of views on social channels, thus reducing the cost of bought media.

7. SOCIAL LOYALTY & GAMIFICATION
Airlines are tapping into location-based services to track loyalty in terms of repeat visits as well as social advocacy. By offering real-world rewards to fans and followers who promote their brand online, airlines add an element of gamification to their marketing.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketing

Defining your brand personality

3 ways social media can help build your brand

To download a copy of “The State of Airline Marketing” click here.

To learn more about SimpliFlying click here.

To lean more about Airtrends.com click here.