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.

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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.

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Aviation Marketing: When to rethink

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Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

Blog_110_Marketing Automation Platforms

MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces.

 

The promise of Marketing Automation Platforms is to integrate and automate marketing functions

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) are receiving lots of attention in the B-to-B marketing sphere. Most of these platforms are targeted toward companies with large database records that execute the majority of their marketing efforts online. For originations that fit the aforementioned criteria, MAPs promise greater marketing efficiency, integration with sales CRM software, reduced external resource expenditures, and ROI tracking for each marketing event.

The strength of an MAP is its ability to capture digital transactional information for specific marketing actions. These actions can include the following:

  • Email opens, top performing links, and overall performance
  • Website visitation, visitor page interaction and analytics
  • Inbound marketing responses to posted content and landing pages
  • Social platform monitoring for sentiment and customer insight

These actions are generally considered first encounter lead generation activities found at the top of the sales funnel. It is at this junction that marketing and sales must agree on what a qualified lead looks like and what steps are necessary to move this lead through the sales funnel.

With the definition of a qualified lead identified, an MAP can provide the functionality to automatically continue to reach out to the prospect. As the prospect demonstrates intent to purchase, CRM software is able to provide sales with leads that require shorter close times and better success rates.

All of this sounds great, almost like push button marketing; however, there are several things to consider:

  •  MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces
  • MAPs are not a substitute for a strategic marketing plan
  • Underestimating the amount of content required to shepherd the prospect through the sales funnel
  • The current marketing staff may not have the technical horsepower needed to manage the MAP
  • Time commitment and resources from IT will be needed for implementation, integration, and ongoing maintenance
  • Substantial learning curve and resources required for marketing and sales personnel
  • Implementation time of 6 to 12 months to see results
  • Identification of critical data chains for ROI reporting
  • Commitment from the executive wing to fund and nurture MAP implementation

MAPs focus is on digital interaction. What about traditional marketing and brand building? These software platforms are challenged to know what effect display advertising has with regards to purchasing behavior, brand sentiment, and brand loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong here. I see the benefit of ROI analysis and the positive potential MAPs can have when implemented properly. However, at the same time, I am also cautious about MAPS. My concern begins with the automaton nature of the entire process. The promise of inbound marketing is to engage with interested prospects and begin to build a relationship. Being inundated with additional email offers and qualifying phone calls can be a turn-off, stopping the relationship building cold. In addition, marketers must be cautious about treating prospects like Pavlov’s dog. Thinking that they can be trained to respond by redundancy is a danger.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Big data and creativity

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People-to-people Marketing and “Small Data”

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Human insight combined with “Small Data” provides a better customer experience

Devin Wenig, President of eBay Marketplaces recently spoke with McKinsey & Company about how digital technology was transforming the retail marketplace. One of his insights that can apply to companies serving the aviation industry was his take on the importance of “small data” vs. “big data”.

For definition purposes, let’s identify “big data” as data sets that represent large groups of people and certain types of behavior associated with their purchasing habits. This data is gathered from transactional data, website analytics and social insights, and usually requires the service of a data scientist to interpret trends and connections.

“Small Data,” on the other hand, is about putting the customer first. Engaging the customer with information and tools organized and packaged to be easily accessible, understandable, and actionable to accomplish the task at hand (think apps). Companies that understand small data can use it to their advantage by creating relationships leading to increased brand loyalty and repeat business.

“Small Data” leads to actionable strategies

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight, resulting in knowing your customer base as individuals – their likes, dislikes, purchasing history – and providing an easy to use, relevant online user experience.

Long tail data – a complete customer picture

A search engine can sort through millions of bits of data from a keyword query and provide an exact match, but it cannot provide additional queries for items that may be related. For example, say your website has a search feature and the customer has entered a part number. The part number query will take them to the requested part configuration but is incapable of identifying additional parts that may be needed for installation in a specific airframe or for a retrofit of a new digital component. Using the “small data” approach, the search query could also display a complete view of additional components associated with the original query, assuring that the customer gets all they need the first time around.

Relevant online experiences lead to loyal customers

People-to-people marketing requires engaging with customers by providing useful information. Thinking beyond a single data set and applying insight such as including installation tips and additional component selections creates customer loyalty. Thinking of “small data” as the “right data” will help marketers build better customer profiles, leading to a better online experience for all involved.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Using social media to gain customer insight.

B-to-B social media strategy: Quality not Quantity

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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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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Brand Loyalty and the Art of Motorcycles

Brand promise fulfills emotional needs

Big Bend Bucket List Ride

Visceral experiences create emotional connections to brands.

It was the bucket list ride. 2,200 miles in all, beginning with a ride to Big Bend National Park and culminating with the North Texas Norton Owners Association rally in the Texas hill country. That much seat and think time allows for serious contemplation such as brand loyalty -– how to create it and how to keep it.

User experience drives brand loyalty

Four motorcycle brands were represented on the trip — Yamaha, Honda, Triumph, and Harley Davidson. Each of us being expert riders, we had accessorized our machines to complement our riding preferences and styles. Brand loyalty was evident by the fact that many of the machines were upgrades from previous models, leading to the conclusion that riders select their machines based on previous user experience. When reliability is of the utmost importance, riders select the brand that has never failed to deliver the intended results.

Reliance on performance creates emotion connection with the brand

Big Bend National Park encompasses 801,163 acres, making it the 15th largest national park in the United States. With that much distance to cover, dependability of the machine takes on new meaning. Feature and function is highly relative in brand loyalty, and performance criteria is measured by miles per gallon, rider comfort over long distances, handling characteristics in high wind situations, cargo capacity, and overall emotional connection with the motorcycle at the end of the day.

Brand promise fulfills emotional needs

Motorcycles occupy a special place in the category of fulfilling emotional needs. Novice riders like to think of it as rebellion and non-conformity. Veteran riders are fulfilled by the promise of a new vista at every turn. Regardless of the brand or riding experience, motorcycles put you in the picture and expose all of your five senses to the visceral experiences that come from the riding environment. Individuals that want to experience life, not just view it from behind a windshield, are calculated risk takers attracted to this form of travel.

Brand loyalty makes us advocates

Our group of riders hailed for Europe, Australia, and North America. Our affection and excitement for a particular brand, vintage or new, comes from our user experience with the brand. This experience spans decades and encompasses milestones in a riding resume. Our loyalty is demonstrated by repeat purchases, social events, and interest in all things with two wheels, a seat, and a motor. No matter the industry, marketers that study this curious group can learn valuable lessons from those drawn to the open road and the anticipation of exploring new vistas that are just around the next corner.

Click here for more trip pictures

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Differentiating your brand from the competition

Investing in your brand perception

Creating the foundation for brand differentiation

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.