A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty per cent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of studies have logged the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make. The rise of social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might buy a Sony television set because you’d owned one before, or because you trusted the brand. Today, such considerations matter much less than reviews on Amazon and Engadget and CNET. Each product now has to prove itself on its own. (Source: New Yorker)
The very first thing you must do to turn customers into raving fans is to have an outstanding product or service that solves a problem, lends status or helps your customer survive in a conventional way with a touch of coolness. The product must be valid and ready for the world otherwise you’ll crash and burn.
However, if you have a great product or service (√check) and are looking to maximize your branding to increase sales and build your brand, then here are 8 branding ideas to help turn your customers into raving fans.
1. Be somebody
The old saying goes, “you can’t be everything to everyone.” Companies must find a way to stand out amongst the marketplace clutter and find the “whitespace” to stand for something your customers will remember and resonate with. Prove to them you are worth their time by demonstrating your brand values, mission and how it will benefit them.
2. Make them feel something
The best way to connect in today’s digital world is through storytelling and contextual marketing. Our ancestors sat around a fire telling stories since the dawn of time, and this still continues to this day—except now we get it from the TV. There is something intrinsically valuable to storytelling. When you connect with people at the heart level and make them feel something it will go a long way. Today’s marketing isn’t about highlighting features and benefits, it’s about “celebrating the benefit in the way it impacts other people’s lives,” says Simon Mainwaring, author of We First. Put your product in context of real everyday stories for greater impact.
For example, here is a great ad by Nike, highlighting the greatness in everyone.
“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
3. Be authentic
The best way to be authentic is to just be your self. Too many brands today try to be something they’re not. Weave your personality into your content, messaging and imagery. Through authentic and good-willed communication, customers will innately share content and bring it to life.
4. Delight them after the sale
Do not have a “one and done” mentality. At the end of the sales process and after the project or product has been delivered, add value to your customers through events, continued education or through content that will solve their problems. Use social media to add value in the form of education, entertainment or problem solving. Show them you care well after the sale.
5. Make it all about them
Every product or service should be centered around what is called a buyer persona. If you don’t know your customer on a very personal level, you leave a lot of opportunity on the table. To truly make a product/service resonate with your customers your entire days’ activities should be based on solving their problems whatever they may be. Make your customer the superstar of your business.
Here are a few examples:
- I’m a triathlete and I can’t figure out what saddle to buy for my bike. An online retailer may offer the customer a whitepaper on how to choose the right saddle in an easy to understand format that provides options, price and customer reviews.
- I’m a facility manager looking for tips and products to best comply with OSHA standards. A distributor may send a video to the customer with options, mixing tips and a case study of their best product.
- I’m a hunter who is not sure what kind of knife I will need for the field. A dealer might send the customer a range of options on how to decide what’s best for their type of hunt and may refer some experts in their area.
6. Talk their language
Don’t use fancy terms and ‘gobblygook’. Talk their language. Using the examples above, meet them on the course, in their facility or in the field. Talk to them like an old friend. You have to earn your customer’s money more than ever.
7. Give them what they want
Do your absolute best to make a great product and don’t cut corners. If your customers ask for something—give it to them! Give them a way to sound off on what is needed to make your products better. You can create a customer support portal with an area titled “Submit product ideas” to encourage participation in your product or service development.
8. Fanatical customer support
Last, but not least, customer service—it has become the new marketing. When you provide great customer support you are much more likely to have that experience passed on via word-of-mouth.
A survey by Harvard Business Review concludes that customers want knowledgable frontline customer service reps and that the problem be resolved on the first call. On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company. This points to the importance of companies hiring people who align and know their brand(s) products best. Hire your customers. Two of the best examples out there is Rackspace and REI. Go into any REI, and you’ll find people as passionate about conservation, good equipment and being outdoors as you are. If you have a technical issue with your website or have server issues, Rackspace goes above and beyond to solve the problem. You can’t train passion.
Are you in a boring industry? Then the focus must be invested in recruitment and employer branding. A great real-world example is Zappos. Who gets excited about selling shoes? At Zappos, the culture is the product and shoes are what they do on the side. Create a great culture to work at and the boring product stuff becomes fun. I love this quote:
“So many people when they go to the office, they leave a little bit of themselves at home, or a lot of themselves at home. And they have to put on this different persona in the office, especially in corporate environments. And our whole…there’s a lot of talk about work life separation or balance and so on, whereas our whole thing is about work life integration. Its just life.”— Tony Hsieh, CEO
In conclusion, it all starts with a great product. To connect that great product or service with your customer—you must be somebody, you must be authentic, social, make it all about them, talk their language, give them what they want and provide outstanding customer service above all else!
Josh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.