21 January 2008

The Ultimate Brand Experience

I recently spoke at a national convention for one of my clients. It's always a lot of work to put together large presentations especially when it's required each year. However, I push myself each year to create something new and relevant for the audience and I find this very rewarding. I get energized from researching other marketers methods and each year I see more and more companies accepting and trying new strategies... and there are more and more successes to draw from.

Here is a small excerpt from the speech I gave, it's about creating the ultimate brand experience and elevating your brand:

Creating memorable customer experiences is by far the best way to build brand evangelists. Brand evangelists are people that have experienced the brand first hand and will go out of their way to ‘bragg’, ‘promote’ and ‘sell’ your product for you based on their experience… think of them as testimonials on steroids.

Creating brand evangelists is more than just good customer service or marketing though… that’s only part of the puzzle.

The customer experience encompasses all aspects of the customers’ interaction with us. It spans the awareness, first contact, face to face meeting and follow up. This is how the customer interacts and experiences your brand.

If you think about it, all facets of an organization affect the customer experience –

1. The advertising sets the expectation – opinions are formulated by the message and visuals the advertising puts forward. This is where we make our promise to the customer and demonstrate the image/perception that we have to live up to and that they want to associate with.

2. The corporate culture and policies within the company translate into the nomenclature, language and attitude that the customer reads and hears. This is the personality of the company, and, just like in life, there will be people that your personality doesn't agree with... and this is the hardest thing for established operators to grasp: you don't have to please everyone, in fact, don't even try. (I can write an entire blog on this)

3. The technical or product engineering side of the company designs the product to be relevant and necessary. The ease of use, the ease of understanding and its aesthetic qualities nurture the experience.

4. The frontline personnel are the first contact with customers often confirming the first impression and reinforces or destroys what the advertising or marketing has promised.

5. The product delivery can be largest hands on part of the experience and perhaps, if we get to this point, the most powerful. This is the point where we confirm the attributes presented in our advertising, make good on our promises and WOW the customer. Making their experience with us memorable. This is where the customer first touches your brand.

6. The residual – the follow up, future advertising, communications… all of these are equally important to the experience because these back up the experience, keep the customer engaged and remind the customers of the experience they had with us… it’s this reminder that will keep these customers referring. This is what tells the customer they made a good choice in associating themselves with your brand.

Each department, whether training, customer service, support, research & development, marketing, advertising or technical, all have to be focused on the ultimate customer experience for it to truly be memorable. Each department plays a role in developing the experience. This takes some leadership, direction and a belief in your product... that it matters to the customer, and, if it does, you've got a winner - and an evangelist.

Think of some brands you like to be associated with and some that you don't... then think about the experience that each gave. That's your assignment for tonight.

Ciao.

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