Are they versed in the decisive, differentiated advantage your brand delivers compared to competitive offerings (your brand position)? Do they know the nuances of the benefits your brand provides to your customers (your brand value proposition)? Can they speak to the big picture of what your brand stands for (the brand vision and values statements)?
If they do know all of this, are they actively and correctly living and breathing it in the way they deliver the brand experience?
If you’re not sure, you should find out (ask your employees about it all). If things aren’t hunky-dory, you need to get everyone on board, singing from the same page in the same hymnal. And (gasp!) if you haven’t thought through all of these things yourself and proactively developed and strategically crafted your brand identity, now’s the time. Because the very success of your business depends on it.
After all, isn’t that success why you show up to bust your butt at work every day?
Called a seldom-used vendor the other day to request a quote on a small project. Auto-attendant prompted me to dial my party’s extension if I knew it (I didn’t) or the department I wished to speak with (I picked one from the choices provided). Was placed in a call queue as all representatives were currently busy with other customers, but, I was assured, my call would be answered as soon as someone became available. A few seconds later, I was greeted with “Steve” so-and so’s voice mail. Steve’s voice sounded pleasant enough on the phone so I planned to leave a message for him to call me back. Except immediately after the beep prompt, another recorded voice came on the line and said, “That mail box is full. Goodbye.”
And that was the end of the call. Not by my choice, but by theirs. Humph.
I immediately went to another vendor who gladly took my order (and my money).
Have you tried calling your own customer service lines lately? You just might find yourself in your own version of phone hell. If so, fix it. Fix it fast as if your business depended on it. Because it does.
It’s been too long since I’ve posted here, but a new year brings a new resolve. Over the past many months while I’ve been busy not writing here, I’ve experienced several not-so-good-ways companies treat their customers (or prospects). I’ll carry on about those later. Today I wanted to give an overdue thumbs up to the folks at Hyundai Motor America.
In 2011, my wife bought a Hyundai Elantra to replace her worn and torn Nissan Quest mini van. The styling and features played the dominant roles in her decision, but the 40MPG possibilities touted by the company also were factors since she commutes nearly 50 miles each day. So far, she loves — L-O-V-E-S — her little black “4-door sports car.” Runs great and the dealership services have been terrific. Plus, she’s averaging +/- 34MPG on her largely in-town commute and we’ve gotten better than 40MPG several times on highway trips.
So I was surprised when she received a letter from the Hyundai folks in December admitting to the fuel economy label on the car being misstated due to errors in their test procedures. Turns out the fuel economy estimates were overstated by one or two miles per gallon.
We at Hyundai pride ourselves on standing behind our customers, and we did not deliver on that promise. I sincerely apologize. Our first priority is to make this right for you.
My wife didn’t buy the car for the extra one or two miles per gallon and she’d been very happy with the mileage she did experience. We’re happy to take Hyundai’s resolution (reimbursement for the gas difference plus 15 percent for as long as she owns the vehicle which, in her case, comes to about $130 per year). But if they hadn’t taken the high road and proactively apologized, frankly, she would likely never have noticed or complained.
Now, I don’t know the full story of why Hyundai is doing this. Did the feds make them? Do they fear lawsuits? Public scorn? I do know Hyundai has worked exceptionally hard over the years to build their brand on a foundation of quality, innovation, value, and trust. The actions they are taking to address the MPG misstatement are in complete alignment with that identity and, in my mind, further validates the image I’d formed of them over the years.
Well done for taking the high road, Hyundai.
Consider the various performers represented there. Why do you like them? Do you have more than one favorite song by them? How does one particular artists compare to another? And how about this: even though you may love heavy metal, you (probably) don’t own every song ever produced by all heavy metal bands. Why?
Obviously, there are major differences among artists — even within the same musical genre. And (no mystery here) we’re drawn to one or another artist/band/ensemble/etc. because of a variety of things: the music, the lyrics, the performance, and many other things like peer recommendation, some kind of personal association or history, etc. Whatever the reason for you, it’s a matter of personal taste: you like what you like and no one is going to tell you any different.
In their own way, perhaps there are no better brand-building role models for us business types than successful music performers. Because success in the highly cluttered (read: competitive) music business requires a brand identity that’s unique to that specific artist: a unique sound, a signature look, a distinctive performance experience — whatever.
And success in the music industry does not necessarily equate to appealing to the most listeners (think of Widespread Panic or the Grateful Dead). Instead, it means building a loyal following, often a very niche following, who repeatedly buy, engage across multiple platforms, and enthusiastically proselytize.
Music professionals have long recognized and embraced this critical brand identity concept: we can’t possibly appeal to all potential buyers, so focus on those who we appeal to the most. Own those who we best align with — those who are drawn to our distinctive sound … OWN them, and forget about the rest.
So, what’s your brand’s distinctive sound? Who’s your narrowly focused market? How is your brand performance unique? It’s no simple task to consider, so sit back, enjoy some music, and unleash your inner Rick Springfield.
Over the past few years, and increasingly now, marketers have placed a bright, shiny light on providing content as the new end-all to marketing their goods and services, often at the expense of many other forms of “traditional” brand communications.
What’s it all about, anyway?
Let’s define “content” here as objective, non-selling information delivered (“sponsored”) by a marketer with the goal of being positively associated with that information. The hoped-for result is positioning the deliverer as an expert, thought-leader or trusted go-to resource, with the ultimate goal being an actual selling opportunity.
You may be thinking, “isn’t this really ‘context’ for marketing messages, just like traditional radio programming, tv programming, magazines, and newspapers have always been?”
My answer: “yup.”
Except instead of relying on traditional media properties to provide the content (the context into which traditional ads are placed), new technologies today allow each of us to develop — and market — our own content. Thanks to blogs (like this one), email, websites, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SlideShare and many others, every marketer now has direct and easy access to platforms from which to deliver content. No matter if you’re a b2b or b2c marketer.
Similar to broadcast programmers or print publishers trying to assemble the right mix for advertisers, the onus is on marketers to identify and develop the right content that attracts, engages, and retains desirable target audiences, creating a firm alignment when those audiences are ready to buy.
If you think about “content marketing” as actually just providing the right context, from a pull-through marketing standpoint, everything falls into place: make it easy for prospects to align with your brand by providing the quality, engaging information they want and need.
Where and how you generate your content is dependent on your markets and your brand. It could include product testing info, manufacturing processes, thought-leader white papers, industry-related statistics, product usage ideas, contests and promotions, goodwill initiatives, roundtable discussions, market trends, executive interviews, sponsorships, etc. There’s also a new breed of service companies, content generation firms, eager to help. Each serves a role not unlike a Hollywood production studio or news wire service: generating engaging context (for marketing messages).
“Content” may seem like the new marketing buzz, but it’s been around since advertisers first bought time and space in broadcast and publishing mediums. Except, now YOU are the editor-in-chief and director of programming. So, rock on content-maven. Rock on.