Guest Post by Randy Vaughn
A comprehensive marketing strategy includes two parts, as simple as A-B-C. Actually we’ll move the order around and say marketing is composed of these essentials: B – Branding CA — Customer Action
Branding is a collection of values, ideas, personality, and history – what you are saying about yourself and the customer’s experience with you. Do they like your exceptional service? Does your niche solution resonate with them? What is it about your brand that connects? I’ve had a lot of people say that my decade of experience living in Africa draws them to me. That’s part of my brand.
Branding is of course at its peak when customers associate your name with the product itself. When there’s a sneeze, people often say, “pass me a kleenex please.” Kleenex is a BRAND of tissue, but its name has become synonymous with the product that solves a problem. For most, our brands are not so married to the solution to our customer’s needs. We must cultivate this relationship over the long-haul.
So until your customers equate your brand with the solution to their problem, we work simultaneously on the second part of the marketing equation.
Small businesses spend a lot of money to get consumers to pick them over the competition. However, typically their marketing efforts are no more than just branding. They talk about themselves and hope that the customer feels good about their business. This is what Super Bowl ads are doing primarily – spending millions on shaping the customer’s perception of their brand name. But in a highly competitive environment, you often must to do more than just BRANDING when you want to lure your customer like a magnet into a transaction.
Branding efforts lay a strong foundation but it often takes a fresh and systematic approach to get a customer to choose you. If you think about this as a relationship, the first phase for customers is information-gathering and studying the facts about you.
Customers then try you out and (hopefully) have a positive experience with you which improves your like-ability score. But repeated experiences that are repeatedly exceptional builds a TRUST relationship that ensures longevity, loyalty and a stream of referrals.
Mr. Popular Needs Help
There are many things you can do as well to invoke CUSTOMER ACTION, the consumer’s response and eventual transaction. However, if all we do is focus on CUSTOMER ACTION, we’re wasting our breath. Imagine the door-to-door guy standing there trying to force you to purchase something without having any knowledge of or experience with his company. No relationship or history – the door slams.
As well, if all we are doing is BRANDING, we are immature in our marketing and arrogant in our approach to the relationship with our potential customer. Imagine this scenario like Mr. Popular standing in the high school courtyard walking around talking about himself, but never inviting anyone to get to know him – just expecting all the girls to throw themselves at his feet. Our prospects are hovering around all the time, comparing us to our competitors. If all we are doing is talking about ourselves, but never offering specific invitations to know/like/trust us, then we assume too much about ourselves and show too little respect for the customer. We will no doubt miss the sale.
So the two aspects work in tandem. Branding and Customer Action. Do you have a comprehensive branding strategy that fosters an environment with your prospective customers so that when they find themselves in NEED of your services, there’s no question who they will pick?
About the Author: Randy Vaughn is Fort Worth’s only Duct Tape Marketing Authorized Coach. Along with his identical twin brother, Randy is also Creative Director for The Marketing Twins