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The Little Things – Engaging & Creating Brand Advocates

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It really is the little things in life.

When you remove the lid from a pudding or yogurt container, what is the first thing you do?

I know the first thing I do is make sure that none of the deliciousness is wasted. I lick the lid clean.

Well, this consumer did that very thing and look what he found! A little message!

He got a chuckle, enjoyed the rest of his treat and then promptly shared the experience with millions online.

Why? Well for one our society is becoming addicted to sharing every little moment in life with everyone, even anonymous strangers, but that is a topic for another day. Let’s just say he shared it because it was a fun & funny experience that added just the smallest bit of colour to his day.

In our last post we discussed “Customer Experiences” and role they play in driving brand recognition and trust. Providing customers with positive experiences drive massive marketing results and can land you huge sales.

This yogurt company just got Massive *FREE* viral advertising from a real life “Brand Advocate” to millions online… all because of a little extra print on a lid. For a few extra cents on the packaging, this company engaged their consumers, provided a fun experience and place their brand in front of millions.

What can we all learn from this? Share your thoughts!

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Customer Experience: The “NEW” Branding

Branding 2.0

Branding has changed over the past twenty years.

A Brand used to exert far more control over their image than they do now. Their image was dictated by their marketing team and it was presented via one-way communication channels such as Print, Radio and Television. There was no means for the consumer to talk back and no sharing “en-mass” of experiences. The worst a Brand had to fear was negative word-of-mouth referrals amongst their consumer’s family and friends. This of course was minimal and easy to drown out.

This type of “one-way” marketing communications made it easy for brands to position themselves with nothing more than a large budget and a savvy marketing team.

That has all changed. With the advent of the internet, the world became a great deal smaller. This is a truth that has been compounded even further by “Social Media”.

“Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper”. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.”

Social Media has enabled anyone and everyone to share their thoughts on anything at anytime. Is this a good thing? Perhaps not in all cases, yet it is the truth we live with. Everyone’s hearts are now on their sleeves and now just about anyone across the world can view it.

This is a cold hard fact for Brands.

The Brand Image is no longer dictated solely by slick marketing, it is dictated by customer’s sharing their experiences with the world. Take for example this recent post to social media giant, Reddit:

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

A customer, or quite possibly no more than the NEIGHBOUR of a customer, witnessed a diligent UPS employee and shared it on Reddit. The post was instantly shared with millions of consumers all around the world.

Congratulations to UPS!  Thanks to this employee and the consumer who noticed it, they got excellent brand recognition and advertising without spending a dime.

Now as a point of comparison, have a look at this short video posted to YouTube. The video shows a FedEx employee casually tossing a package (containing a computer) over a fence. This is a video that went viral only months ago:

Ask yourself, which of these two elite carriers are consumers more likely going to use? Based solely off of these two consumer-shared posts I know who my choice would be.

Of course this isn’t to lambaste FedEx or endorse UPS, but to demonstrate the principles behind the new era of Branding. Simply put Brands must now exercise a new level of responsibility and engagement with customers. Any Brand seeking success in the 21st century must now focus less on shiny advertising and image and more on “Customer Experiences”.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a "Mapkin". This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a “Mapkin”. This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

Customer Experiences.

Customer Experience (Definition): Is literally any part of the entire experience a consumer (or consumers) has during the process of making a purchase. This includes preemptive researching, sourcing, pricing, purchasing, taking possession of, installing and using, as well as any and all customer service related activities following. This may include warranty, returns, questions or comments.

Twenty or more years ago a customers experience with a brand was shared with only their immediate social circles. Feedback, bad or good, was restricted. These days customer experiences can (and are) immediately shared with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other consumers. For this reason Brands have begun to put more effort into their daily transactions with customers.

There are billions of customer transactions and experiences occurring daily around the world. They take the form of phone calls, emails, discussions with sales associates, deliveries, installations, warranty requests etc. Every instance of participation between you and a consumer, every interaction that your business has with a customer, is a “Customer Experience” and EVERY SINGLE ONE of these interactions could make or break your brand.

We as businesses have no control over which consumers will share what with others. That one negative experience we provide to a consumer could quickly be seen by anyone and everyone. Likewise that incredible effort on the part of your staff, could reach thousands on your behalf. This “unknown” is why EVERY interaction is crucial.

Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper“. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.

The key point being made here is that EVERY business big or small, needs to invest in improving their day-to-day interactions with consumers.

Improving Brand to Customer Interactions.

As outlined above, there are countless interactions between customers and Brands every day. Whether making an actual purchase or simply looking for product information, it is imperative that every customer experience be as smooth, efficient and positive as possible.

“Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

The sheer number of interactions and instances of “Customer Experiences” can be overwhelming. In this excellent post by Dr. Brian Monger. He outlines a far more thorough list of the various interactions that may take place between you and your consumers. To read through it, one can feel quickly discouraged! But take hope. This list provides the impetus for you to BUILD YOUR BRAND!

Instead of getting discouraged, go through the list and pick two or three interactions that you KNOW you have with customers and look at ways to improve them. For example, does your business frequently have to deliver to customers? How can that be improved? Can you offer it for free? Can it be sped up? Is your delivery guy providing them with a smile and a handshake?

The improvements don’t need to always be complicated and it is often the little things that matter most to customers.

Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

Getting Social.

Improving customer experiences is a crucial step for the new era of Brand Image because customers are continually sharing their experiences via social media. Since this is the case, it only makes sense for Brands to also be involved on social media channels.

In past posts we have outlined some of the many social media sites available, what they do and how they work. The two primary reasons for a Brand to “get social” are as follows:

1. Engaging Customers: The purpose of social media is quite literally in its name: “SOCIAL media”. Many Brands have yet to truly see that success on Twitter, Facebook or any of the many sites out there, boils down to the ability to connect with customers. Using “one-way advertising” tactics and simply shouting your message without listening or replying to the customer base is a faux pas and it is one of the things killing Brands on social media.

Instead, make your time on social media, all about talking WITH your target market. Share insider info on tips, deals and sales, reply to their comments and start conversations. This builds your brands integrity and gives them reason to participate with you online.

2. Being Available To Listen: If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?

There are a couple of different ways. The first is just BEING on social media. There is a good chance that if a customer has an issue with a recent experience and is going to share it online, they will seek out the Brand responsible (Tweet at them, visit their Facebook page etc). It gives them a chance to address it with you, which ideally results in dealing with the situation and improving their opinion of you.

“If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?”

On the flip side, positive experiences may also be shared and should be highlighted and shared with your social media followers.

A Brand can also watch for  “mentions”. Platforms like Twitter allow for an extremely easy search of various words and terms. Simply plug-in your brand name, or specific terms that are associated with your business and hit “search” to see what people are saying. There are programs available to allow you to do this with just about any site and they can be customized to fit your business.

Closing.

We chose not to get into the details regarding many of the topics at hand above. The sole purpose behind this post was to educate small businesses on the growing importance of customer experiences. What they are, how they work and why they matter. We value feedback, did something in this post standout? Do you have an opinion, question or criticism? Share it with us and let’s get social!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Small Business Supporting Small Business

Small Business Needs?

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First rule of small business: Shop Local.

Recently there was an ad on the local radio for the UPS Small Business Store. According to this advertisement, this is the store you go to for all of your small business needs.

I found that interesting. I also found it a little conflicting. It may be an old fashioned notion, but it is our belief that small businesses need to stick together, support one another and keep it local whenever possible.

This notion was reinforced this past weekend as I stopped to chat with Randy Derksen of Sunridge DeSigns in Armstrong, BC.

Sunridge DeSigns embodies everything we love about small business. Made up of a husband and wife duo, Randy and Debi have built Sunridge from the ground up. They are involved in local initiatives and charitable groups and they are active members in the local Chamber of Commerce (supplying signs ranging from print to sandblasted, to the local small businesses). What is more, their work is good – VERY GOOD.

Randy and I spoke at length about the local community, the support and the overall zeitgeist of local business in the Okanagan, BC.

Obviously the last few years had been a challenge.  As the economy tightened, so had advertising budgets. Yet what was interesting to note, Randy pointed out, was that throughout all of it, a change in mindset had begun to appear. More small businesses were returning to sourcing their work locally, instead of purchasing online or from big box stores.

Image source: Hyperlocal101.com

Small Business Supporting Small Business.

There has been a push for businesses to save money via online sourcing. They are encouraged to source their designs, print work, web work, and advertising materials from online sites that promise monetary savings.

Saving money is a good thing. Small Business budgets are often… well, small.

However there are costs to sourcing work out this way. You may save a few pennies per card or get a logo dirt cheap, but consider these points.

  • Small Business is built on relational and community business. Spend money locally and it will always find its way back to you. Source work locally and they will return the favour.
  • On the flip side, source work and spend your budget online, you will never see that favour returned.
  • Source locally and one enters a conversation, the beginnings of a relationship, with that business. Relationships develop repeat business opportunities. Sourcing online provides no such opportunities.
  • Source a logo online for cheap and you will get what you pay for. Branding is not something to leave to chance. A logo speaks about your business, it defines you, it is the visual stimulus that will remain in the consumers mind. Should this be sourced out to the lowest bidder?
  • Keep in mind that just because it is online does not necessarily mean it is cheaper. Always source pricing locally to compare.  Unless the savings are significant and cannot be beaten, supporting local is always the way to go.

As Randy pointed out, it has been encouraging to see a return to the “100 mile” mindset, of supporting local. Small businesses need to support one another, build community and develop mutually beneficial relationships.

Small Business thrives off of community, it thrives off of the local population. There is a different manner of thinking for small business owners, and it is that manner of thinking that defines small business as a whole.

We support local and are pleased and proud to do it.  What are your thoughts about sourcing locally?

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists