How To WOW Your Customer To Love Your Brand

There’s a lot more to your brand than a logo and tagline. The brand of your company is made up of virtually everything that your business does and every experience your customer has with your company. This all determines whether the customer falls in love with you or they walk away, never to be seen again.  When your brand strategy and the experience you deliver to consumers are inextricably linked, you’ll achieve increased demand, greater share of wallet and loyalty levels competitors will envy.

Satisfied customers are nice, but delighted customers are more likely to return.

Delight customers repeatedly, and at every touchpoint, and you will earn yourself some raving fans! The first key is to nail the basics. It doesn’t matter how many red-carpets you roll out if you’re not delivering a good customer experience (Cx), consistently. You can only dazzle customers for so long. Eventually, they’re going to see behind the curtain.

However, once you’ve got a good handle on the basics and moved customers from satisfied to delighted, add WOW Moments. These are the unexpected moments that surprise and delight your prospects and customers. 

Do Your Customers Like You?
Better Still, To Build a Lasting Brand, Customers Must Love You! 

It really is simple. You just have to get people to like you. Let’s face it; people do business with people they like. They don’t want to buy their new car from a shyster salesman. And they aren’t going to continue using a dry cleaner that consistency destroys their clothes. So, obviously, you need to start by doing your job. And doing it well, by WOWing your customers. If you do it well enough, you may eventually have customers talking about you, in a good way. And that could be the start of building your new WOW brand. We’ve been doing that here at BranWorks for 40 years. Get your customer touchpoints right with remarkable experiences and WOW moments, and before you know it, you can have the brand that you’ve always wanted.

A Moment of Surprise & Delight.

We Like to Call Them 

WOW Moments.

WOW moments can be little, everyday things like an unlikely score in the game or a snappy text from a friend. They can also be big moments; moments that make you think twice. In that blip of time, everything changes. In a good way. WOW moments blindside you, and you’re thankful for the surprise. But just getting what you want isn’t a WOW moment; it’s getting EXACTLY what you want when you didn’t know you needed it.

Brands that WOW survive for lifetimes. They go beyond a product or service, they become a lifestyle. Loyalty doesn’t come for free; you have to do something meaningful first. 

Brands that WOW deliver maximum ROI. Whether you’re a national name or local watering hole, BranWorks works hard to deliver customer experiences and branding strategy without demanding an arm and a leg from you.


About the Author

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at www.BranWorks.com.

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WOW Branding

There’s a lot more to your brand than a logo and tagline. The brand of your company is made up of virtually everything that your business does and every experience your customer has with your company. This all determines whether they become a loyal customer or they walk away, never to be seen again. Here are some things to think about in your quest to position your business at the top of the ladder in your niche. 

 

Exactly Why Are You in Business?

Being a “Jack Of All Trades” is NOT your objective. On the contrary, you want to specialize. Being a specialist is the easiest way to stand out in the marketplace. It’s tempting to offer a wide array of products so that you’ll think you have an answer for every need. But don’t do it! Instead, become the expert at what you do and do it better than anyone else. That’s how you become known as the number one source, and a potential Category of One company.

 

Clearly Define Your Brand Promise

Your brand promise is the most powerful statement you can make to your customers. It tells them what they can expect from you every time they do business with you. It’s a real promise that you can prove every day. This promise is drawn from the Brand Audit you conducted for your brand and is based on your culture, analyses of your customers, competitors and employees and how you do business. Plus it shows customers how you can make their problems go away. This statement is all about how you make their lives better, and why they can’t get the same satisfaction anywhere else.

Here are some brand promises that you may be familiar with:

  • McDonald’s: fast food with a consistent taste and service, regardless of whether you are in Richmond or Rio.
  • Starbucks: good coffee in an inviting atmosphere — your home away from home
  • CarMax: You’ll never have to “haggle” for a car
  • Zappos.com: you pick the shoe; it’ll be there before you know it.

Everything you do to market your small business, or interface with your customer should reflect your brand promise. This includes things that you may, or may not have realized. It all adds up, the phone conversations, the manner in which the phone is answered, the look of company vehicles, your ads, company uniforms, even the color of your hair. Ask this question when developing your brand promise-“What is the one reason my customers buy from me?” The more specific the answer, the better your brand promise.

 

Describe You Target Customer

"What's Branding and Should Small Business Care?"You can’t serve everyone. If you are a guitar shop, you serve certain musicians. Day cares serve families. Tennis clubs serve tennis players. So you need to know who your customer is in order to properly provide what they need. And if you don’t know who to target as new customers, use the top 10 percent of your current customer base as a guide.

 

Be Authentic And Honest About Who You Are

When your brand speaks, it must tell it like it is. No inconsistency or confusion in the marketplace. If you’ve defined your market properly, that shouldn’t pose any problems. In other words, don’t be hip and casual if you are in the funeral business.

 

Clearly Define Your Value Proposition

Your Value Proposition is the statement that explains why you are better than your competition, and why. If you’re going to know what you do best and how that stacks up against your competition, you need to know your competition, and know them well. You’ll need to know how to pump up your strong points and play down your weaknesses. Or, to make adjustments so that those weaknesses are no longer weaknesses, and perhaps become strengths. For example, if you are a café in the suburbs, your position may be the neighborhood restaurant with easy parking.

 

Be Consistent And Look Like A Professional Business

Owner-31-BEvery piece of communication or sales materials should look like it all came from the same source. Reuse your primary selling points and specifically your Value Proposition. That goes for websites, brochures, signs or ads. The logo and tagline goes on everything. And don’t overlook colors, fonts, imagery, signage, packagingand all events.

 

Talk With Your Customers Regularly

You should have an on-going dialog with your customers all the time. It may be when they come in the store, a phone call or an email. But that interaction continues even when they’re not doing business with you. Here are some ways to keep the conversation going:

  • Post How-To video of your products or services to your Web site, Facebook page or YouTube.
  • Post a poll on Facebook. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with your business. (Ask if they are going to the Easter Parade.)
  • Ask for product reviews on your site and on other websites where your products are being offered.
  • Respond proactively and professionally to Yelp! or Angie’s List. Don’t ignore them.
  • Conduct customer appreciation days so they see you in a different light; people love to know they make a difference.
  • Share interesting information, don’t just send ads.
  • Send out email newsletters specifically aimed at your customers’ interests or purchase habits.
  • Send testimonials of satisfied customers.
  • Use customer satisfaction surveys regularly.

 

Give Customers a Great Consistent Experience at Every TouchPoint

It’s the Internet age and that makes it easier to reach our customers, but also harder in many ways. Even thought they are only a click away, you may never see them face-to-face. To compensate for that you need to make customer service the center of everything you do, and become known as the brand that is always there for the customer and gives the ultimate in service. There’s a tire dealer on the west coast who “runs” to the car when you pull onto his lot. That’s how bad he wants your business. Be constantly on the lookout for ideas of how you can make your customer service better. Consider how you can make an ever better impression, if the customer:

  • Sees your ad, mailing, Facebook page, or Web site for the first time.
  • Walks into your shop.
  • Calls you.
  • Places an order by phone or Website.
  • Sends you an inquiring email.
  • Signs up for your customer mailing list.
  • Returns for another purchase.

It may seem like a lot of extra work, but the end result is all worth it. Did you know there was a “Word of Mouth Association”? Me neither, but they claim that 55% of consumers recommend companies because of great customer service.

 

It Pays Off In The End-Big Time!

When you get started, this will seem like a lot of work. But you’re building your brand, and once you get it all rolling, it will become a lot easier and more routine. There are expert brand consultants and coaches that can make this exercise much easier. It’s important to stay on top of these branding initiatives to be sure that your efforts are consistent and steadily improving your brand. The salvation is going to be what you see on the bottom line in the months and years to come. Explore how we do it here at BranWorks.


About the Author

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at www.BranWorks.com

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Tried to start a new business lately? It takes a lot of energy, time and Starbucks to get it off the ground. It’s tough, and even painful sometimes. You loose all your sleep, but at the same time your excited, anxious and scared to death.

You’re thinking you’re entire future is hanging in the balance, as you dream about how the world will be a different place as soon as you get this thing off the ground.

As a startup, you have a strong need to get this baby generating revenue before your seed money vanishes. So you’re feeling the pressure to launch NOW! And that’s normal. When most companies get their goals and strategy down, they launch. The first things to be addressed: logos, voice, social media and website are at the top of the list. It’s hard to argue with that thinking since all of the pundits offer these as the steps to build your brand.

But, here’s the rub. Brand identity and brand awareness are getting all of the attention. But wait a minute! Aren’t we missing something here? Isn’t branding more than logos, colors, voice and tone? Duh!

So, think about it. What is a brand anyway?

Isn’t your brand the experience you deliver to your customers? Remember the expression “your brand is how you make your customers feel”. The entire essence of this brand is about your connection with the customer, getting to know them and why they love you. After you learn all of this, then you can create the visual identity. So why do startups get this wrong so often? Here are a few suggestions:

Forget About Connection and Depend on Assumption

Entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in their concept and perfecting everything that they just fall in love with their idea. They focus on brand awareness and brand identity and don’t even think about asking their customers for feedback. And if they do get feedback, they just ignore it.

Startups are convinced their branding will cause customers to fall in love with their company if they have the right website, logo and marketing. And don’t try telling them otherwise. They simply ignore the customer and let the brand experience fall by the wayside.

Ready – Fire – Aim!

If this is the approach you’re going to take, you’re risking the fact that your brand won’t even resonate with the market. And if you don’t connect with customers, the result is a forgone conclusion. Trouble.

So what happens is you wind up fine-tuning the things that the customers don’t care about. Eventually the startup runs out of money and they finally realize what they’re missing: brand experience.

The Brand Identity Mistake

Entrepreneurs miss the boat by focusing on brand awareness and identity and they ignore brand experience. They wind up spending years promoting products the customers don’t even care about. No website design or logo is going to solve a flawed product/service. If they don’t get the brand experience right, brand identity doesn’t even matter. Why keep trying to add customers when your current customers don’t even love your product?

How to Nail Your Brand Experience

Neither you nor your web firm is qualified to evaluate brand experience. To do that you have to talk to real customers. By getting feedback from your customers, you can find out what they really feel about your brand and its value, plus you can use that feedback to make your product/service better, quickly.

Brand experience questions to ask your customers:

  1. Ask customers, “What would happen if you couldn’t use our product any more?” You want them to be unhappy in this scenario.
  2. Ask them why they would be unhappy and what is the main benefit they receive from your product.
  3. If your product was no longer on the market, what would they do as an alternative?
  4. Find out how your customers would describe your product to a friend.
  5. What type of person do you think would benefit most from your product?
  6. How can we improve our product to better meet your needs?

Which Method Makes More Sense? 

So, you have a choice, talk to your customers and find out how you can improve, or spend all of your money first without getting any results. Then talk to customers to find out how to improve.

So get your priorities straight. Improve your brand experience first. Don’t worry so much about the perfect brand identity or growing your company until you’ve built a tribe of passionate customers.  Nail it first, scale it second.

 

About the Author

 Gordon at St. John

Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps build killer brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.

There’s a lot more to your brand than a logo and tagline. The brand of your company is made up of virtually everything that your business does and every experience your customer has with your company. This all determines whether they become a loyal customer or they walk away, never to be seen again. Here are some things to think about in your quest to position your business at the top of the ladder in your niche.

 

Exactly Why Are You in Business?

Being a “Jack Of All Trades” is NOT your objective. On the contrary, you want to specialize. Being a specialist is the easiest way to stand out in the marketplace. It’s tempting to offer a wide array of products so that you’ll think you have an answer for every need. But don’t do it! Instead, become the expert at what you do and do it better than anyone else. That’s how you become known as the number one source, and a potential Category of One company.

 

Clearly Define Your Brand Promise

Your brand promise is the most powerful statement you can make to your customers. It tells them what they can expect from you every time they do business with you. It’s a real promise that you can prove every day. This promise is drawn from the Brand Audit you conducted for your brand and is based on your culture, analyses of your customers, competitors and employees and how you do business. Plus it shows customers how you can make their problems go away. This statement is all about how you make their lives better, and why they can’t get the same satisfaction anywhere else.

Here are some brand promises that you may be familiar with:

  • McDonald’s: fast food with a consistent taste and service, regardless of whether you are in Richmond or Rio.
  • Starbucks: good coffee in an inviting atmosphere — your home away from home
  • CarMax: You’ll never have to “haggle” for a car
  • Zappos.com: you pick the shoe; it’ll be there before you know it.

Everything you do to market your small business, or interface with your customer should reflect your brand promise. This includes things that you may, or may not have realized. It all adds up, the phone conversations, the manner in which the phone is answered, the look of company vehicles, your ads, company uniforms, even the color of your hair. Ask this question when developing your brand promise-“What is the one reason my customers buy from me?” The more specific the answer, the better your brand promise.

 

Describe You Target Customer

"What's Branding and Should Small Business Care?"You can’t serve everyone. If you are a guitar shop, you serve certain musicians. Day cares serve families. Tennis clubs serve tennis players. So you need to know who your customer is in order to properly provide what they need. And if you don’t know who to target as new customers, use the top 10 percent of your current customer base as a guide.

 

Be Authentic And Honest About Who You Are

When your brand speaks, it must tell it like it is. No inconsistency or confusion in the marketplace. If you’ve defined your market properly, that shouldn’t pose any problems. In other words, don’t be hip and casual if you are in the funeral business.

 

Clearly Define Your Value Proposition

Your Value Proposition is the statement that explains why you are better than your competition, and why. If you’re going to know what you do best and how that stacks up against your competition, you need to know your competition, and know them well. You’ll need to know how to pump up your strong points and play down your weaknesses. Or, to make adjustments so that those weaknesses are no longer weaknesses, and perhaps become strengths. For example, if you are a café in the suburbs, your position may be the neighborhood restaurant with easy parking.

 

Be Consistent And Look Like A Professional Business

Owner-31-BEvery piece of communication or sales materials should look like it all came from the same source. Reuse your primary selling points and specifically your Value Proposition. That goes for websites, brochures, signs or ads. The logo and tagline goes on everything. And don’t overlook colors, fonts, imagery, signage, packagingand all events.

 

Talk With Your Customers Regularly

You should have an on-going dialog with your customers all the time. It may be when they come in the store, a phone call or an email. But that interaction continues even when they’re not doing business with you. Here are some ways to keep the conversation going:

  • Post How-To video of your products or services to your Web site, Facebook page or YouTube.
  • Post a poll on Facebook. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with your business. (Ask if they are going to the Easter Parade.)
  • Ask for product reviews on your site and on other websites where your products are being offered.
  • Respond proactively and professionally to Yelp! or Angie’s List. Don’t ignore them.
  • Conduct customer appreciation days so they see you in a different light; people love to know they make a difference.
  • Share interesting information, don’t just send ads.
  • Send out email newsletters specifically aimed at your customers’ interests or purchase habits.
  • Send testimonials of satisfied customers.
  • Use customer satisfaction surveys regularly.

 

Give Customers a Great Consistent Experience at Every TouchPoint

It’s the Internet age and that makes it easier to reach our customers, but also harder in many ways. Even thought they are only a click away, you may never see them face-to-face. To compensate for that you need to make customer service the center of everything you do, and become known as the brand that is always there for the customer and gives the ultimate in service. There’s a tire dealer on the west coast who “runs” to the car when you pull onto his lot. That’s how bad he wants your business. Be constantly on the lookout for ideas of how you can make your customer service better. Consider how you can make an ever better impression, if the customer:

  • Sees your ad, mailing, Facebook page, or Web site for the first time.
  • Walks into your shop.
  • Calls you.
  • Places an order by phone or Website.
  • Sends you an inquiring email.
  • Signs up for your customer mailing list.
  • Returns for another purchase.

It may seem like a lot of extra work, but the end result is all worth it. Did you know there was a “Word of Mouth Association”? Me neither, but they claim that 55% of consumers recommend companies because of great customer service.

 

It Pays Off In The End-Big Time!

When you get started, this will seem like a lot of work. But you’re building your brand, and once you get it all rolling, it will become a lot easier and more routine. There are expert brand consultants and coaches that can make this exercise much easier. It’s important to stay on top of these branding initiatives to be sure that your efforts are consistent and steadily improving your brand. The salvation is going to be what you see on the bottom line in the months and years to come. Explore how we do it here at BranWorks.


About the Author

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at www.BranWorks.com.

5 Ways To Beat The Big Guys

You’re going to have a hard time surviving against the big box stores if you don’t get smart and go after those guys. There are at least 5 ways to beat ‘em without having to fight them on price.

It’s amazing how many small retailers don’t get it. After all, there’s no way they will be able to compete on price with the Wal-Mart’s and Amazons of the world. To win, they have to compete on experience.

A great example of how a specialty retail store wins is Tinker Toys of Abilene, Texas. This small chain of four stores is owned and operated by a fiery entrepreneur, Betsy Barton. When you walk into Tinker Toys, you don’t expect great deals on the clearance rack (there is no clearance rack.) But what you will get is an awesome experience.

Here are 5 things that Tinker Toys teaches about how to compete on something besides price:

1. Offer Incentives

Kid in toy store-2When you walk thru the Tinker Toys door, there is always someone there with a big smile. Before you know it, you have a toy shoved into your hands. It’s a small store but with plenty of room to play. Which makes for a virtual playground. And kids love it. Tinker Toys is constantly holding sidewalk sales, outdoor festivals and fundraisers to get the community involved.

2. It’s All About Value

Tinker Toys doesn’t shy away from their higher prices because they make up for them by providing an awesome experience. Regulars get a newsletter with frequent specials, as well as special deals offered on social media. They put the customer experience above everything else.

3. Differentiate

The big box stores aren’t going to take chances on new and different products. So the smaller stores get the first crack at the really cool stuff. And the cool stuff is what their customers look for. Often these odditiesNEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: Children play on the "Big Piano," made famous by the movie Big, in FAO Schwarz toy store on July 14, 2015 in New York City. The famed toy store will close it's doors for good July 15, and it's its owner, Toys "R"Us, is said to be looking for another location after rent at its current address was deemed too high. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) become their best sellers. Nowadays, Tinker Toys is one of the first stores to be involved in new product testing, so they get the first shot at all the new ideas.

4. Go Online

Tinker Toys may be small by comparison, but they have a great catalog and website to go along with that great in-store experience. We all know that online shopping is going nowhere but up, so offering this alternative for shopping will definitely be a strong key to Tinker Toys’ future success.

5. Be Social

Tinker Toys does a super job of attracting and retaining loyal, local customers. That fun newsletter, on-going website updates, social media exposure and an owner who is known by everyone in Abilene and throughout the toy industry keeps their fans constantly engaged. All retail businesses need to be active on social media.

For retailers to compete with the big box stores is always a daunting task. It just takes hard work and there’s no short cut to success. Betsy Barton is one of the hardest workers in the toy business, but if you watch her closely, you’ll never know she’s working hard. She looks like she’s simply having a great time, doing what she really loves. Which she is.


About the Author

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at our website at https://branworks.com/wow-branding/

9 Values of a Lovable Business

Lovable businesses are the high growth and highly profitable ones that perform well whatever the market conditions. A lovable business can be defined by these 9 values: listening, storytelling, authenticity, responsiveness, team playing, high quality products & services, treating the customer like a valued partner  and being grateful and saying “thank you”. 

♥  Listening – Listening effectively is at the heart of a lovable business. Everything else is built around listening. When businesses are listening effectively they are able to make the right decisions at the right time to delight their customers. This ignites referrals and advocacy and leads to more customers and more profits. For service businesses it is crucial to find out what customers are saying about their customer-facing staff. Customer-facing employees are their sales staff, sales support staff, customer service staff, technical support staff and their key customer-facing managers. Feedback on how your customers feel after interacting with your customer-facing staff is essential for responding to anything that puts them off from coming back. The questions that you need answers for are: a. you need to know if the customer was promptly attended to, b. you need to know if the staff member was polite and attentive c. you need to know whether the staff member was knowledgeable enough to provide the right answers from the customer’s point of view and finally d. you need to know how well your customer was communicated to by your staff member.

♥  Storytelling – Storytelling is probably as old as language and we seem deeply attached to it. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives customers to take action. If you are able to tell a captivating story about your employee who interacted with them while asking for feedback to improve your service, you would have done two things at the same time and both effectively. Firstly helped the employee create a lasting impression, a reason to come back while at the same time leaving the customer satisfied that their voice is heard.  Listening and storytelling are at the heart of creating a lovable business. 

♥ Authenticity – Vulnerability and humility create positive and attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but social media has blurred that line. Lovable employees are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional life together and in this transparency helps create that vulnerability that triggers authenticity.  

♥ Responsiveness – Responsiveness to customers and the speed of it is key to building up a lovable company. All stakeholders are potential viral spark plugs these days so responsiveness matters. Responding shows you care and gives your customers and employees a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on your business.

♥ Team Playing – No matter the size of your business as long as you are in business you’ll need to interact with customers every day. How effectively you interact relies on teamwork. Letting employees shine, encouraging them to innovate and while keeping a sharp focus on team working will help you become a lovable business.

♥ Don’t Come on Too Strong – Respect Your Customers – A third of consumers say they experience rude customer service at least once a month, and 58% of them tell their friends. This is exactly how word of mouth can work against your company’s reputation for the long-term. It’s very important to be respectful of a customer’s mood when trying to resolve an issue they have with your company.

Keeping your patience is key to giving your customer the time to air out their issue. And, in turn, it creates the opportunity for you to help resolve the issue and make them comfortable. The more comfortable the customer is the more likely they’ll share valuable feedback that can help prevent similar issues from occurring again in the future.

♥ High Quality Products & Services – You should strive to create high-quality products and services. For example, If you write e-books and reports make sure all the content is accurate and timely. Most folks remember good-quality and won’t hesitate to recommend products and services they truly like. This is one of the easiest ways to build a lovable business. In addition, when you are consistently creating quality content and products, you are building expert credibility and authority in your niche.

♥ Treating the Customer Like a Valued Partner – Take your customer’s feedback seriously and act upon reasonable requests. What’s the point of listening if you’re not going to act on that feedback? Make sure it’s clear that you want your customer’s feedback and that your business truly values them as a partner.

♥ Gratefulness – Lovable companies are grateful to people who contribute to their success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to customers keeps them feeling appreciated. When it is easy for your employees to express their gratitude to customers, it’s also easy to build a lovable company.

Finally, should a business have someone in charge of ensuring lovability? Everyone in the company should be involved in ensuring lovability, and it starts at the top. It’s not a task that is assigned solely to one person. For a business to be truly lovable, everyone from the boss to the delivery guy needs to be working together to make it happen. Managers leading by example will be able to set pace in building a team of amazingly lovable employees and a lovable business.


About the Author
Gordon Conner
is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at https://branworks.com/customer-experience-2/

You’re going to have a hard time surviving against the big box stores if you don’t get smart and go after those guys. There are at least 5 ways to beat ‘em without having to fight them on price.

It’s amazing how many small retailers don’t get it. After all, there’s no way they will be able to compete on price with the Wal-Mart’s and Amazons of the world. To win, they have to compete on experience.

A great example of how a specialty retail store wins is Tinker Toys of Abilene, Texas. This small chain of four stores is owned and operated by a fiery entrepreneur, Betsy Barton. When you walk into Tinker Toys, you don’t expect great deals on the clearance rack (there is no clearance rack.) But what you will get is an awesome experience.

Here are 5 things that Tinker Toys teaches about how to compete on something besides price:

1. Offer Incentives

Kid in toy store-2When you walk thru the Tinker Toys door, there is always someone there with a big smile. Before you know it, you have a toy shoved into your hands. It’s a small store but with plenty of room to play. Which makes for a virtual playground. And kids love it. Tinker Toys is constantly holding sidewalk sales, outdoor festivals and fundraisers to get the community involved.

2. It’s All About Value

Tinker Toys doesn’t shy away from their higher prices because they make up for them by providing an awesome experience. Regulars get a newsletter with frequent specials, as well as special deals offered on social media. They put the customer experience above everything else.

3. Differentiate

The big box stores aren’t going to take chances on new and different products. So the smaller stores get the first crack at the really cool stuff. And the cool stuff is what their customers look for. Often these odditiesNEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: Children play on the "Big Piano," made famous by the movie Big, in FAO Schwarz toy store on July 14, 2015 in New York City. The famed toy store will close it's doors for good July 15, and it's its owner, Toys "R"Us, is said to be looking for another location after rent at its current address was deemed too high. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) become their best sellers. Nowadays, Tinker Toys is one of the first stores to be involved in new product testing, so they get the first shot at all the new ideas.

4. Go Online

Tinker Toys may be small by comparison, but they have a great catalog and website to go along with that great in-store experience. We all know that online shopping is going nowhere but up, so offering this alternative for shopping will definitely be a strong key to Tinker Toys’ future success.

5. Be Social

Tinker Toys does a super job of attracting and retaining loyal, local customers. That fun newsletter, on-going website updates, social media exposure and an owner who is known by everyone in Abilene and throughout the toy industry keeps their fans constantly engaged. All retail businesses need to be active on social media.

For retailers to compete with the big box stores is always a daunting task. It just takes hard work and there’s no short cut to success. Betsy Barton is one of the hardest workers in the toy business, but if you watch her closely, you’ll never know she’s working hard. She looks like she’s simply having a great time, doing what she really loves. Which she is.

 

 

No one cares if your product or service is “good.”

Every competitor in your industry has “good products.” But why would anyone want to do business with you? Is your product/service better than your competitor’s? How? If not, how could it be better? Is your competitor better than you? How can you match, or beat him? Customers see your company as a commodity business. That means that you have to be better at everything, plus offer something that your competitors can’t, or won’t. Does it have to be price, or can it be something else? If you can’t answer that question with a clear definitive reason (your tiebreaker), you have some work to do.

You need to analyze the positioning of your competitors (and the experience of their customers) so you can differentiate yourself. Your competition is anybody that does something your customer likes, regardless of the industry. Examples would be; returning phone calls within the hour, instead of 24 hours, knowing the customer’s name, and calling customers to help, rather than to sell them something. Once you have that Value Proposition clearly defined, then you launch an all-out attack to set yourself apart and give your customers and prospects a clear reason to select you above everyone else, and put you into a Category of One. Once you know what rules to break, break ’em. 

Our Goal at BranWorks

We want to help you be the best brand in your category, or maybe even start your own category. You can do that by building a WOW brand. But, to accomplish that you need to provide the ultimate buying experience for your customer. Be sure that she has no other option but to buy from you, because no one else can, or will measure up. We’ll help!


About the Author

iPhone 857Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or http://www.BranWorks.com.

By: Gordon Conner 

As a business owner, I’m sure you want to offer the best customer satisfaction and overall brand experience possible. But if you don’t solidify every customer touchpoint, you may not have the happiest campers for customers. You may have a great product, be right on time and smile like a Cheshire cat, but if you have one off-color ad, screw up the customer’s bill or have an unnavigable website, your precious customer may wide up heading for the hills. The good news is, you can control most of it. So make a list and start listening.

Just what are customer touchpoints?

Whenever your customer comes into contact with your business, that’s a touchpoint. For example, if your customer finds out about you through an ad or somewhere online, that’s a touchpoint. If they just happened into your store, that’s a touchpoint. If they saw your delivery truck running down the road, that’s a touchpoint. If she’s turned off by your pink Mohawk, that’s a touchpoint. And on, and on, and on. Long list huh? Yup!

So what are touchpoints?
Touchpoint definition: A touchpoint is any time a customer or potential customer, comes in contact with your brand–before, during, or after they purchase something from you.

Getting a handle on these touchpoints is the first step in defining your customer’s journey with you and insuring they are tickled the whole way. To be sure you don’t miss anything and overlook a touchpoint or two, here’s the plan.

Let’s find your customer touchpoints

Start with a list of all of the places your customer might have any contact with your brand. Here is a list of possibilities, but depending on your business, your list could be quite different.

Before Purchase
Social media

Ratings & reviews
Testimonials
Word of Mouth
Community Involvement
Advertising
Marketing/PR

During Purchase
Store or office

Website
Catalog
Promotions
Staff or Sales Team
Phone System
Point of Sale

After Purchase
Billing

Transactional Emails
Marketing Emails
Service & Support Teams
Online Help Center
Follow ups
Thank You Cards

Keep in mind; this is just the starting point. Each of these can have sub categories. For example, advertising can have a lot of channels, and the physical store can include the parking lot, signs and all of the contact that goes on inside the store.

Afraid you’ll miss a few touchpoints? Look at it from the customer’s perspective.

Since there are so many ways for your customer to come into contact with your brand, you may feel this list is overwhelming at first. But, let’s simplify it a little. Let’s take you out of your role and put you into the customer’s shoes for a minute.

OK, Now you’re the customer. You ready? Get a pen and piece of paper because you’re going to need to take notes.

Here are your questions:

Where do you go (and how do you get there) when you:

  • Need to solve a problem?
  • Find the best product or business to solve that problem?
  • Decide what to buy?
  • Have contact with the business after you buy?

If you simply walk through the customer’s journey, one step at a time, it will all fall into place for you.

You can do the same thing by asking your customers to walk through it with you, or put these questions into a survey for them to answer.

Use your touchpoint list and get some customer feedback

Now that you have your list of touchpoints, you’re half way there. Your job now is to make sure every touchpoint leads to the very best experience you could possibly offer your customers, and the complete journey delivers everything your customer could hope for, and more.


About the Author

 Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.comor read more at www.BranWorks.com

Creating a strong brand is serious business. Choosing typefaces and taglines isn’t enough: You first have to think deeply about your company’s personality. 

People focus too much on the external trappings of brand marketing, such as names, logos, and mottos. Such identifiers are important, but they only serve to signify the brand, not create it. 

Instead, the essence of a brand is not the exterior elements, but how you feel about the product or service.

Create Your Brand Personality

So, first consider what feelings you want to inspire in people. This will relate to the values you want your brand to embody. Think of this as your “brand personality.”

Are you easygoing and fun? Serious and professional? Iconoclastic and rebellious? What about witty? Nerdy? Idealistic? Caring? Here’s a worksheet that might help you decide. 

Your brand personality will come through in everything you do, from your interactions with your customers, to the voice you use in communications, to the visual elements you use.

Delight Your Customers

Every brand persona, no matter how edgy, should be geared toward providing customers a positive WOW! experience. That’s why it’s important to your brand to focus on responsiveness, communication, and service—all done in your own way to match your distinctive persona.

5 Reasons Brand Identity is Important for Your Business

A strong and recognizable brand can help a business be more successful, which is why creating an effective brand identity is so important. But what all does a brand identity entail, and why is it so important?

What is a brand identity?

When you create a brand identity, you’re essentially applying your brand values to any visual elements that will be used to promote your business. This means that a brand identity is more than just a logo, and consists of a variety of marketing materials. This might include:

  • Business cards
  • Stationary
  • Print materials (brochures, reports, flyers, etc.)
  • Signage
  • Product packaging
  • Apparel
  • Website
  • Logo
  • Color Palette
  • Fonts
  • Tag line
  • Imagery
  • Branding Guide

Keep Your Fans Feeling Good

Developing a cohesive and professional brand identity is an important part of any effective branding strategy. Creating a brand identity requires research and attention to detail in order to develop a style that successfully meets the goals of a business and gives off the appropriate message. Once a brand identity is created, many companies provide guidelines for how their brand should be represented on various mediums to ensure consistency.

The point of branding your company is to help customers fall in love with you. The values you choose to adhere to and the way you project those values will appeal to certain types of people—your target customers. Make those people feel good about you and you’re on your way to branding—and business—success.


About the Publisher

 Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at www.BranWorks.com
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By Annette Franz

Are you following the 10 Commandments of Customer Experiences? Or is it time for a confession?

In May 2016, I spoke at CallidusCloud Connections (C3); if you’ve never been to this event, be sure to check it out this year! The topic of my session was The 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience. With the topic of today’s blog post, I seem to be on a bit of a spiritual customer experience journey.

In thinking about the customer experience, there are at least 10 Commandments that must be adhered to as you embark on your customer experience journey. These are essentials to ensure a successful customer experience transformation. Here’s what I’ve come up with, in no particular order.

1. Thou shalt listen to customers and act on their feedback.
This is probably two commandments, but you really can’t do one without the other. Listening to customers is, without a doubt, important to designing a great experience and to business success. Without understanding customers, their expectations, and how well we perform against those expectations, we can never correctly or appropriately redesign the experience to meet their needs. But too many companies forget that the “work” doesn’t end with listening. It’s only just begun! You must act on what you hear.

2. Thou shalt map the customer journey in order to understand the experience.
You can’t transform something you don’t understand. If you don’t know and understand what the current state of the customer experience is, how can you possibly design the desired future state? Take the time to map it, and make sure you map it so that it’s actionable: map it from the customer’s viewpoint and be sure to bring in artifacts and data that bring the journey to life.

3. Thou shalt put employees more first.

The link between the employee experience and customer experience is real. And yet, many companies still refuse to make the employee experience a priority, focusing instead on shareholder value, the bottom line, or customer experience without considering the implications a poor employee experience has on all of the above. Yes, you’re in business to create and nurture customers. But without your employees, you have no customer experience. If employees aren’t happy, satisfied, and engaged, it will be very difficult for them to delight your customers. This is known as the spillover effect, i.e., “the tendency of one person’s emotions to affect how other people around him feel.”

4. Thou shalt define and communicate the brand promise.
A brand promise is, well, a promise to your customers. Everything you do should reflect this promise. It sets expectations and defines the benefits customers can expect to receive when they engage in your services or use your products, when they experience your brand. It’s not a mission statement or a brand position. It’s meant for employees and customers. Employees at all levels live the promise and deliver on it. In order for employees to deliver on it, they must know it, i.e.,  it must be clearly communicated to them and reiterated often.

5. Thou shalt hire for attitude and train for skill.

Hiring the right people for your company is always a challenge, but it’s critical. Get the right people in the door – not just those folks who fit your culture or your values but also those who truly want to be there, for the right reasons. Define what “right” means for your company. And when you have the right people, they will attract other “right people.” While you need to define what your culture fit looks like, typically hiring people who are positive, passionate about what you do and what the role entails, and love talking to and being around people will set you on a good path. With enthusiasm and passion for the brand, employees are eager to work hard and do what it takes to contribute to, and ensure, its success.

6. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s experience.
Imitation is the death of innovation. When imitating, there’s no need for innovation, right? Get motivated by what your competitors are doing, but don’t dwell on them. Don’t try to be just like them; nobody wins when you imitate. Instead, competition drives innovation, and vice versa. And innovation drives success, simply because it allows you and your competitors to offer a variety of products to meet your customers’ varying needs. When that happens, the customer wins. And then you do, too.

7. Thou shalt not proceed without getting executive commitment.
If your executives aren’t on board with developing a customer-focused and customer-centric organization, then forget it; it won’t happen. You might have localized or departmentalized efforts, but those will be siloed efforts that translate to siloed experiences for the customer. You must have global, cross-functional executive commitment; and most importantly, the CEO will lead the charge. Just know that, without executive commitment, you’ll never get resources – human, capital, or other – to execute on your customer experience strategy.

8. Thou shalt empower employees.
What does it mean to empower employees? Empowerment is all about responsibility, ownership, and accountability. It’s also about trust; the employee is given the keys to the castle and trusted to do what’s right for the customer and for the business. Empowerment means they never have to ask, “Is it OK if I do this for my customer?” Empowerment means not having to ask for permission. Because employees know. And why do they know? See the next commandment…

9. Thou shalt define a purpose, vision, and strategy.

Your purpose is your why. Why do you do what you do. Your vision is where you’re headed; the corporate vision must be aligned with the CX vision. The CX vision will be inspirational and aspirational; it will outline what you see as the future state of the customer experience. It will briefly describe the experience you plan to deliver. And it will serve as a guide to help choose future courses of action. Your strategy is how you’ll go about delivering on that vision.

10. Thou shalt communicate, communicate, communicate.

This one seems like such a no-brainer, but it’s one thing that folks need to be reminded of regularly: communication is critical to the successful execution of organizational and customer experience  transformations. Communication is a key leadership skill that must be mastered. With communication, we can instruct, motivate, convince and align the audience, drive open and candid discussions, share, and set expectations. It’s the most valuable tool in any relationship.

Bonus. Thou shalt kill bad policies and rules.
There’s one more commandment that I thought was worth adding as a bonus. In order to transform the organization and the experience, it’s imperative that we lose the “we’ve always done it that way” frame of mind. Question everything. Is there a better way to do something? Is there a stupid rule or policy in place whose origin cannot be recalled by anyone? Are there rules that make it painful for customers to do what it is that they’re trying to do? Are bad policies making it painful for employees to do their jobs well or to deliver the desired customer experience? Never let “that’s just how it’s always been done” get in the way of doing things more efficiently and with less effort.

Without a doubt, there are more customer experience commandments! Perhaps I’ll write about others in a future post. How many of these commandments have you fallen short on?


Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at https://branworks.com/customer-experience-2/

You know the back of your hand pretty well, right? How about your customers – do you know them? Like, *really* know them? Understanding who your customers are, and exactly what drives them, is important to increasing your conversion rate. When you make the decision to get to know your customers better, you’re making the decision to better your company and your brand.

1. Understand Your Demographics

The first thing you need to do to really understand your customers is to take a look at them. Who is buying products from you? Are you mostly getting sales from retired seniors? Is it internet billionaires who find your service irresistible? When you understand the demographics of the people purchasing from you, you’ll be able to take the next steps to truly understanding them.

2. Interact on Social Media

If you don’t have social media accounts for your company, you’re not giving your marketing strategy the teeth it needs to survive. Social media today allows you to truly interact with customers and clients. This gives you a completely new insight into the people you need to be working with. Through social media, you can find out who is buying, but more importantly you can interact with them.

Customer Analysis-3

3. Conduct Surveys

If you want honest feedback about your product or service, consider conducting surveys. There are a number of different types of surveys you can put out there. From customer service feedback to having surveys about the products, these help you understand how your customers think. Consider putting out personal surveys, as well. This gives you specific information on your customers.

4. Hit up Events

Are there small business expos or home shows in your area? How about in one of your target market areas? These events allow you to interact with customers one on one. When you go to these events, make sure that you’re up for the challenge. You may get customers that are happy with you, but you may also encounter those who have had trouble with your product or service. In addition, you’ll meet people who have never encountered your product before. Make sure to pay attention to the people who are interested in what you have to offer. Find out what interests them, and take this to heart.

5. Conduct Focus Groups

Customer Analysis-2Focus groups allow you to delve into the mind of customers and potential customers. You can spend some time with them in a laid back environment, asking questions about their lives and your product. Focus groups will generally yield a lot of information that other forums simply don’t. When you conduct a focus group, make sure that it is as laid back as possible. You want to get real information, you don’t want people telling you what they think you want to hear.

6. Create a Customer Profile (Persona)

You already know the demographics you’re working toward. Create a profile of the perfect customer. What is their family like? What are their interests and dislikes? When you create a customer profile you’re putting on paper what you think your customers are like. While you need to be willing to throw this out if you find your customer is someone else entirely, it’s a great way to start getting to know the needs of people purchasing from you.

7. Look at Your Data

Brand Plan-9If you already have customers, you also have data. You probably have more information on your visitors and customers than you think. Take a look at the analytics on your landing pages. This will let you know the physical locations of your customers. It also offers you information like what search terms they use to get to your landing page, and where they click once they’re on the page.

8. Let Go of Assumptions

If you really want to get to know who your customers are, you need to let go of assumptions or preconceived notions you have about them. This allows you a clean slate to truly understand where they are coming from, and what they want from you. This is especially important when you’re conducting surveys, meeting people, and interacting with those who have purchased or want to purchase from you. While it’s good to start with assumptions, be willing to let them go if it turns out that you were wrong in the first place.

Understanding your customers can be a long process. However, once you know them, you’ll be able to better advertise your products. While this can result in more sales, it also helps with customer loyalty. If people know that you’re truly interested in them, and not just the sale, they’re more likely to purchase again later.


About the Author

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. Read more from our blog at https://branworks.com/blog/, or visit our website at www.BranWorks.com
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