Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Is Your Brand Out-of-Control?

If you've answered "Yes," you are probably better off than you think. For years, companies have talked about "branding" as if it was something tangible that they could control.
Design a logo, write a tag line, test it with some focus groups, and viola! You have a brand.
No, actually, you have a logo, which is, at best, an image that people associate with your brand. A brand is best defined as: the customer's perception of your company. It's not what you tell your customers about your company, it's what they tell you.

You don't own your brand. Your customer owns your brand.
This is what makes the concept of "branding" so powerful. When your business strategy matches exactly the actual experiences of your customers, you have created an unstoppable marketing force.

So What Are Your Customers Saying?
Present day consumer research is certainly a useful tool for marketers, but reading survey results only provides you with half of the information that you need to make effective business decisions. A far better source for learning about customer expectations and experiences is the customers themselves. You must engage your customers.

Engage them in what? Engage them in conversations!
Every day, you and your customers have hundreds and thousands of conversations. Each of these events is the perfect opportunity to evaluate your product, service, and strategy, but too few of us pay attention to these conversations on a daily basis.

The perfect example of this is the front line sales interaction, be it in reservations, front desk, food & beverage, or any other opportunity to interact with your customer. The vast majority of these conversations are happening by the people in your organization who have the least training, and the least opportunity to take full advantage of this interaction.

To truly build a strong brand, you need to have your entire company working effectively to bring your business strategy in line with the customer’s actual experiences. Traditional marketing may get people to your website, store, or dialing your toll free number, but it is what happens from there that is the true crux of Marketing. It begins and ends with the conversation. The effective dialogue that you and your employees cultivate with your clients is the conduit to increase business and maximize profit. The conversation is the relationship, and it is all about Sales. Sales is the New Marketing.

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