Experts in our industry say the best marketing creates experiences. When that happens, the brand and the marketing meld together to become the experience.
This isn’t just about experiential marketing, which is an important component of success in marketing, and it isn’t just about getting the brand’s essence nailed, which is critical. It’s about every single touchpoint with a brand.
All interactions with a brand work together to drive preference, purchase, loyalty and advocacy. But there are some often-overlooked points of contact with your customers and prospects that become missed opportunities.
1. Search Engines
As the gatekeeper of the vast majority of information online, Google’s ranking of your brand is often an early interaction with a new customer. Especially if you are using broadcast media to drive awareness, through advertising or PR, you must consider that you will be found through search. Mobile makes this even more critical. The good news is that you can control so much of what people find when they search for you.
Voice search should also be on your radar, with estimates that 70 million U.S. households will be using a voice assistant by 2020. It will require a different specific effort, but it is the future for search.
Your website shouldn’t be on a list of overlooked brand experiences. But when was the last time you overhauled yours? If it’s been longer than three years — or you didn’t design for mobile first — it’s time. There’s a good chance that at least half of the visits to your website are on a mobile device. If you think people are impatient on their laptops, they are even more so on a mobile device. Your site needs to load in three seconds or less, or you will lose half of your mobile visitors.
Have you done any testing to learn why users visit your website on their phones? Are they looking for directions, hours or contact information? The answers to those questions are in your analytics data, and your website should take that into account along with a user interface that allows visitors to easily hit the right button and click to call.
Don’t forget visitors that aren’t on a mobile device. The reasons they are visiting may be different. You’ll find that in your analytics data, too. They might want more in-depth information, or they may have the same needs as a mobile visitor. Ensure that what they’re looking for is prominent. Also check regularly for broken links and other errors.
3. Hello and On-hold
What happens when a customer or prospect calls your business? (Assuming you’ve made it easy for them to find your number — see search engines above.) Does your brand require a helpful human voice and minimal on-hold time? Or is your brand suited to an automated system? What about the on-hold experience?
Many brands miss the opportunity to entertain and delight people while they wait to be connected. A point of pride at Paulsen is that our clients ask to be put back on hold to learn more facts about agriculture and rural lifestyle.
4. Statements and Invoices
Are your official business correspondences making your customers’ lives better or more painful? A thoughtful redesign of an invoice can improve an unappealing or even annoying part of your customer relationship simply by making pertinent information clear. Minimize the blah, blah, blah and bring focus to what actually needs action on their part.
5. Tech Support and Customer Service
This can be the toughest and most overwhelming area to improve, but it will give you the greatest return in loyalty and advocacy. It starts with hiring the right people. Then provide the training, support and opportunities for personal growth that equip and inspire them to really care about your customers.
If your brand has a weak culture, this is where it will be most detrimental to the business. Employees ultimately drive daily culture, but leadership must set the tone and parameters.
6. Curb Appeal
We’ve all had the experience of a really filthy gas station bathroom. And now that you have that image in your head, think about what it’s like for a prospect or customer to enter your location.
The first time I went to buy a bag of horse feed at an unfamiliar elevator, it struck me that there wasn’t an obvious place to enter the building. Everything looked like an employee entrance, except where customers drove in their trucks to unload.
Look with fresh eyes at the approach and entrance to your building, office or retail space. Make sure your customers don’t feel awkward, unimpressed or even repulsed by your physical plant.Signage matters. Cleanliness matters, too. What you invest in that experience speaks volumes about your brand.
7. Products and Services
The final and most powerful experience you may be overlooking is your brand’s product or service itself. The most compelling marketing in the world will never improve a bad product or ineffective service. It is the most important place to start on the journey to a great brand and marketing experience.