(Part 2 of a 3 in a series)
The best organizations are encouraging and rewarding their customers for helping them to build their brands. In essence, the ecstatic (not merely satisfied) customers are becoming unofficial employees and very official brand ambassadors for the companies.
How can you create that dynamic at your organization?
Here are 3 suggestions:
Generate & maintain enthusiasm – this doesn’t only go for your employees. The enthusiasm has to be the contagious kind that spreads outside your 4 walls. In order to shift your branding from being just about “us” to being more inclusive of “them,” they have to share the passion and enthusiasm. Then they have to be willing to communicate the same to others that need to hear it! If you’re not fresh, fun, creative, and evolving, it will be difficult to achieve this. How do you go about it? Read last week’s post on “experiential marketing.”
Reward loyalty – your organization should take steps to identify your very best patrons. Pull some research reports – find out who’s “buttering your bread” and take appropriate steps to reward that kind of loyalty. The airlines do it through their Rewards programs – most of them now include a dollar-spend requirement to qualify for the different tiers (silver, gold, elite, diamond, etc.) It’s not just about how many miles you fly anymore. A lot of people were pretty upset when these changes were announced. From a consumer perspective, it can indeed seem that you’re being short-changed. However, from a pure business perspective, it makes perfect sense. Think about this – a person could fly from New York to Hong Kong once and be very close to achieving rewards status because of the number of miles flown. But they were able to get a great deal on the fare and only paid $750 for the ticket. By rewarding those that fly often and spend some significant coin on travel, it becomes easier for the airlines to justify giving out freebies. If you take steps to recognize and reward those that are most loyal to you, they will be more likely to become your brand Ambassadors.
Create experiences instead of products – my good friend Mark Arnold commented on last week’s post that introduced this 3-part series. His feedback read: “If consumers truly love you and are more than “satisfied” with you, they’ll have more products and services. For example, I don’t just love Apple–I have like all their products. So how is your product penetration looking these days? Increase engagement and you’ll increase sales.”
Apple is a perfect example – when you walk into an Apple store, they don’t just want you to buy a product. They want you to take you through a unique purchasing experience. The dumbest question that any retail sales associate can ask is “can I help you find something?” Why? Because the default answer that is given 98% of the time is “no thanks. Just looking.” Right? Apple associates let the products speak for themselves. They bring personal engagement and involvement to a different level. About a year ago, I converted to Apple products. As long as the experience of being an Apple customer continues to evolve and get better, Ill stick with them. It’s not just about the product. Could a better experience with another company come along? Absolutely! It’s the same with your organization. That’s why it is so important to keep the experience at the forefront of your strategizing.
By the way – my writing about Apple on this blog qualifies me as a “Brand Ambassador” which illustrates exactly what I mean by the term.
How can you create the experience? Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series that will be published next week!
Happy Labor Day!