Friday, 27 February 2009

Brand organisation must ensure they deliver a joined-up brand experience

I have said before that brand organisations often operate in silos.

This issue is very real, as evidenced by ANA research last year that revealed that 59% of respondents think the existence of silos in a brand organisation is a most serious challenge in planning and executing integrated marketing.

 I read a useful one page excerpt of a book (written by David Aaker) aimed at CMOs that looks at how to solve the silo problem.

It has some very sound advice. [see article]

One point made is the need for: ‘clarity and linkage in silo-spanning brand strategy’

I want to build on that. 

If you are involved in planning and delivering brand strategy I suggest that you gather all other key stakeholders– marketing, sales, customer service, etc – and review whether your operation is delivering great brand experiences across every part of the business.  

In order to build a competitive advantage in these challenging time the objective of everyone in a business must be to ensure that a clear, consistent and joined-up brand experience is delivered throughout the path to advocacy

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Fitting a new delivery mechanism may not enhance the Coke brand experience

I see that Coke are going to test a new machine in US restaurants that can deliver 120 beverage flavours but only requires as much space as the standard eight-valve machine.


Chris Lowe (President Coca-Cola North America) says: “we saw a big opportunity to provide [more choice] while introducing a completely novel brand experience that can help catapult our customers' beverage offerings into the future”


I don’t really get it.


Sure, this machine should improve efficiency and maybe sell more drinks; however, I am not clear what it will do for the consumers brand experience.


Clearly it is vital for restaurants to build great brand experiences. For me this is achieved best by promising and delivering great food & beverages and adding some service magic that will really delight consumers.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Brand organisations must not under-estimate the power of social media

I posted recently about a great new book by Jeff Jarvis (What Would Google Do).


Another story in this book has helped me better understand the power of social media and how it is changing the game for brand organisations.


This story is  about what happened when Jarvis bought a dodgy lap-top from Dell in 2005. He explains that despite paying extra for at-home service, he spent hours on the telephone to overseas call centres, sent it back a number of times and had to start from square-one every time he called.


In desperation and to let off steam and wrote a blog untitled “Dell sucks.”


To cut a long story short what happened then was that others started to leave comments and links to his blog about their problem lap-tops. These actions took on a life of their own, soon creating a large anti-fan club that caused Jarvis’s blog to appear progressively higher in Google search and eventually reaching the first page under Dell’s home page.  


These conversations were starting to damage Dell’s brand.


Dell started to suffer declining customer satisfaction scores, revenues and share price. (Jarvis acknowledges that this was not solely down to his blog.)


Jarvis offered Michael Dell four tips:

1.    Read blogs about your brand

2.    Talk to your blogger consumers

3.    Blog yourself

4.    Listen then show us how you are going to improve and use bloggers to help.


If you want the full story and an explanation of how Dell turned it round, and loads of other good stuff, I suggest you buy the book.


For me his story clearly highlights 3 vital things:

·         Brands must deliver what they promise.

·         Brands must listen to what consumers are saying and use what they learn to find ways to work-out how to delight them.

·         Brands must not under estimate the power and importance of a good social media strategy.


My advice for anyone in a brand organisation with responsibility for building successful brand experiences is to pay very close attention to all the above.  

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Brands should take note of Gordon Ramsay’s success formula.

I just watched Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (on US soil). The programme story is always the same.

Ramsey arrives at a restaurant that is failing and it quickly becomes apparent why: Poor leadership, rubbish food, run-down decor and rude staff. The obvious result....very few customers.

He usually manages to turn it round by getting the owner to understand that they need to make some big changes. (To do this Ramsay uses a combination of his strong personality, a bit of charm and heavy use of the F-word.)

His formula is simple:

·         Offer good quality food at a fair price.

·         Deliver customers what you promise.

·         Delight them with great service.

It isn’t rocket science. If you can promise, deliver and delight customers they come back. They may even tell their friends about you.

More brand organisations should follow this simple formula; the trouble is they generally don’t have a Ramsey type to help them face-up to the increasingly urgent need for change.

Positive consumer experience leads to greater loyalty

This headline should be no big surprise. I think most people understand that good customer service is critical.

An article in Adweek highlights a recent Forrester report that shows just how crucial a positive customer experience can be. Forrester surveyed 4,500 US consumers and asked them about their interactions with 100+ brand-name organisations.

It found that a good experience correlates with a willingness to repurchase a product or service, a reluctance to switch and a likelihood to spread a positive word-of-mouth endorsement.

The message couldn’t be clearer.

Brands need to find ways to delight consumers with great brand experiences. It is by doing this that brands can encourage consumers down the path to advocacy.

To survive and thrive in the tough economic times we face today there is even more urgency for brands to pay attention to this key challenge.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Is Jeff Jarvis right to say ‘your customers are your ad agency?'

I have just started reading an excellent book called ‘‘What Would Google Do?’ by Jeff Jarvis.

In chapter 3 there is a section called ‘Your customers are your ad agency.’ In it Jarvis says: “Customer service is the new marketing,” citing Dell and Google as evidence of the vital role customer services plays in building a successful brand.

I think he is half right.

There is no doubt that customer service is a critical stage of the consumer path to advocacy. Delighting consumers must be the goal. However, it is not the whole story, particularly for a lot of low involvement brands (Fast moving package goods, financial, white goods, etc).

The brand promise (to get noticed and encourage trial) is a start-point for these brands.

Then there is brand delivery (at 1st and 2nd moment of truth) which also has to be brilliant [read previous posting about Apple stores and service is marketing].

If you are working in a brand organisation look for others involved in delivering brand experience and find ways to work with them to break-down silos. It is a business imperative in this new connected world to ensure all parts of the Brand Promise, Delivery and Delight (PDD framework) are joined-up.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The ultimated in-store brand experience

A store in Germany has gone to extreme measures to create a brand experience that will definitely turn senior shoppers into advocates [click to watch video].


Sunday, 15 February 2009

Starbucks coffee launch will cause a stir

I read that Starbucks are planning to start selling instant coffee at $1 a cup.

This is a game changing business move and I really hope it is successful.

The new product will create some new news and should attract new consumers into their stores who are now able to afford the coffee and who would like to sample the famous Starbucks brand experience.

However, this launch will create some major challenges.

In order to protect their margins they are going to have to minimise cannibalisation, while at the sometime significantly increase the numbers of cups (and customers) they serve per day/hour/minute.

This is going to increase queue lengths & and times spent waiting, which will mean a change in the whole brand experience.

Their in-store mission says: “....our stores become a haven, a break from the worries outside, a place where you can meet with friends....”

This launch will make this mission hard to deliver.

Starbucks are masters of brand experience so it will be interesting to see how they handle it. I will watch with interest.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Microsoft takes some control of the ‘first moment of truth’

I was interested to hear that Microsoft is planning to open its own branded stores.

A spokeswoman has said that the company is targeting "a small number of high-profile experience stores in a few major cities around the world."

They say “they want to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy,"

This is a good plan.

No doubt mindful of Apple’s retail successful this indicates to me that Microsoft recognise the power of brand experience and the benefits of taking control of brand delivery at the first moment of truth.

They will have some challenges, given a weak economy and the fact they don’t make PCs, however, they have recently been building their expertise in this space. They set-up a store-within-a-store concept in various major store groups and created "Microsoft Gurus” borrowing from Nordstrom's personal-shopper concept, to help people select specific products to suit their needs.

It is a bold move but one that I hope they can make work.

All brands should look at whether they are achieving winning brand experiences at the delivery stage of the Brand PDD framework. If they are not they should fix it as it’s a vital step on the consumers path to advocacy. 

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Marketing ROI and brand experience should be the highest prioriy

I read in Brandweek about the Forrester Research and marketing consultancy Verse Group survey of 101 heavy-hitting marketers for the CMO Priorities for 2009 study.

The findings are no surprise. Namely that the old brand-positioning models don’t work anymore.

The key priorities these marketers have is the desire to:

  • Achieve measurable ROI on marketing efforts – 50%
  • Develop integrated programs – 43%
  • Translate the brand experience across different touch points – 32%
  • Cut marketing budgets without cutting performance – 31%

In my view measurable ROI and brand experience are the most critical. I urge all marketers to get their marketing stakeholders to focus thinking and efforts on these two areas.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Mercedes find way to drive advocacy

Mercedes-Benz USA has just launched a new exclusive hotels and resorts program for existing owners. It entitles them to stay at a collection of distinct properties with exclusive benefits that include complimentary use of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, welcome gifts and room upgrades.

Lisa Holladay, manager of Mercedes-Benz brand experience marketing said: “Our new Destinations program extends that luxury experience by offering exclusive customer benefits through select, hand-picked properties that are quite extraordinary.”

This looks like a really good idea. As ever, perfect execution will be vital.

If they get it right it should be a great way to delight existing consumers.

If they get it wrong it could be a disaster.

Anyone responsible for delivering brand experience should look at this type of approach and consider how they can design approaches that delight their consumers.

It is a powerful way to drive advocacy.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Agent Provocateur courts controversy

I read in Brand Republic that Agent Provocateur is having a men-only event at which investment bankers will watch a ‘presentation’ from lingerie models over drinks and canap├ęs.

Sounds good to me.

I doubt this event is about creating a brand experience and making money.
It looks to me like a clever stunt [I resisted the urge to suggest it was cunning] that is designed to create a bit of a PR stir.

It’s happening the week of Valentine’s Day and the guests are rich bankers (who are possibly benefactors of elicit bonuses).

Attractive models. ... greedy bankers.... Valentine’s Day....

This is clearly about creating some controversy.
It's right on brand and I guess it will delight some bankers.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

On-line retailers should consider how to add some magic to the consumer buying experience

I bought a new laptop from this week. The experience was okay but it could have been so much better.

I went through a typical computer buying process. (I asked a friend, searched on-line, went into a couple of stores, and then eventfully bought on-line.)

So, how did I feel about the final on-line buying experience?

To be honest I felt pretty ambivalent.

The on-line transaction process was easy (which it often isn’t). The laptop arrived when promised. It works. I have a free support number I can call for one week.

Is ‘feeling ambivalent’ a good result for

I don’t think so.

They really missed a trick. They could easily have telephoned me to ask whether the laptop had arrived and whether I was happy with it. It would not have been hard to organise given they have my mobile number and they would have known that I’d received it (through the parcel tracking system).

I would have been delighted.

It would have delivered the kind of brand experience that would have made me a fan and possibly even an advocate.

A good delivery service is clearly important. However, my suggestion for all organisations is to think about the brand experience from a consumer point of view and work-out how to incorporate ways to delight after the delivery. Use the PDD framework to help. It often does not require much time & effort and the ROI pay-back - as a result of having more fans and advocates - can be huge.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Retailers have to focus on customer service in these challenging times

CNN Money has just published on article with some excellent advice for retailers that are struggling with consumers who are currently wary of spending.

They quote various experts who say that to survive in 2009 retailers have to aggressively court reluctant consumers with exciting products, prices, and service.

The main tips are to focus on the basics:

· Don’t neglect customer service.
· Have the right number of staff at the right time.
· Avoid discount mania.
· Find ways to add value beyond price.

This is not complicated.

Deliver brand experiences that entertain to turn potential shoppers into buyers. Deliver brand experiences that excite to encourage consumers to buy again. Deliver brand experiences that delight to turn shoppers into advocates.

Retailers should focus on planning their brand experience strategy with care. This has to include making sure that their front-line teams are trained to deliver a great brand experience consistently and enthusiastically.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Why aren't on-line retailers closing the sale?

I read in Mark Lowe’s blog (Google UK Country Manager) that around 65% of on-line shopping baskets are abandoned at the check-out.

This is a shocking number.

Bricks and mortar retailers worked out long ago that in order to keep customers loyal it is essential to deliver a great brand experience in store. A key part of this experience happens at the check-out. I think it was Tesco that once did a campaign saying they would not permit queues of more than 3 people - and then, presumably at vast expense, changed their operation and retrained staff to ensure this promise was delivered.

Why don’t on-line retailers sort it out? They must be looking at the conversion data. They must be calculating the impact on their bottom lines. The cost to fix shouldn’t be huge? The ROI isn’t complicated.

Think about Amazon. They know the importance of the transaction phase to help achieve a seamless (and profitable) brand experience. They understand that when you make a brand promise, deliver it and then find ways to delight consumers, consumers are likely to buy again and may be even become an advocate.

I can see why Mark is frustrated and calling out for change.

If your on-line conversions are disappointing I strongly recommend that your organisation (both large and small):
  • Read Mark’s tip.

  • Get the right people to collaborate to work out a fix.

  • Review whether people have the right KPIs, as conversions should not just be the responsibility of the ecommerce department but everyone with responsibility for brand experience management.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Social media: Marketers and their partners need to do it to ‘get it’

A recent article in the FT quoted the following from the Social Media Futures report that’s just been published:

“Two-thirds of advertising agencies are not prepared for the industry changes prompted by social networks and new forms of digital media.”

Are you prepared?

The dynamic growth of social media is well documented and understood.

What is not so easy to work out is how to design strategies that deliver the right kind of brand experiences using social media space.

My advice is to get on-line and make time to play with Facebook, blogs, Delicious, Twitter etc.

Be curious: Watch, listen, learn, do it, work at it…

If you aren’t doing it how can you understand it, come up with or judge ideas, or plan it?