Monday, June 23, 2008

Marketers must take holistic view at the brand experience

Differentiation is becoming harder every year with products and services commoditizing, consumers zapping away the ads, and an economic downturn reducing marketing budgets by an average 3%.

Smart marketers respond by taking a holistic view at the total brand experience. Apple, for instance, took the portable music market by storm by offering an exclusive service -- iTunes -- in combination with its MP3 player. Verizon improved its Web site with interaction optimization tools and raised its conversion rates by 36%. What are other marketers doing to differentiate their customer experience?

Take a business-driven approach.

Where is the money in improving the experience? Recent research from Forrester shows that good customer experience correlates highly to loyalty -- especially when it comes to consumers' plans for making additional purchases. Marketers in any industry can justify their customer experience investments with the savings they generate in client acquisition and the additional revenues from upselling and cross-selling.

Develop online communities.

As ever more consumers become active in social networks like Facebook, marketers have started to develop branded communities to engage with clients and non-clients. A successful community is not a fortunate accident but the result of careful strategic planning, an orchestrated launch involving the firm's brand advocates, and ongoing interaction with the community members by a dedicated social media team.

Turn employees into brand advocates.

Bad service is the No. 1 reason why consumers switch brands. To motivate and empower frontline staff to live and breathe the brand values, marketers develop employee brand advocacy programs improving their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Restaurant chain Garden Fresh, for instance, has empowered its staff to make any on-the-spot decision to improve client satisfaction. As a result, the number of loyal clients has been increasing by almost 50% each year since the program launched.

No comments: