This essay accompanied a presentation I gave to a group of business owners. It applies to nonprofits as well. The connection between brand, value, loyalty and support is the foundation of any relationship.
Marketing is filled with overused buzz words and vague phrases that don’t communicate anything meaningful. Marketing itself means different things to different people. Brand is another term which for some means a logo, font and color swatches.
Brand equals value. If someone values your company, there’s a reason. That reason is the core of your brand. All communications should flow from that core value. Logos, fonts and color swatches are the last elements in the hierarchy of importance.
Value development is the process of nurturing your real core value. Not the quality you think you deliver, but the quality your prospects find essential in making a decision. Hint: It’s probably not as obvious as you think. It isn’t price alone. If it doesn’t distinguish you from the others, why should a prospect prefer your brand over another?
Value communication reinforces value perception through everything your organization does. Everything! First point of contact is critical, whether it’s face-to-face or virtual. Every subsequent point of contact is critical, whether it’s the checkout process on your site, legibility of your invoice, or the sincerity of your customer service.
Here’s an example. Five competitors offer the same basic product at five different price points. Yours is the highest price. Your organization offers a unique purchasing experience with sincerity projected through your employees and all communications. You won’t win the bargain hunters. You won’t win the middle of the roaders who feel safest with average cost and service. But, you will win buyers who value the experience you offer. And they are willing to pay extra for that emotional boost.
We work in a connected world. No connection is more important than the link between the value you promise and the value you deliver. Here’s a word of caution: Getting it right is not a one-time exercise. Your customers are connected too. Thanks to social media and big data, your value proposition is constantly under scrutiny by customers and competitors.
Value is dynamic. It demands continual review, evaluation and improvement. Buyer expectations from yesterday’s transaction may be different tomorrow.
Action follows perception. If perceived value is more clearly communicated by your competitor, the buyer responds accordingly. Customer loyalty is not dead. But, customers are smarter than ever before.
Like any relationship worth pursuing, customers require ongoing attention. Don’t wait for them to ask “Do you love me?” That emotional fulfillment has to be communicated proactively. Seek out every clue to learn what they want, what they need and what they value most.
New customer acquisition cost is much higher than return customers. If your relationships aren’t growing, neither are your profits. That converts to fewer perks for employees and less attention to customers. And that brings us back to brand value.
A sustainable business model is constantly looking for new opportunities to add value, build relationships and deliver more than expected. That investment is rewarded with customer loyalty.