Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Personal Brand Messaging

Branding involves creating, maintaining, and enhancing the awareness of your product or service. In establishing the credibility and awareness of your brand, third-party endorsements have a tremendous effect. Individual branding is different from business branding in that it requires a continued positive attitude and even stronger relationship building. Unlike business branding, which recommends posting a social ad or banner on a webpage, billboard, or in print collateral, personal branding requires networking— and lots of it. Networking can be done via social networks, local group meetings, and events. In addition, during these networking sessions, the individual needs to be likable and must present good character, knowledge, and a pleasant appearance.

Attitudes toward the message of your brand have an impact on the customer’s purchase and behavioral intentions. To promote your brand, you could invest in advertising, which is a more general means of communication for promoting your brand. Marketing-oriented publicity elicits either positive or negative cognitive responses in customers. A positive cognitive response enhances the brand messaging which has an impact on the customer’s purchasing decision. A negative attitude and cognitive response toward brand messaging reduce the likelihood of a customer making a purchase.

A perfect example of marketing based on customer brand attitude and the use of endorsements is the Beats headphone brand. The brand was introduced without a large budget and focused on building credibility through celebrity endorsements and word-of-mouth. As customers accepted the credibility as positive, they spread the word about the product as being a commodity to those interested in owning the popular brand. With the help of social promotions, celebrity credibility, industry targeted publicity, and brand messaging the brand has developed into a multi-billion dollar company.

Be a Partner

Emotional Connection. Customers want to do business with businesses they like. It’s that simple. While we shouldn’t have to emphasize this fact, we sometimes forget that emotions often drive our purchasing decisions, not logic. When sending marketing material to customers, you have to first develop rapport with those customers, or else your marketing will simply become another “to review” item on customers’ lists. Start with a call or a coffee meeting. Find commonalities. Listen to the customer’s challenges. Show them appreciation and gain their trust. Then, send the marketing material with a personal note and a reminder of some shared moment.

Be a Partner. The customer doesn’t always know best – even if they think they do. If you truly want to be a partner (not simply an order taker), you need to understand if what the customer wants will get them the results they need. These are obviously two very different things. As a partner, you need to challenge the customer by letting them know when there are better products or more efficient and effective ways to be productive. This is also how your business can stand out in competitive situations.

In marketing, if the potential customer wants SEO and social media services, and you simply send marketing outlining why you are the best agency for providing SEO and social media, your marketing material will be similar to every other business’s marketing – except for that one agency that considers why the customer believes they need SEO and social media and what actually makes sense for the customer’s goal, budget, and timeline. You can stand out by taking this different approach through questioning your customers’ actual needs and goals which would allow you to offer them the optimal product or service solution for their needs.

Attracting the right customer

Many businesses that I have consulted for boasted about their low prices but hated the fact that customers would only purchase products on discount. Those businesses failed to sell products at a profitable margin and often could not afford other expenses including employees, marketing, and general operating costs. It’s great when your customers love your low prices, but if your customers are the only ones winning, then that is not good for your business.

Most customers – the ones you want – will view your product or service as an investment. They likely will not see your prices as an issue considering they desire other conveniences of your business, which may include your location, quality, reputation, etc. That’s a very different mindset from that of customers who simply want to buy a product at the lowest cost possible. However, it is your responsibility to market your overall value as the focus of your business and not just your prices.

Qualifying The Customer. I’ve seen it often; an employee talks with a potential customer and the customer seems (or acts) interested. After that meeting, the employee is confident about what the customer wants and offers the customer pretty much everything that the company sells, backtracking from pricing individual services to a grand total number.

The problem? The potential customer has never purchased from the business and has no plans to make a purchase until the end of the year. In addition, his budget is way below what the employee proposed. Immediately, the customer disregards the business as an option, both now and when his budget increases by 50% the following year.

Sometimes, a customer will never be the right fit. And sometimes it just isn’t the right time. Don’t ruin your chances by not understanding your customers’ current and future needs – including their financial constraints. In addition to understanding your customers’ objectives and the current state of your marketing outreach, you should also define the following:

  • What are the customer’s goals?
  • What does success for the overall company look like?
  • What is the timeframe for achieving those goals?
  • Are there separate long-term and short-term goals?
  • What specific metrics will define success?
  • What challenge is the customer currently facing?
  • What value does the customer see in the services you provide?

Quality Relationships

A periodic marketing and customer audit are required if you want to enhance the quality of services and products that your business offers to its customers. Delivering top quality services to customers is considered the most effective way to ensure that your business stands out from its competitors. The main ingredients that are involved in a quality relationship between your customer and your business are trust and commitment.

Trust. Trust refers to confidence and security in relationships and should be treated as the biggest investment in building long term relationships. As a result of understanding and addressing your customers’ needs, any doubts of whether or not your business respects them, and is sincere, are relieved and demonstrates that you are a reliable partner. A lack of trust, on the other hand, weakens the relationship, and as a result, the likelihood of uncertainty and disloyalty increases.

Commitment. Commitment is yet another milestone that should be achieved to create a long-term relationship. Commitment can only be attained when there is trust and the two parties share similar values. In a committed relationship, both your business and the customer wants the relationship to last considering the time and energy needed to switch to another business or market toward new customers.

Other attributes that promote a high-quality relationship include the following:

Courtesy. Many times, your customers may not be satisfied with your business or with the product or service that you offer. It is essential that you provide your customers with quality customer service during these times. Delivering positive and courteous responses act as a catalyst in driving customer satisfaction.

Availability. Most customers prefer human responses compared to automated emails or messages. Hence, it is important for your business to be available to customers with queries and needs. Being available also promotes emotional bonding between customers and your business which is beneficial for establishing and building a profitable business.

Responsiveness. Your business should always have prompt, responsive, and experienced employees serving your customers. If a potential customer calls and asks about some critical product feature and your employee fails to properly explain it or is non-responsive, the customer would likely contact a different business who will provide them with the answers to their questions.

Current. Always remain current with, and ahead of, your industry and changes in your market. Strategies, services, and products often advance or deteriorate with time due to competition and the higher cost of innovation. Consequently, your business should remain current and relevant to your customers and potential customers.

Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

Most businesses believe that a satisfied customer is also a loyal customer. That is not always the case, as your customer can be satisfied and not loyal to your business. Satisfaction is an emotion while loyalty is related to a future action taken by the customer.

Building satisfied and loyal customers require:

  • Keeping customers engaged in the salesprocess
  • Educating customers on why they should choose you over your competition
  • Knowing the unique needs of your customers and satisfying those needs

Not every customer is destined to be a life-long customer— but if you follow the tactics above, both you and your customer will be set up for a happy and productive relationship.

Understanding your customer loyalty level.

  • Satisfied but disloyal customers: A customer can be fully satisfied but may not be loyal due to following reasons:
    • Experimental Customer. These types of customers like to experiment and enjoy the option of diverging in other available businesses in the market.
    • Price Shopper. These customers are happy with your product or service but will only use your service until they are comfortable in duplicating your results at a lower price.
    • Business Growth. These customers may feel that your methods or product and services are outdated, and will go to a different business that markets having and using the latest trends and technology to grow with the customer’s goals.
  • Unsatisfied but loyal customers: The other situation is when the customer is loyal but is unsatisfied. The reasons for this are:
    • Lack of available options: This situation can arise if your business does not offer products or services offered by competitors or when your business offers an inferior service.
    • Emotionally connected: There are some customers who are afraid to change their supplier because of an emotional business attachment or bonding. The customer may feel that it would be best to try and fix an unsatisfied situation rather than start new.

For your business to be successful, it is important for you to gain customer loyalty. While satisfaction may not guarantee loyalty, it is a prerequisite.

Customer Satisfaction

According to a study of 362 marketing agencies, 95% of the agencies believed they placed a priority on the needs of their customers. Additionally, 80% believed they delivered a superior customer experience. While businesses may believe they place a priority on customer services, the same study found that only 8% of customers agreed that these businesses prioritized customer service.[1]

The relationship between businesses and customers are often one-sided. Where businesses may only see customers as numbers, customers want to be seen as individuals. Creating genuine customer experiences are about providing a unique value, surpassing expectations, engaging customers, and remaining honest.

Successful businesses find ways to satisfy and build customer relationships, as they should. Customers are spending their money to partner and invest with your business. They are your brand ambassadors who will promote your business to their friends and family. You should make it a priority to satisfy their needs and concerns. You can help your business get ahead if you can master the art of customer relationships and build loyal followers.

 

[1] “Tuning In to the Voice of Your Customer,” Harvard Management Update, Vol. 10, No. 10, October 2005.

Types of Customers

Customers play a significant role in the success or failure of your business. In fact, the customer is the actual boss in all dealings and responsible for profits generated for your business. The customer is the one who uses the products and services and judges the quality of those products and services. Hence, it’s important for your business to prioritize and retain former customers as well as continually gain new customers to sustain and grow the business. A strategy to gain new customers includes segmenting your current customers into groups which will help determine how to satisfy and attract your desired customer group.

Your segmenting strategy should also take into account:

  • Age group of the customers
  • Geographical location
  • Lifestyle of customers
  • Social status of customers

Targeting the Right Customers

All customers fall within select groups, and it is your responsibility to know which group that is. It is also essential to know if you are reaching your desired targeted group(s). For example, funky designs and loud colors would be a hit among teenagers, whereas middle aged and the elderly would prefer subtle colors and sophisticated designs. Suits and khakis are extremely popular amongst men, whereas females prefer blazers and blouses. Know your target groups and plan accordingly.

Customers are often of the following types:

Loyal Customers. These customers may be less in number but promote higher sales and profit as compared to other customers. These customers are generally satisfied with your product or service and desire consistency and reliability. Loyal customers often require individual attention and rewards that demand quality customer service.

Discount Customers. Discount customers are also frequent visitors but they usually only make purchases when offered discounts on regular products and brands or buy only low-cost products. The greater the discount, the more likely this customer is to purchase.

Impulsive Customers. These customers are difficult to market to as they don’t have any specific item on their purchase list. Handling these customers is a challenge as they don’t look for particular products and are attracted to businesses that have many options to choose from with products and prices on display.

Wandering Customers. These customers are likely to generate the least profit as they are not sure of what they want to purchase or if they want to purchase. Additionally, these customers don’t usually have the finances available to make a purchase but may purchase at a later date dependent on whether they are still interested and have not found a better value elsewhere.

As you can see in the explanations above, loyal and repeat customers are ideal for most businesses. Nonetheless, it is necessary for you to study the behaviors of customers in your chosen demographic before connecting with them as it will help you to identify specific customer needs and respond accordingly. By identifying the behaviors of customers, you can easily create targeted strategies to attract and satisfy their wants and needs.

Marketing Audit

Based on questionnaires obtained by the opinions of marketing experts, it has been determined that marketing audits are a paramount factor in business success.[1] A marketing audit can be an important tool in discovering potential risks within your business’s activities. Within the marketing industry, understanding how or why to market to a certain demographic is a key component to creating a successful marketing plan. To conduct an effective marketing audit, the method should have four major characteristics which include it being comprehensive regarding function, environment, and productivity; independent from decision-making managers; completed using a structured, systematic approach; and that it should be carried out on a periodic basis. A marketing audit can improve your marketing management and business problems by helping to assess and evaluate your business’s marketing ability, strategies, performance and effectiveness, problematic areas, and opportunities.

Having the ability to find and understand your customer, competitor, and product potential will make the process of marketing your product or service much easier. A problem often found in businesses is that they don’t develop marketing strategies or perform preemptive audits. These businesses come to realize, in the middle of their marketing efforts, that they have no real plan or a way to monitor the effects of their marketing campaigns. Having a plan of action serves to pace and organize your marketing efforts. Regular audits can help you identify business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks specific to your industry and market. Furthermore, marketing audits can be used to direct the vision of your business, the value of products offered, and the effectiveness of current, previous, and future marketing efforts and organizational efficiencies. A good marketing audit should also assist with the implementation of a marketing strategy, and help in generating brand awareness and sales.

 

[1] Lipnická D., Ďaďo J. (2013). Marketing Audit and Factors Influencing Its Use in Practice of Companies (From an Expert Point of View). Journal of Competitiveness, 5 (4), 26-42. doi: 10.7441/joc.2013.04.02

Quick and Easy Marketing Methods

Newsletters should be branded if you intend to share company news and not get lost amongst the spam. Temper the marketing tone of your messages by integrating stories about your staff and customers.

Transactional emails are emails that directly promote products, promotions, and include emails sent to confirm an order or new account sign-up. Keep these emails succinct, but write with flair.

Videos are a great way to bring your brand to life. They are the perfect vehicle to introduce your products and services. Be sure to keep them short and snappy, perfect for social media sharing.

Business cards are pocket-sized promotional opportunities. Make sure they include relevant details like your social media handles and links to your website. Loyalty cards are also good for encouraging return visits to your store and should reflect your brand. Postcards are a fun way to raise brand awareness. Whether you choose to mail them, add them to your packaging, or distribute them at local businesses, they must be attractive if you want customers to view and keep them.

Most agencies know how to leverage their own email marketing skills to attract and nurture new business. However, they often overlook email as a communication channel post-sale. Email can be used to entice your customers in a scalable way as it provides the means necessary to continuously deliver added value over the course of your relationship. While many would argue that no one is looking forward to more emails, your emails should be relevant and thoughtfully written to ensure you don’t add to the SPAM issue.

Backlinking

To help build the authority and rank of your website, you should establish quality backlinks on niche websites, and not just broad or directory websites. By including links on sites relevant to your own, you will positively help your website ranking and attract new customers. In addition to niche websites, your backlinks should include sites with a high page rank. Link building strategies can easily come from participating in blogs, online forums, and local event groups. When placing a backlink on these sites, you should utilize unique keywords and descriptive anchor text. Another option to find credible backlinks is to search your competitors’ link groupings. A link grouping is a page on the internet from which all, or most, of your competitors get incoming links. By searching your targeted keywords, common backlinks of your competitors can be located. Once these backlinks are identified, you should visit and include your website link on these websites if possible. If these websites are a relevant niche to your business, it should produce favorable results.

Relationship Marketing

Strong customer relationships are essential for your business if you desire to increase sales and generate a positive brand reputation. Customers frequently recognize their relationships with businesses similar to personal connections. In analyzing whether customers looking for relationships with businesses actually desired a genuine personal relationship with the business, it was found that a majority of business-to-customer (B2C) relationships were inauthentic when contrasted with genuine person-to-person relationships.[1]

The foundation of relationship marketing includes four essential elements of relationships that include commitment, trust, comprehension, and quality. In an examination of 306 online surveys, researchers confirmed that each of the four elements of relationships influenced customer loyalty. Nevertheless, the customer’s perception and comprehension of quality and value influenced the relationship and purchase intentions. [2]

As a business, you need to identify your target customers by analyzing their lifestyles, psychographics, income, spending capabilities, and mentalities so that you may offer them relevant products and services. For example, knowing that individuals from lower income groups would never be interested in, or have the means to buy, expensive and luxurious products is beneficial in that it allows your business to focus its attention on the likely buyers of your product or service. Trying to sell a Mercedes or a luxury watch to someone who finds it difficult to make ends meet would definitely be a disastrous marketing technique.

 

[1] Bettencourt, L. A., Blocker, C. P., Houston, M. B., & Flint, D. J. (2015). Rethinking customer relationships. Business Horizons, 58, 99-108. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2014.09.003

[2] Jussila, J. J., Kärkkäinen, H., & Aramo-Immonen, H. (2014). Social media utilization in business-to-business relationships of technology industry firms. Computers in Human Behavior, 30, 606-613. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.07.047

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