By Libby Gill
To create a compelling brand, you have to capture more than just the market share, you capture the total mindshare – that is, minds, hearts, soul and the hence the unimpeachable trust of your customers. That is what leads to brand loyalty.
Your brand is more than just what people say or think. It is their deep, unassailable feeling that you provide them with extraordinary value that cannot be acquired any other way. Communicated across a multitude of platforms, people become almost religious in their devotion and the belief that you can and will consistently deliver and over-deliver what they need.
Based on years of research and experience, I’ve uncovered seven critical elements, each of which is necessary for the creation of the powerful company-client relationships that produce unparalleled customer loyalty and the resulting economic success that successful brands command. Here they are:
- Clarify Customer Benefits: Focus on your customer benefits, not just your products or services. Use clear and compelling language and lead with your customers’ best interests, not your pedigree or technical specs.
- Commit to Your Customer: Clarify your commitment to value and for customer success. Keep the big picture top-of-mind, but don’t forget that each and every touch point has a significant impact on loyalty. Make every contact count. Enhance the value that you deliver every way you possibly can.
- Collaborate with Your Customer: Pass information to the customer. Ask the customer questions, learn about what they need, and pass that information both up and down the pipeline so that others in your organization can help the client and thus help them make timely decisions. Share facts, data, solutions, as well as contacts, relationships, and social and even emotional intelligence.
- Connect with Your Customer: Plan, design and execute communications strategically along every connective touch-point that you can identify. Study your communications interface with each and every prospect or client and identify these touch points specifically, including any web sites, request forms, email systems, phone systems, voice mail and other automated response technology, newsletters, text messages, faxes, in-person meetings, presentations, white papers, etc. Review and redesign each and every touch point so that your communications content and style packs real value and builds a relationship with your prospect and leads them to want more of what you offer.
- Compete with Your Competition: Be upfront and recognize, analyze, explain, distinguish and actively outperform your competition. Go beyond the obvious, direct competition – that is, the companies offering products and services that fill a similar need as yours. Identify and address the less visible, indirect competition. Pay close attention to new technologies, and upstart challengers seeking to pounce on your marketplace, and slip in under the radar of the established players in your area.
- Communicate with Confidence and Certainty: Get up, get out of your chair, get moving! The maximum competitive advantage almost always goes to the people who are extroverted, confident, assertive, even aggressive, in the workplace. Practice, practice and practice some more, so that you can readily communicate with confidence, even if you feel outside you comfort zone. Be prepared and come to meetings armed with critical data and information, industry updates, news headlines, and even sports scores so you can participate effectively. Sit in the front, dress appropriately, act as though you are worthy of the attention (without being obnoxious). Take command and stay in control.
- Contribute to the Community: Get involved in the community and actively support social causes. Encourage and even reward your employers to do more to support charitable activities. Choose one or more charities that complement and fit with your brand. Contribute substantially and meaningfully with money, time and people. Donate your products, pro-bono services, or other institutional or technological capabilities. Engage your management, staff, and employees actively and frequently and genuinely support the goals and objectives of the charitable organization.
An internationally recognized executive coach and branding expert with over 20 years of industry experience, Libby Gill is the former head of communications and public relations for Sony, Universal, and Turner Broadcasting. She is known as the “branding brain” behind the launch of the Dr. Phil Show. Her clients include ABC-Disney, Nike, PayPal, Warner Brothers and Wells Fargo. Her latest book is Capture the Mindshare and the Market Share Will Follow: The Art and Science of Building Brands (Palgrave MacMillan).