Your brand — no matter what it is and to whom you sell — has many layers of subtle and not-so-subtle interactions with your customers, prospects and influencers. Identifying each and every one of those brand touch points is the first step in making your customers fanatics, your prospects lifelong customers, and your influencers brand ambassadors. It’s a worthy investment of time and resources.
Where to start? Much of the process is common sense.
First, recognize that you likely have three different kinds of brand audiences, and your interactions with each may vary:
- Influencers (a more encompassing group of people who can somehow weigh in on the relative benefits, value, features, and overall purchase-worthiness of your brand. They include everyone from internal employees to outside sales reps, retailers, the press, existing or previous customers, bloggers and reviewers, social media engagements, and many others.)
Second, recognize there are at least three stages to lifecycle engagement with your brand, and each one contains different levels of brand interaction:
- Pre-Purchase stage where prospects seek any and all evaluative information available. Consider all interactions that build awareness, convey your brand story and differentiation, create a brand connection, build a brand reputation, and ultimately drive purchase consideration. Brand audiences here are prospects, influencers, and even existing customers (repeat sales/upselling). Think about interactions and messaging that you directly control, and those you don’t. Think broadly, and think specifically.
- Purchase stage where prospects become customers and seek validation. Consider all transactional and communications interactions from order placement through delivery and set up. Brand audiences here are prospects and new customers.
- Post-Purchase stage where customers have used the brand and seek validation for a potential repeat engagement. Consider all follow-up activities and programs here, including loyalty programs, warranty performance, product quality, etc. Brand audiences here are customers and influencers.
Finally, recognize that brand interactions occur company-wide, so consider all the various operating departments and functions within your organization, and the types of direct and indirect brand interactions conducted within each. Finance (billing, credit terms, etc.), customer service (warranty service, trouble shooting, etc.), R&D (product trials, market input, etc.), marketing (obviously), and most likely many others — you get the drift.
Now, (take a deep breath here), map out your complete brand marketing process — from initial product development through post-sale engagement. Think through every known actual and potential point of contact while keeping in mind the different brand audiences, the different purchase stages, and the different operating functions within the organization. Identify everything, from emails to phone calls to website, to packaging, to user documentation, advertising, etc. Solicit the assistance of the various departments within the organization.
Next, with the internal audit completed, it’s time to conduct external research to probe customers, prospects and influencers about the buying/using/re-purchasing processes with which they engage the brand on their own terms. The goal here is to completely define the myriad of interactions that make up the brand relationship and their relative role in creating customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
With the internal and external audits complete, you now should have a pretty clear picture of the various brand touch points. Developing a plan to purposely administer these in alignment with your brand identity will help you to become more successful at moving prospects to customers, and customers to lifelong fanatics. Yipee! And, we here at 34 North can help. Yipee again!