Not too long ago, clients didn’t care much about brand. Buyers were objective: they examined the value of an item or company based on strict measures of monetary value and intrinsic worth or self benefit. With a market more diluted with competition than ever before, however, customers rely on secondary, subjective phenomena for a large basis of their judgments and decision making process when it comes to buying. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, a customer’s impression of a company and subsequent decision to buy or not to buy is derived initially (and ultimately) through a temporal analysis of the company’s brand, reputation and vibe. The bad news is that companies are less able to rely on material functions and objective production than they were before. The good news is that for companies who embrace this change, they can use it to their advantage. Here are a few things to keep in mind for branding in 2016.
1. Trust is everything
If a customer doesn’t trust you, they won’t buy from you. Before trying to convince a customer to purchase a product from you, it is critical that they believe in your brand and trust you. If a customer loves your product but doesn’t trust the integrity of your company, then they will go with someone else. Integrity and transparency are far more important when it comes to building long-term relationships with customers.
2. Credibility matters
Customers have access to a plethora of information at their fingertips. By going online, you can easily find third party reviews and customer reviews of your company and products. Thus, the power of brand marketing is no longer as strong as it once was because it is fighting for attention amongst other third party views. If you want your brand to be strong, it is important that the brand portrayed by your customers is strong as well. Customers trust each other more than they trust you. Customers have come to recognize that many companies will do and say anything they have to in order to elevate their brand. An unbiased customer review, on the other hand, holds a lot more credibility than any statement from your company will.
3. First impressions are key
Once you make a first impression, it is really hard to shake it off. Your first impression with a customer–whether it is an advertisement, an experience in store, or a trial with a product–must reflect your brand and best intentions. Try as you might, replacing a first impression is very hard. Thus, your brand should be reflected in everything you do, and everything your company portrays externally.
4. Social good has a positive affect
If customers see that you are giving to charity or otherwise engaging in philanthropic efforts, they will feel more comfortable giving you money. Moreover, social good brands your company as being caring and compassionate. If customers view you as altruistic, they are more likely to trust and have faith in you. It is much easier to justify a high price if you state that a portion of the proceeds will go to a charity.
5. Do what you say you will do
Keeping promises doesn’t mean following through with what you say–it means only saying things that you know you can do. You should never have to worry about keeping a promise, because the promises you make in the first place should be assertions of fact based on what you know you will accomplish. In other words, your promise isn’t a way of saying, “I know I will try my hardest to do this;” it’s saying, “I have factual information that necessitates that this statement will hold true.” Never make a promise that you might not be able to keep, because that’s not a promise. In fact, if you make a promise and it’s not kept, then the initial promise you made was a lie; you lied about being able to make a guarantee. Thus, to uphold your brand, make sure to stay humble and transparent and always be on your customer’s side. Know your capabilities, know your incapabilities, and be willing to share both equally and openly with your customers.
6. Customer support is crucial
Once you have sold the customer, don’t just walk away from the deal. The support you give to customers post-sale shows your true character as a company. Customer support also bodes very well for gaining new referral business. Growth happens organically when it happens best; thus, referrals are essential.
via AJ Agrawal at Forbes