Engage Customers to Create Brand Equity

BRAND eQUITY

Engagement means creating involvement. Customer engagement means the effort taken by the brand to develop an involvement between customers and the brand beyond regular purchase and use.

Traditional marketing practices seldom encourage active involvement of customers. The marketers often are satisfied with the regular purchase of the product by the customers and the level of engagement with the customers is limited to handling queries, handling complaints and loyalty programs.

The new economy has necessitated marketers to think beyond the typical purchase/sales orientation to a more pro-active customer engagement orientation. The web 2.0 and the rising popularity of social media have created a new cost effective platform for marketers to build and maintain customer engagement programs.

Take the example of ZooZoo- the characters created by Vodafone to promote its Value Added Services. With in a short span of time, ZooZoo was all over the social media and the Facebook fan count reached 2, 75000 at the time this article is being written. Using ZooZoo, Vodafone has created a new way of connecting and engaging with the target audience.

Create a culture of engagement.

It is not easy to create effective customer engagement. The first and foremost requirement for effective customer engagement is to orient the company culture towards a customer orientation. Customers can be demanding and more so when the company takes an initiative to reach out. Hence marketers should venture into creating active engagement only after the entire firm develops an orientation towards customers.

Make it easier for customers to connect.

An important requisite for active customer engagement is to make the process easier for consumers to reach the company. Active consumer engagement cannot work effectively in an outsourced environment. Hence the marketing department should be able to create and sustain a robust mechanism to respond to the consumers.

The web has made it easier for marketers to keep tab on consumers’ demands. But in a country like India, one should account for millions of consumers who cannot access such a channel. While creating such engagement channels, the brand has to create a robust process to ensure that it responds to the consumer immediately. An unanswered query or a complaint can create negativity and can be detrimental to the brand’s equity.

Have a vision

Brand managers should have a clear vision about the outcome and purpose of customer engagement. The critical question is “what is the expected outcome of this engagement?”

The outcomes of a customer engagement program need not be based on purchase or sales. There can be qualitative objectives also for such an engagement. How ever brands will reap the benefits of loyalty and repeat purchases from the consumers who are actively engaged with it.

When the consumers are actively engaged with the brand, one need not search too far for new product ideas. Highly involved consumers will be a vital information source for obtaining feedback and product improvement ideas.

Move to a higher ladder.

Once the platform is identified and target audience chosen, the brand should have something to say to the consumer. The brand can engage the customer in many ways. Typically during engagement, brands will assume the role of an expert offering advice to consumers on problems. The task for the marketer is to find the areas in which the brand should engage with its consumers. For example, through Gang of Girls website, Sunsilk is providing tips and advice on hair care which is the subject where the brand is an expert. The advantage of such an engagement is that the brand has more control over the conversation.

While identifying the area of engagement, the brand should be able to ladder up to a more abstract need rather than restricting itself into a category need. This will appeal to a larger audience and thus take the brand’s reach farther. Tata Tea created a highly successful engagement based on the theme “ Jagore “ inspiring many youths to register themselves as voters in the recent general elections. But the challenge for the brand is to take this engagement further since the elections are over.

Another way of engagement is where the brand provides a platform through which the consumers engage with each other. The brand acts as a facilitator rather than the expert. Consumer driven brand communities are the results of such an engagement. These engagements are more powerful than the brand driven engagements because the underlying cause for such engagements arises out of passion rather than profit.

It is all about action

Successful engagement arises out of action. Brands venturing into creating customer engagement must devise ways to create and maintain a higher energy level among the consumers. The engagement plan should have activities, contests, debates, meet ups, webinars, sharing, exchanges, tweets etc to keep up the energy level. This means that there is going to be a substantial investment on the part of the brand to keep the momentum going. The investment is more on the human side rather than monetary investment. Technology has enabled companies to keep these engagement costs minimal. But there has to be a dedicated team who will keep the activity levels high so that there is never a dull moment.

TAO OF WARREN BUFFET #5.

Every person should read this wisdom’s of Warren Buffet , It may be related to his business of buying & selling companies ,but the morals can be taken & used in our personal & professional life’s also, there are total 125 Wisdom’s ,I am writing 1 every other day.

Competitive-advantage
Competitive-advantage

The great personal fortunes in this country werent built on a portfolio of fifty companies.they were built by someone who identified one wonderful business.If you do a survey of the superrich families in America,you will find that almost without exception their fortunes were built on one exceptional business,The Hearst family made their money in Publishing,The Walton family in Retailing,the Wrigley family in chewing gum, The ,Mars family in Candy, The Gates family in Software’s,and The Coors and Butch family in Brewing. The list goes on and on,  and almost without exception,anytime they strayed from that wonderful business that made them so amazingly rich,they ended up being rich, they ended up losing money- as when CocaCola got into the movie business.

The key to Warren sucess is that he has been able to identify exactly what the economic characteristics of a wonderful business are- a business that has a durable competitive advantage that owns a piece of the customers mind.when you think of Gum you think of Wrigley,when think of a Discount Store you think of Walmart. And when you think of Cold beers you think of Coors or Budweiser.this elevated position creates their economic power.warren has learned that sometimes the shortsighted nature of the stock market grossly undervalues these wonderful business,and when it does he steps up to the plate and buys as many shares as he can.warrens company ,Berkshire Hathway,is a collection of some of the finest business in America,all of which are super profitable and were bought when wallstreet was ignoring them.

Foundation of Customer Focus.

Customer_focus
Customer_focus

The Four Pillars of Customer Focus

Originally Published Here at Adclubbombay.com

Customer focus is one of the most used jargons in the marketing lexicon. Despite being accepted as an important strategy, many firms have not yet been capable of delivering exceptional customer service and focus in their operations.

Customer focus is a choice and the choice has to be made at the highest management level. Being customer focused is an expensive proposition. It is resource intensive and needs hands-on management from senior leadership of the company. More than money, customer focused strategy depend on human resource. The investment needed for maintaining customer focus is the time and dedication of all management levels towards the goal of service excellence. Most of the firms which aspire to be customer focused fail because of the lack of involvement of top management in customer-related activities.

Most companies invest their resources in creating processes and automating customer touch points. After this investment, the management leaves the customer management to these insensitive machines and algorithms. The entire process will be a waste unless there is a human element in it.

For any organisation who aspire to be customer-centric should start by building a strong foundation .Without a strong foundation, customer centric activities will lack in their effectiveness.

Customer knowledge, Culture, Human Resources and Conflict resolution are the four pillars of a customer focused organisational strategy.

Customer Knowledge

Customer profiling is the first step towards building customer focus. This is one of the most difficult phases in the quest towards customer focus. The depth of customer focus in a company is directly proportional to the depth of the customer information collected. The effectiveness of all customer-related promotions will depend on the extent to which the collected information is being used at the customer touch points.

For example in a business to business environment, firms are sitting on a huge pile of customer information. The information from the past interactions with the customer, the information from the past sales data are all available with the company. How well this information is available to the sales force will determine the effectiveness of any customer related campaign run by the company. While most firms collect customer information, this information are seldom updated or distributed to the concerned personnel.Another important task for the managers is to identify the customer group that the organisation should focus on. It is near impossible for organisations to satisfy every customer. Some customers may be unprofitable for the company to serve. The management should be able to take informed decision on the customer groups which it will have to focus on. Once these groups are identified, firms must orient its organisation to deliver exceptional service to these customers.

Customer-Centric Organisational Culture

The second most important pillar of customer focused organisational strategy is the culture. Customer-centric organisational culture is where the entire organization is tuned to deliver exceptional service to the customer. Customers become the centre around which the organization is built.

The Chief Executive becomes the Chief Customer Officer. Every process and actions of the firm is prepared with customer in mind. Although this proposition may sound theoretical, companies like Marriott, P&G and FedEx have built their business around a customer focused strategy.

Human Resource

People form the third pillar of a customer focused organisation. The employees are the vital interface between the customer and the company. Customer focused organisations invest huge resources in developing a team of highly trained customer- care executives.

It is critical for organisation to understand the importance of front-line employees who deal directly with the customers. These employees represent the face of the organisation. There has to be clear role clarity for employees who interact with the customers. Customers always prefer a single contact point with the selling organisations. Customer focused organisations thrive because their entire organisation is created to optimize customer touch points. The customer –care executives are given enough authority and responsibilities to deal with customer requirements. Cases which are beyond their authority are escalated to higher levels.

Conflict Resolution.

Handling customer conflicts is the litmus test of the effectiveness of any customer-centric organisation. When there are no conflicts or complaints, customer management is not a daunting task.

The real depth of customer focus is revealed when there is a complaint or a conflict. As customers, we all have faced situations where our complaints go unresolved. A recent survey conducted on mobile phone users revealed that unresolved complaint was one of the major reasons for customer churning in Post-paid customer segment.

Customer focused organisations have a robust complaint handling mechanism backed by strong process and also sufficient budgets. These organisations have a system where complaints or conflicts are addressed within a stipulated time frame. The unresolved complaints are escalated to higher levels of management and necessary actions are taken at each levels of management for proper remedial actions.

41 creative ideas from Europa

When it comes to advertising awards, there as many award shows as there are agencies. Every major region aims to celebrate creativity with it’s own set of awards. Among the awards, I have been an avid follower of European advertising awards – be it the Epica Awards or Eurobest.

Compared to advertising from rest of the world, skin show and sexual innuendo is pretty common among award-winning ads from Europe. Most of these countries don’t have the kind of problems developing countries have – population, poverty etc. It is perhaps reflected in the advertising categories (Dairy products, Alcoholic Drinks, Non-Alcoholic Drinks), the sophistication of ads and the kind of brands that resort to advertising (kitchen knives, furnishings, an orchestra) and so on.

Herewith a collection of print ads from European award festivals:

1. Ahlens, a department store in Sweden released vertical strip ads to highlight the various things available at the store. What was charming story of things used to rescue a cat from a tree. Here is the full campaign series:

Ahlens No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part  Ein
Agency: King, Stockholm

2. Bazooka: cute little ad to dramatize the bubble-gum as crash protection.
Bazooka No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa    Part Ein
Agency: Duval Guillaume, Brussels

3. Bic: brilliant series to dramatize the proposition: Joy of Writing.

Bic  No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Ein
Agency: Jung von Matt, Germany

4. Braun: brings out the human in men

Braun No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part  Ein
Agency: BBDO, Germany

5. Chupa Chups: sugar free, hence no ants. Copied several times over in other parts of the world.

Chupa Chups.jpg
Agency: DDB ESPANA

6. Colgate Total: ‘prevents discolouration of teeth’ is the proposition.

Colgate 2 No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa    Part Ein
Agency: Young & Rubicam, Germany

7 & 8. Corail Teoz trains: two ads to promote the comfort of traveling by France’s Teoz trains. The chauffer sitting in front is hilarious.

Corail Teoz bikers1 No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from  Europa   Part EinCorail Teoz1 No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa    Part Ein

Agency: TBWA/Paris

9. Dank: this campaign won the Epica d’Or in 2009 at the Epica Awards.

Dank  No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Ein
DDB, Istanbul

10. Dextro: brawn for your brain, is the claim.

Dextro No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part  Ein
Agency: Kempertrautmann, Germany

11. Glenfiddich: every year counts

Glenfeddich No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa    Part Ein
Agency: 180 Amsterdam

12. Halls: brilliant telegraphic ad. Claim: balsamic action.

Halls No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part  Ein
Agency: JWT, Italy

13. IKEA: your dreams come true, at least as far as home furnishings are concerned.

IKEA - Dreams.jpg
Agency: DDB Germany/ Düsseldorf

14. Inlingua: your English may make you seem like an alien.

Inlingua No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa    Part Ein
Agency: Kolle Rebbe Werbeagentur, Hamburg, Germany

15. Kodak Chrome camera roll: catches everything in low light is the claim.

Kodak Owl.jpg
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Germany

16. Langley Travel agency specializes in ski trips. And they are now in Japan. Racist, perhaps but funny.

Langley No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa    Part Ein
Agency: Goss, Sweden

17. Leica dramatized the product attribute of 12x zoom brilliantly in this outdoor campaign.

Leica No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part  Ein
Agency: Advico Young & Rubicam

18. Lisbon airport has a new look.

Lisbon blonde No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa    Part Ein
Agency: BBDO Portugal

19. McKinsey recruitment ad: brilliant targeting of potential candidates.

Mckinsey No English? No problem: 41 creative ideas from Europa    Part Ein
Agency: Ruf Lanz Werbeagentur

20. Milko: ‘a near cow experience’ – the claim and the execution may seem bizarre to us in India, but I guess its a quaint way of equating ‘natural’ with the brand.

Milko - train.jpg Agency: Åkestam Holst, Sweden

21. Niedermeyer a consumer goods retail store advertised for its range of digital cameras with super zoom capability.
Niedermeyer 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Deux Agency: TBWA/Vienna

22. Nintendo: several gaming brands have dramatized the addictive nature of the gaming device with the ‘hands so busy’ idea. Here’s one such:
Nintendo Prison.jpg Agency: Lowe Brindfors

23. Nurdie: a print campaign for a brand of stocking saw the funny side of the product feature: opaque stockings.
NurDie 1 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Deux Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Werbeagentur

24. Globus Rutan pet food is so irresistible that inspires ‘others’ to masquerade as cats. The idea has been done by other pet food brands, but this is still funny.
Rutan owl 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Deux Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Germany

25 & 26: Siemens: brilliant series of ads to dramatize the claim ‘the quietest vacuum cleaner in its class’.
Siemens - chess.jpg
Siemens - concert.jpg
Agency: Scholz & Friends, Hamburg, Germany

27. Smint: speak closer is the proposition. The idea of seeing it from the perspective of the user gave the visuals a dramatic twist.

Smint 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Deux
Agency: Leo Burnett, Lisbon

28. Soho – a brilliant series of ads to dramatize the benefit of high heels, ‘walk in the clouds’.
Soho  41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Deux
Soho 2.jpg Agency: Agency: Wirz/BBDO, Zurich

29. Sony PSP: one of my favourite ideas in this series – it makes you chuckle and drives home the point of addictive gaming cleverly.
Sony PSP.jpg
Agency: Agency:TBWA Espana

30. Spontex: ’super absorbent’ is the claim. Brilliant art direction.
Spontex 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Deux
Agency: TBWA/Paris

31 & 32: These ads are cool media innovations for Sprite, to drive home the point of ‘No Sugar, No Bull’. The first ad, a double spread presented a pretty picture. The instructions (fold on dotted lines so that A meet B – made famous by MAD Magazine) present a different picture altogether.
Sprite 1 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Deux
Sprite 2 41 creative ideas from Europa   Part Deux Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi

Brand experience: small gestures, big difference

Happy_customer
Happy_customer

There are several books on Brand Experience, the importance of retail in the process and the concept of integrated brand message. A couple of recent incidents brought alive the concept of brand experience for me, like no book can, recently.

The advertising for men’s fashion brands in India has some common elements: hunks, models as corporate bigwigs, showcasing of the merchandise and Italian brand names of shirts. The last one is a fairly recent phenomenon with names Positano, Portofino and Manzoni. During Diwali all the brands were visible on print media – so you had very la-di-da settings, power dressers and premium Italian shirts splashed all over newspapers and billboards. I walked into one such premium brand’s exclusive outlet in Bangalore, checking out the Italian line of shirts. Being an exclusive store of a national brand, it followed the colour codes of the chain. The only jarring thing I noticed was the music playing over the store speakers: it was an old, soulful Hindi film number sung by Mahendra Kapoor. It may be a popular song but when you think about it, the world of Mahendra Kapoor and premium Itlalian brands go together. I remember the ad campaign for Arrow Shirts in India some time back where they attempted dramatize Arrow’s heritage and America of yore. The agency had even specified that only jazz music was to be played at the stores and even provided tapes/CDs to the client. It may seem like a trivial gesture but creating the right environment at the retail level – in line with what the brand message, goes a long way in providing an integrated brand experience.

I also visited a Sony outlet and bought a new LCD TV over the weekend. The store promised me that the delivery would be made the same day. The TV was not delivered even by 9pm and when I called the store, I was told that the delivery boys were out on their rounds. Since it was late, I expected delivery to happen the next day. To my surprise, the store manager and an assistant landed up at home by 10pm with  the TV! I was told since it was a commitment they honoured it by bringing in the TV on a 2-wheeler! Pretty impressive.

No matter what the advertising is, the retail environment and the attitude of in-store employees makes all the difference. No?