This continues our look at excellence as a key component in your company's brand. (See the other parts of this series)
Brand isn’t just a persona that your business projects in order to attract interest. Brand is the sum total of associations your audience has with your business. Did you catch that key difference? A brand’s real center exists inside your audience’s hearts and minds. All that we craft in your communications - a well-designed and well-organized website with articulate, resonant messaging - it serves to establish brand, but the real locus of that brand understanding is inside the prospect or client.
Because people crave authenticity now more than ever, any dissonance between what is represented and the actuality can cause your audience to engage their baloney filter. A part of the “excellence” factor discussed last time is the authenticity factor. This means there needs to be continuity between what you have in your messaging, and what people actually experience when they engage your product or service.
When I was a boy, my best friend and I saved up some pennies to buy a box full of toy army men that was advertised in the back of all of our comic books. We saw the ad again and again, and we were so hyped that we just had to have this impressive horde of realistic-looking soldiers that were in the picture. We envisioned epic battles and hours of fun. We sealed up our cash in an envelope and waited what seemed like a year. When the package finally came, it contained a flimsy card stock "footlocker" with a collection of small (under 1”) cheap, flat, stamped plastic “soldiers” and equipment inside. It didn’t at all look like the what we expected from the advertisement.
In the tech biz, I have experienced plenty of instances where the standard marketing experience presents a picture that is compelling, but then once you’ve bought your ticket, the quality is not what you expected. Maybe its a service, and the documentation and support are terrible. Maybe those are good, but the service itself is not as flexible or robust, or rock-solid as you were led to believe.
A friend in the visual FX biz recently tried setting up some electronic gear from a well-known company and was so frustrated with it (and this is a hands-on DIY tech guy) that he posted a kind of anti-review for it that called for the summary execution of the programmers who created its software. Hopefully, your customer experience does not generate calls for the guillotine. But the same principle applies in many more mundane instances.
The usual case is that the advertisement spoke of rapturous glory, and the experience fell somewhat short. I purchased a virtual private server package from a webhost a while back, and while the server itself was great, the documentation I received for setting it up was scant and disorganized. They missed a huge opportunity to take me by the hand and walk me through the process in such a way that could have won my loyalty and caused me to sing their praises (I have done this more than once on social media when I have encountered a great after-the-sale experience).
Maybe your salesperson is sharp, knowledgable, and an excellent communicator, but after the sale, the service person doesn’t answer calls in a timely manner, and when they do, they are disorganized and tardy for the appointments they make. You have to realize, that this post-sale experience is just as much marketing as the stuff up at the front end of your sales funnel. This is exactly why Amazon long ago decided to go lighter on advertising, and pour the money into free shipping. That move cemented a loyal customer base, and created a resonant talking point that gets repeated by customers to prospects. This is the invisible part of the iceberg that is brand. Everything up front is critical, but if there is a disjoint with what is delivered, your brand takes a hit.
The takeaway in this is that when crafting brand messaging, it is imperative to draw out things that are accurate representations of who you are, and where you are going. Make sparkling promises, and then keep them. This also, is excellence. It’s how we do things at Hexatrope, and it’s how we like to craft communications for our clients as well.