The difference between a company that is vibrant and growing, and one that isn’t is complacency. One could argue if a company has investors, they are pushed to innovate and not be complacent. But what about the small, privately owned companies that grow each year? What do they know that others don’t? They know if they’re not growing, they’re going.
So what can you do to make sure you’re improving the value of your brand? Well, first understand it’s not one particular thing, but an all-encompassing process. Since everything is connected, everything’s affected. In other words, to just do one or four of the five steps we will discuss, will result in a failure, eventually; since the weakest link will break.
1. Become a student of your industry.
2. Learn how to do what you do, better – then do it again.
3. Make your website the best experience it can be.
4. Look for ways to improve customer service, constantly.
5. Then package it and communicate it effectively.
The above sounds simple; but remember, simple doesn’t mean easy. It’s simple to know you need to exercise. It’s hard to get up early and do it. Let’s take a look at these one at a time.
Someone once told me that when you think you know it all, you’re a ripe banana. A ripe banana rots. We live in an ever-evolving technological world. Information doubles every year. What you learned in school will no longer serve you your entire career. Do you know what changes have occurred in your industry last year? Do you know the small facets, not the big changes reported in the news, which create differentiators among competitors? If not, why not?
A succeeding company invests in research and development, because it’s future money. You may think since you don’t offer anything technical or scientific that R&D is not needed. You’d be wrong. R&D takes different forms depending on your industry. Even a lone entrepreneur, working from home, should invest in R&D. How?
The first three are very important; you can’t give what you don’t have. However, what makes the difference is HOW you THINK with what you know! Taking the changes and piecing them together in your own unique way to see what CAN be… if… It’s this “if” that will set you apart. You can’t do it if you don’t read, attend and view the aforementioned – you have nothing to work with.
You may think this is the same as above, but it’s not. You see, this takes the first three steps mentioned above to stay on top of your industry. So if there’s a newer program that does it more efficiently, get it. If there’s a way to save your clients money by streamlining, do it. If a better part is created and using it will make the product better, change it. Then when you’ve improved your product, start looking for how to do it even better. Never stop looking for improvements.
People may not always remember what you told them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. This concept applies to your marketing infrastructure as well. With all the choices today and the limited amount of time available, people filter. In doing so, they will gravitate toward whatever made them feel good – the best user experience.
Your website is the hub of your marketing infrastructure and the key to your business. If it’s subpar, cluttered, underwhelming or just plain vanilla, they will move on. However, if the experience pulled them in and made them blink, they will be back.
So make sure it looks good, reads well, pops with impact, navigates easily, gives good value and information, and entertains your visitor in the process. After all, the three reasons people use social media (where the most traffic to your website comes from) is to be entertained, helped and informed. Do all three and you will have a sure winner.
In keeping with the above, about remembering how you make them feel, customer service will become your best referral mechanism. Moreover, it will also be your most crucial retention tool. After all, it’s cheaper to keep a good customer than it is to find a new one.
So see how you can shorten the response time and ensure you get the correct answer on one call. Make sure your customer-service reps treat your clients like they are the most important person in the world, with a smile. Show gratitude and mean it. They do pay your salary. And never stop looking for ways to improve that experience and how it makes your customers feel.
All of the above is crucial to adding value to your company and customers; however, if your public doesn’t know how good you are, you can lose lots of business. So package it and use it.
Make sure to ask for testimonials from your clients. Get a picture of them smiling whenever possible. Post this on your website, on brochures and in ads.
Write press releases about your growth, innovations and new products. Send them out through various press-release services, article banks, social media and StumbleUpon.
Whenever you’re mentioned anywhere in the media (articles, TV interviews, radio shows or blogs) post them to your media page. Use their logos and create an “As seen on…” “As heard on…” “As read in…” collage and display it everywhere.
Create a video, press release and ad showcasing your successes, and formulate it as a big thank you to your customers, without whom you’d be nowhere. It shows graciousness and lets you toot your own horn.
So don’t become complacent. It’s easy when the bills are paid and business is coming in to think it will never stop. However, your competition is trying everything to outdo you. Become a student of your industry; constantly improve what you do; after spending all the money to get them to your website, make sure you don’t lose them with a subpar experience; make customer service a pleasant experience and then share it with the world. This is known as branding. Because in making your customer remember how you made them feel, you burned your brand in their mind and on their hearts.