Mind the Gap!

8 07 2010

Mind the gap? Marketing Week got me thinking – are some organisations focusing on the wrong things?

This article should be a wake-up call to brand owners everywhere who perhaps get too focused on the developing a ‘brand image’ and perhaps neglect the ‘brand experience’ – thus creating this gap.

In these tougher economic times, customers will be considering their purchases much more carefully; they are looking for greater value and are likely to be more critical when they feel short-changed. Consequently, this value gap could result in a lost future sale or more significantly them spreading negative word-of-mouth to friends and family, damaging the long-term health of the brand.

In this article Lucy Handle states (in relation to car brands) “As we come out of recession, consumers have higher expectations and I think that rather than just focusing on the driving experience, consumers are looking at the purchase, the dealership experience and the ethical credentials,” – this supports the fact that it’s not just the product, but the purchase experience that matters.  Purchasers need to feel good about the way they are treated when they buy a product. The experience matters.  Generally we know what to expect from the products we purchase, but the purchase experience is where there is opportunity for delight or disappointment.

The article does confirm old adage ‘under promise and over deliver’, but the real challenge is actually measuring the perceptions and experiences to know where you are. You need real-time, accurate, reliable data.  You need to get a handle on the actual brand experienced delivered if you are to manage it.

And as a final thought – why not differentiate your product on the brand experience? Create a culture that oozes uniqueness and value? It’s much more sustainable than trying to build a better widget.  As has been said “culture trumps strategy every time”.


Heard it through the grapevine

6 07 2010

pHc recently completed a major study into home builders’ brands in Scotland.  And as you might expect, we have unearthed some interesting findings.
Here are some ‘top-line’ facts –
*43 developer brands were spontaneously mentioned – and this was only in the central belt of Scotland!  What an enormous range of brands for potential homebuyers to choose from, and more importantly to have some knowledge and opinion of before visiting or considering buying from

*when we delved below the level of awareness into familiarity and brand positioning, we found that potential homebuyers had little or no depth of understanding or ability to differentiate between the various brands.

 ….and then consider that buying a home is (for most people) the biggest single purchase they will ever make – how do they reach a decision?

Answer – good old ‘word-of-mouth’

Yes, when we asked how they differentiated between the brands and how they formed opinions of them, the resounding responses were – “their reputation” and “whether they were recommended by friends and colleagues”. Interestingly, not by the style of homes they build!

So, forget multi-media advertising campaigns and glossy brochures, forget posters, signs and even state-of-the-art websites, what they heard over a coffee or whilst sharing a pizza with their friends determined how good or bad a developer was and whose homes were better than the rest.

So, whats the message? 

Ignore ‘word-of-mouth’ and social media at your peril. 

And a tip for developers (and other retailers) – there is a ‘win-win’ here – give your existing customers a great buying experience and positive reasons to talk about you and  they will spread great news on your behalf.

The full report is available from pHc – www.phconsulting.org.uk

5 ways to encourage word of mouth referrals

2 07 2010

The Internet may be fast becoming the most powerful marketing tool available to organisations, but we shouldn’t underestimate the consistent influence of word of mouth referrals. A company lives and dies by its reputation and word of mouth has become increasingly important as the general public become less trusting of what Business and the Media say, and start listening to their family, friends and colleagues. Here’s five great ways to encourage positive word of mouth referrals:

ONE: Get the Customer Experience Right Positive and Negative Word of Mouth are most often derived from your customer’s experience. Do you care about your customer’s overall experience? If you don’t, you should because there’s never been more choice for consumers, if they don’t like what they find with you, they can always go elsewhere. If you want to encourage word of mouth referrals, you need to get the entire customer experience right. For organisations that care about encouraging positive word of mouth (PWOM) and diminishing potential negative word of mouth (NWOM), it’s important to reconsider how you deliver the customer experience. Consistently delivering an unforgettable customer experience is the most effective way of getting people talking about you, your brand, products or services. Your job is to make sure it’s unforgettable for all the right reasons.

 TWO: The Follow Up The customer experience doesn’t end at the point of sale. Following up your sales with a quick courtesy call can really make the difference. A follow up communication gives the customer the chance to mention any problems and helps your organisation to demonstrate that you care and customers like to think that you care about more than just their money.

THREE: Fix What You Find The Follow Up was a great opportunity to measure the customer’s experience. But once you find something that went wrong in the customer’s experience, you can immediately improve positive word of mouth by fixing the problem fast. Demonstrating your efficiency and customer care positively promotes your business.

FOUR: Customer Referral Scheme It’s possible that you can generate great positive word of mouth from your existing customers by setting up a customer referral scheme. It’s used by all sorts of organisations, the more customers they refer, the greater the rewards for all concerned. This is the perfect low-cost way of getting your existing customer-base to market for you.

FIVE: Catchy Product/Service Names Develop catchy, memorable product and service names. Apple have been consistently smart about the use of the prefix ‘i-‘ before the name of many of their products, which helps them to become immediately memorable for existing customers and those seeking to find out more about those products. But who’d spread the word about the new XDP-555-DE2-XL/1? Creating great word of mouth referrals is a lot more than simply creating hype. It’s about encouraging and managing the way that conversation spreads from person to person. To find out more about how Word of Mouth could help your business to grow, visit http://www.phconsulting.org.uk.