Terrible grammar, I know. Before you call the grammar police, let me explain.
My business mantra is that marketing and operations are connected. What I’ve found is that the aspect of BEING is often forgotten in the world of marketing. What I mean is this: living out your brand (or failing to do so) has an impact on your business.
I agree that branding, positioning and messaging are all important. We want to capture peoples’ attention and stand out from the crowd. We want people to know what makes us different, better and more attractive. We want to influence people to buy from us.
Touch points and impressions
What you might be forgetting is this; People often make buying decisions for reasons that have little to do with your message, your pricing, or your product. At the risk of oversimplifying, people buy (and buy again) based on their overall impression. They know you. They like you. They trust you. Their overall experience with you is positive.
Enter the subject of touch points. Touch points relate to every way in which people come into contact with something related to your company. That covers marketing communications, the sales process, customer service and so on. Even packaging, shipping and billing are considered touch points.
At every point, impressions are being formed, modified or reinforced. That collection of impressions, both positive and negative, has a huge influence on peoples’ buying decisions.
My Chick fil-A story
Allow me to illustrate with an experience I had at Chick-fil-A. Not everyone likes them, and I understand that (some folks at Kolbeco refuse to eat there, but we are a non-judgmental group). My personal experience as a customer has been consistently positive. Recently they did something that especially caught my attention.
A few minutes after placing my lunch order I returned to the counter for some Ketchup. In spite of the fact that several people had ordered after me, the person at the register remembered my name. That made an impression on me. He later told me this story.
“Every morning we have a group of school bus drivers that meets here for breakfast. They used to eat down the street at McDonald’s. But two of them came here one morning and we simply called them by name, just like I did with you. Before we knew it, the whole group started meeting here.”
Authenticity wins the day
It’s been said that your brand is your promise, whether it’s made outright or simply implied. The way you live it out matters more to people than what you say. In fact, your real brand is the impressions that live in peoples’ minds.
Authenticity resonates with people and creates attraction. That is why it’s important to “find your why” before crafting your message. Build your culture and train your staff to reflect your values operationally. Live them out every single day.
Branding guru David Aaker said it well in his book, Aaker on Branding – 20 Principles That Drive Success “…the brand will only deliver on the brand promise if the employees believe and live the brand in all the customer touch points. The need is thus to build the brand internally as well as externally.”
My question to you is, “What impressions are you creating with every touch point?”
You see, it’s not just what you say, it’s what you BE.