Talking to your customers has always been key. And talking to them about the right things, in the right way, at the right time is vital. Great branding is often described as a short cut to the written word because it appeals to our emotions. To be successful today, businesses must be aware of the ‘emotion economy’. As described by Billee Howard in her article for Forbes:
For successful brands, it's no longer just about understanding what customers will do, but rather how they will feel and how best we can get them to act. - Billee Howard
So, if you haven’t done any work on your brand recently, that’s something that you should seriously consider adding to your to do list. Your brand is how you communicate with your customers, without even saying anything.
What's the emotion economy?
You don’t have to look very far for examples of this: The John Lewis Christmas advert every year or the WWF advert that’s on TV at the moment. Even closer to home, you all know that as soon as you post, repost, like or share something involving an animal, your engagement goes through the roof.
When individuals have a positive emotional association with a specific brand, they are 8.4 times more likely to trust the company, 7.1 times more likely to purchase more and 6.6 times more likely to forgive a company’s mistake. – Tempkin Group [2016 study]
And, Neilsen’s study of the same year showed ads that appealed to our emotions increased sales by 23%. So, can you afford to ignore the emotion economy?!
How do you engage your customer's emotion?
The only way to do this is to truly know your customer, as Steve Jobs said:
Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves. - Steve Jobs
Getting this close to your customer requires regular work I’m afraid. You’ve got to engage with them more. If you’re not sending regular surveys, start now. If for no other reason, we need to understand your starting point: how happy are they? How loyal are they? What do they particularly like about what you do? What would they like you to do more of? Would they recommend you? There are lots of things to ask once you understand your objectives, you can craft your survey, so it uncovers exactly the information you require.
Once you’ve done some work to improve things, you then need to be able to survey again and compare the results. This is a crucial element of any marketing activity. If it isn’t measured how do you know whether it’s working or not?
Survey results can also be used to help you segment your customer base. Segmentation (see below) is a method that ensures you understand who exactly you need to speak to, about what, where and when. Once you’ve segmented your customers you will understand which messages to send in order that they resonate with the customer you want to attract.
What is customer segmentation and how do you do it?
It’s the practice of developing a detailed profile of who they are, organisation or individual. This works best if you encourage input from across the business. Different employees will have a different level of knowledge about people or the working processes of an organisation.
Dividing your customers into groups with common characteristics and needs means you can tailor your communication approach to meet each group's needs cost-effectively. This gives you a huge advantage over competitors who use a "one size fits all" approach. Common ways to segment are:
- Demographic: age, marital status, gender, sexuality, education, occupation.
- Geographic: country, region, county, city, town.
- Psychographic: personality, risk aversion, values, or lifestyle.
- Behavioural: how people use the product, loyalty or benefits they are looking for.
Find the most attractive segments to target. There are several factors to consider:
- Profitability: which groups contribute most to the bottom line.
- Size & potential growth: large enough, steady growth? How does it compare?
- Serviceability: how well can the business service it – PESTLE.
Identify how you want to position your product to target the most valuable customer segments. Select the marketing mix that will be most effective for each of them.
- Why should customers purchase your product rather than those of your competitors (positioning map?).
- What are the wants and needs of each segment, or the problem that your product solves.
- How does your proposition meet this requirement better than your competitor’s products (value proposition)?
- Develop a marketing campaign that presents this value proposition in a way that your audience will appreciate.
It may sound like a lot of work but without it you are wasting time and money. It’s also a perfect opportunity to create a project specific cross functional team. These project teams help employee development and engagement at the same time as ensuring you get a 360 view.