Every Second Is An Opportunity To Connect With Your Audience


Digital Is No Excuse

Look around you and you’ll see heads bowed. Over smartphones, tablets, watches; they are bowing to new technology and you are looking up, praying to the Technology Gods that they are seeing your messages and clicking your “try me” button.

Shari Worthington, with blog.telsian.us tells us that, “our senses are bombarded with 11 billion bits of data every second. We ignore 10,999,950 bits of data when we are awake.”

With data like that, it sure sounds easier to give up even attempting to connect with our audiences. After all, we are being ignored over 10 billion data times a day. That feeling, my friend, is an excuse. A vast digital horizon is no excuse to give up connecting to your customers. Digital is the excuse to connect.

The reality is that the radio didn’t go away when TV was born, and new technology isn’t steering your customers away either. New technologies are coming at us faster than we can tweet out #JaneStopThisCrazyThing. And they are all useful tools.

But how do we keep our brand immediate and impactful, so as not to get lost in the sea of 11 billion bits of data? To connect to our customers, we must be intentional, intimate and organized. We must infuse our brand in traditional and new medias and we must fight for our brand like never before.

Intentionally Protect Your Brand Guidelines At All Costs

What do your brand guidelines look like? For many in marketing brand guidelines are PMS colors, logo sizing, and font style. Today’s brand guidelines are all encompassing; a guide showcasing not only how your brand looks but also how your brand looks and feels on each media you interact with. Guidelines need to be in place for all medias; traditional and social. Each set must have standards you will not allow to be weakened. Do not be afraid to hold up your standards and hold teams accountable through coaching and teaching moments.

Let’s pose a question about fusing your brand in all mediums:

Company A has many retail offices. Company A infuses their brand through digital screens, traditional posters, touch screens, social digital interaction and customer brand expectations. One of the expectations is free coffee and cookies. You walk in one retail office and the cookies are displayed on clean ceramic plates that match Company A’s decor. The second office has cookies on a plastic picnic plate and non-matching napkins next to it. Does office B’s (lack of) presentation hurt your brand? You Bet. Make no mistake about it, a retail office IS a media touch point, one of your biggest. Communicate your standards and guidelines – show right/wrong examples. Share photos and educate teams to help everyone be proud of your brand in every interaction.

Intimately Know Your Brand’s Feeling

It isn’t enough to have brand guidelines (although, as mentioned they are critical for anyone who is helping you create marketing materials for digital and traditional media). Guidelines are to a brand what instruction manuals are to new appliances. You throw them away after you successfully turn the newfangled contraption on. Knowing your brand is trusting that new appliance will turn on in the first place and then evoking the feeling you get when it does – over and over again. It’s all about bringing feeling into your products and services. To do this you must know your brand intimately and teach others to feel as passionately about your brand as you do.

Your brand must be infused with your culture. Teach others to love it. Teach others to fight for it. Customers and colleagues alike will become brand ambassadors for you if you teach them to feel the same way and share those feelings. Give permission to feel and then give permission to share. Colors, fonts, placement all evoke feelings in others. Provide ambassadors with the right tools so they are confident in sharing your brand. Do not become complacent with graphics or style. Know what your audience is searching for and deliver products and services before they even ask. If you are intimate with your brand you are already proactively helping your customer. Do not be afraid to fight for the protection and perfection your brand deserves.

Today I walked into a national research institute. In the lobby there were digital screens showcasing latest research updates and upcoming events. A Dale Chihuly Glass Sculpture hung from the ceiling in the shape of DNA. Up to the minute scientific periodicals lay upon seating tables. Every touchpoint told me VanAndel Research Institute was in the business of scientific research and they meant business. When I walked up to the receptionist he asked me if I spell my name with an E.  He didn’t ask how do you spell your name, or would you repeat that please, he asked Lynne, do you spell your name with an E.  I immediately felt their brand intimately both on the outside and the inside: VAI’s brand is scientifically accurate and personalized.

Organizationally Believe Every Touch Point Is Customer Service

Bringing synergy into all of the new mediums that are available to you takes organization and intuition. Start by looking at each touch point you have that reaches your customer, then put your customer in the center of the interaction. Walk through each step of your interaction as if you were the first time visitor. Change any touch point that isn’t infused with your brand or that doesn’t have an outcome of ultimate customer service. From the smile of a real person, to a smile in a voice, to a smile of words chosen in a blog post, to a smile brought by colors and design, bring the customer center stage.

Being responsive is just as much about timing as it is about the design of the platforms you use. When beginning any new project plan, one of the first questions to consider is: “Is our communication responsive or designed for exceptional audience interaction?” If it isn’t, stop the project and make it a key factor for your success.

Today’s customers will not tolerate little or no response, or formats that hurt their eyes or do not look right on the platform they are currently using.

At Consumers, customer service is at the core of our mission and it must be present in all interaction. Interaction with colleagues, customers, online, in person, over the phone, you get the picture. Customer service is education that leads to sales.  Customer service is not silo’d to the customer service team, but infused in all we do. We adhere to standards of answering questions with immediate responses even if the response is “we’ll get right back to you, what is the best way to reach you?” How is that response time immediate and accurate? In our corporation we have set up Care and Share responses that live in-the-cloud. These are ready made, branded and 140 character responses of our most frequently asked questions about our company, products, services or events. Anyone in our organization can ‘Care’ and ‘Share’ pre-branded education. The feeling of ownership and accuracy is a game changer for response delivery.

ShareCareInfoGraphic

As technology changes at the speed of light it is up to us to slow down to connect to our customers even more closely. We must be intentional, intimate and organized. We must infuse our brand in traditional and new medias and we must fight for our brand like never before. Heads are bowed. Are you ready to meet new technology head on?