IBM's ad positions the customer experience dead center as they work as partners with clients to provide super computing cloud capabilities

IBM’s ad positions the customer experience dead center as they work as partners with clients to provide super computing cloud capabilities

Have you noticed that ads that really connect integrate the customer experience into the promotional mix? There has been a shift in what draws people to your brand. Instead of merely focusing on product benefits, the best advertising and promotions focus on what the customer will experience when they use your product.

A New Mindset

Social Media has created a different consumer mindset. Marketers are shifting to creating communications based on the customer journey. The steps of this journey on the way to purchase are to engage, nurture, and convert.

Your promotional mix elements are often the first line of communication that launches this journey. A focus on your unique brand story and the customer journey engages the customer to begin a relationship that immediately impacts the customer experience.

Engage With Relevant Communications and Offers

Customers expect an amazing experience no matter when, where, and how they chose to interact with your brand

Customers expect an amazing experience no matter when, where, and how they chose to interact with your brand

Customers have raised the bar and expect an amazing experience at every touch-point, no matter when, where, and how they chose to interact with your brand.

As marketers, it is our job to meet the customer where they are in their journey, and in their method of interaction, to deliver an amazing experience. The promotional mix elements need to focus on customer experiential moments and deliver.

The 4 P’s, The Customer Experience, and Cultural Change

When the customer service ‘sense and respond’ movement began I was fortunate to work with an organizations Operations and Sales units as Field Marketing Manager. I held the unique position of seeing first-hand that many customer issues occurred at the front lines, Operations and Sales.

This perspective provided me the opportunity to work throughout the organization to improve the 4 Ps of marketing:

  • Product
  • Place
  • Price
  • Promotion

I had observed that all departments were involved in creating inconsistencies that materialized when the customer ultimately interacted with Ops. and Sales. For example, marketing developed offers that operations people were not aware of, and confusion occurred at the point-of-purchase.

Inconsistencies in customer interactions negatively effects the customer experience

Inconsistencies in customer interactions negatively effects the customer experience

Clearly, inconsistencies throughout the organization negatively impacted the customer experience. The leadership team made a bold decision. They decided to begin the process of corporate cultural change.

The new focus was on the customer experience. At first, cross-functional teams tackled the issue. Eventually reorganizations integrated marketing, sales, service and operations to achieve measurable customer-centric results.

Often some level of corporate cultural change needs to occur so that the entire organization shifts their mindset to the customer experience, with the goal of building customer lifetime value.

Listen and Respond to Customers

We listened and responded to what customers enjoyed from using our product. By truly understanding what our customers aspired to by using out product we changed, and grew.

  • Operations expanding their services to where the customers wanted us to be.
  • We changed our service delivery at established operating units.
  • New products, pricing and services were launched, based on customer preferences.

Through the processes of engage, nurture and convert we increased profits form existing customers and expanded our products to more customer segments.

For a customer experience promotional strategy to truly work the entire organization needs to have a customer-focused mindset, at all levels.

Make an Impact Through The Promotional Mix

The promotional mix is the last P in the four P’s of marketing. The definition of the promotional mix is the tools used to communicate to the target market and achieve organizational sales objectives. Included are: Advertising, Sales Promotion, Direct Selling, Direct Marketing and Public Relations,

Advertising

Print, TV, Social Media and other forms of advertising fall under this category. Traditionally a creative agency developed media campaigns to create awareness about a product’s benefits.

Kit Ace clothing-conveys an experience in the simple ad

Kit Ace clothing-conveys an experience in the simple ad

Marketing teams are slowly moving away from this strategy to focus on how the product’s benefits impact the customer experience.

Here is where the brand story and the customer journey interact. Understanding how the customer uses the product and creating the experience draws them in.

Because customers interact with a brand through a greater source of media outlets, the experiential marketing message needs to be consistent through all media channels.

Sales Promotion

Sales promotion consists of marketing techniques to motivate the customer to action. The various techniques are excellent ways to stimulate a purchase action and some are perfect for enhancing the customer experience.

A Sweepstakes conveys a perceived experience that draws the reader in and gets your message across

A Sweepstakes conveys a perceived experience that draws the reader in and gets your message across

A Sweepstakes offering an inspirational prize conveys a perceived experience that draws the reader in and gets your message across.

A Contest directly involves the customer and enhances their brand experience.

Promotional Products can be developed to enhance a brand’s feature, benefit or support the advertising message. When it comes to building lifetime value, some promotional products actually stay with the consumer for a lifetime.

Coupons and discounts enhance the buying experience. Hey, everyone loves a deal. Use them to build positive customer experiences as part of a larger customer relationship building strategy.

Public Relations

With a change in corporate culture to a customer experience strategy, all press releases and corporate communications should focus on how changes effect the customer.

Often press releases focus on the company, it’s acquisitions, new locations and so on. This is all great information and an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to the customer experience.

When you put customer value first and foremost in your announcement, everyone of your constituents know where your priorities are.

Direct Sales

Here is where a clearly defined brand story and how the organization engages with the customer experience is important to convey.

Ingraining the sales team with the elements that make up an exceptional customer experience, and providing the tools to include their customers in the journey, is transformational.

Today, with all the information and resources available, keeping up with the customer, not the competition is sometimes the greatest brand challenge. Listening to the customer and sensing where they are in their customer journey provides the sales person the advantage of working as a mutual partner to achieve the client’s goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Danaher

Kevin’s career spans over 30 years where he worked for New York Sales Promotion and Advertising agencies such as Ventura Associates, and BBDO developing promotional campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands including VISA, General Electric, Kraft/General Foods, Fidelity Investments, and Chrysler. Read More