Archive for reputation
So many people think that their brand is their logo and hence their brand reputation relies on it. And yes, they’re right – that’s part of it – but it’s just a part and a very small part at that.
Your brand reputation is also made up of;
- your products and services – the spread you offer, how good your products/services are, how long your deliverables last, if they live up to customer expectation
- the experience your customers have when dealing with you or your staff whether that’s in store, on the phone, online, in print
- the experience that other people ‘hear about’ in terms of what you’re like as a business to deal with
- what’s going on in the industry, media, regulatory circles that might affect you or your customers
- how the business owners respond to any issues or crisis
- any touchpoint (website, business card, blog, social media posts, billboard, sales presentation, networking approach, brochure, you or your staff personally – what you/they wear, drive, etc) your customers come into contact with and form perceptions about.
In other words, your brand’s reputation is made up of anything and everything a customer or their gatekeepers know, see or feel about your brand.
And let’s face it, some of things on that list – you just can’t control. Sometimes damage can occur with a rumour getting out of control or experiencing plain bad luck. Sometimes, you might even be dealing with larger things like industry issues, demographic/economic issues or government regulation.
So what does that mean for you as a business owner?
In a nutshell, control the things around your brand reputation that you can control – especially the easy things like anything to do with your customer touchpoints – like your website, brochures, sales pitches, office interiors, branding, key messages, etc.
Make sure everything to do with your business is customer centric and your branding efforts are as consistent and as well produced as possible. Why? Because everything you do communicates – good, bad or inconsistent – it’s all part of your brand reputation. And if it’s inconsistent, your customers sense at a very deep level, that all isn’t quite as it should be and even if they can’t explain why, they’ll often look elsewhere – somewhere that ‘feels’ more ‘right’.
One of the things that almost all business owners are guilty of at some point is straying from their key messages – usually because they’re bored with them. Back when I was repping (a thousand years ago), my sales manager would say, “never deviate. Just because you’re bored with the message doesn’t mean the customer is.” Wise words indeed. Research tells us that it often takes 5-13 times for the message to sink in with the customer. And if you keep changing it, at best all you’re doing is tarnishing your reputation by confusing the customer. At worst, you’re making them feel uncomfortable – and uncomfortable customers will seek comfort elsewhere. And let’s face it, that’s not great for your reputation either.
If we can help you build or boost your brand reputation with your clients and customers, we’d be delighted to talk to you. You can drop us a line here.
Whenever we’d discussed it in the past, she’d – how do I put this politely – freak out. Now this woman is vibrant, level-headed and is right on the cutting edge of business. Yet when it came to moving forward on this, she found it really difficult – almost panic inducing. She’d already knocked the project on its head at the end of last year because of a hideously short deadline and having too many competing cooks involved.
At that point her branding went from okay to awful, despite the addition of the most perfect tagline for her business. Unfortunately – for a brand that needs to be bold, vibrant and just a little irreverent, the new tagline had been reduced to whispering bashfully, almost awkwardly, on the page. Hence the brand now looked even more incongruent with the business she was creating.
Fast forward several months and I kept looking at the concept boards in my office and the initial design concepts we were about to refine when it was stopped in its tracks. Now, I’m the first to admit if something’s not up to snuff and this wasn’t in that category at all. In fact, I knew in my bones that it was the right way forward for her and her clients (some of whom I know well – and are also clients).
So when the gorgeous client came back to me for something else, I decided that I would talk to her about her new branding issues and have another go. She said she could go there, but I could see the panic in her eyes. And said we’d leave it for now.
But it kept taunting me from the corner of my office. Hence when the client said she was going to have a suite of new stationery done, I couldn’t stand by and let her waste her money on something that was not just lackluster, but didn’t fit her, her clients or what she was trying to do at all. So I suggested we try again. She agreed.
The next morning I came in to an email halting the project again. She’d lost sleep and couldn’t go there. But this time, rather than back down, I calmly spoke my mind and insisted that she trust the rebranding process and my experience and that we finish what we started. Whilst I was on the phone I sent her a just-finished revision of the concept.
And I waited…..
She went from flustered and stressed to smiling. Yes, smiling. The new design hit the mark and made her smile. More than that, she then started telling me, how perfectly it reflected her clients. BINGO!!
Sure little tweaks still required, but we were now definitely on the right track.
The moral to the story:
- If you’re embarking on something that’s difficult, be careful who you accept advice from. In this case, the wrong advice could have killed the client’s brand or at the very least profoundly muddied her message.
- Ask to speak with previous clients about their experience of the process
- Once you’re working with the right professional – give yourself over to their process. It should never be about them being right and which then necessitates someone else being wrong. Not at all. Rather it’s about trusting in a tried and true process – with all its ups and downs. Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes not. In this case the process was to get to and then reflect the heart of the brand in the eyes of its owners and its customers. It was an interesting journey, but the brand is now so much stronger for it.
- If you’re a marketing or design professional and you know that where you’re going is the right place for the client – DON’T GIVE UP!! But make sure, it’s not just because you like the design – but your process should get you out of your own way. Sometimes taking a bit of a stand with a client is necessary to get the best from the project.
And as an aside: Thank you to my lovely client (you know who you are) for having the courage to go back there and allowing me to help create her new look. Your branding now reflects the wonderful, vibrant, strong, bold woman that you (and your clients) are. Now go change the world!!
We spend so much time talking about how to get new business, that often it seems that businesses and business owners forget that existing customers are so much easier (and cheaper) to keep. Here’s how not to do it.
Santa gave one of my children croc-esque clogs in her stocking from Rivers Clothing store. Unfortunately they didn’t fit – by one size (kid’s feet – what can you say). Imagine my surprise when we tried to exchange them(with the receipt) we were charged double the price. But Santa had bought them, so of course we paid the difference – albeit feeling completely fleeced. Imagine my disappointment when those shoes, yes, the ones we’d just paid double for, broke on their very first wear.
So it was time to head back to the store again, this time to return the broken shoes. I had also gotten a pair for myself in size 5, that I put on to wear to the store. Imagine my surprise (now turning to chargrin) when one shoe fit great and the other was so small I couldn’t get my foot into it properly (even though it too was labelled size 5). When I compared them heel to heel, it was obvious that there was a sizing mistake and I’d been sold an incorrectly labelled pair.
Anyone sensing a theme here? But wait…it gets worse. So much worse.
Whilst we were going to revisit the store, I figured I’d also take back the obviously female (labelled as floral) fragrance that had been incorrectly put into my bag as a stocking filler for…my husband. When purchasing it, I had in fact been quite specific about asking they give me a men’s fragrance.
Needless to say, the instore experience trying to return goods that weren’t up to par and that weren’t fit for purpose under the ACCC’s new consumer laws was just awful. The salesperson made a big deal out of the returns, saying he’d have to go out the back to get purchase order numbers for the goods (whilst standing in front of the store computer!!), they didn’t want to refund, couldn’t I just buy yet another pair (I don’t think so) and when I tried to return the fragrance – the store manager was called. A scene ensued where I was told that it was all cologne, who was I to say that any of it was particularly suited to men or women (except that by and large men don’t wear floral fragrances and the packaging is different for the two different ranges). At no point did anyone offer to swap it for me.
At this point, I should point out, that the total sales figure we were talking about here was worth $20. Yes, 20 tiny dollars.
I came home and wrote Rivers management an email outlining the awful customer service experience and below is how they replied (5 days later).
Our apologies to hear about your negative experience at our Belrose store.
Unfortunately it sounds like in both cases the store person was adhering to Rivers returns policy. In the case of the clogshoes – at the time of exchange we have to take the current selling priceof the item which means if the promotion has finished you will be charged the full price – except in the case when the exchange is for the exact same item. (silly me for thinking that changing one pair of clogs for another just one size up was an altogether different item).
In saying this however our returns policy should have been explained to you in a kind and courteous manner – the customer service you described sounds well below what we would expect of our staff.
We are very sorry the customer service that you received was unsatisfactory; we will most definitely be looking into this further.
The respondent then went on to list a great number of people that would see my email, as if that would somehow make it better – it didn’t. The problem lies not with not enough people seeing my complaint, but with, in my opinion, bad company policy.
Needless to say, they didn’t actually offer anything that would make we want to return to their stores. In fact, now having had the policy outlined, I will NEVER set foot in one of their stores again.
If the lifetime value of your customers is likely to be greater than $20 (or whatever your number is), make sure you treat them with respect and do whatever’s required (and frankly is the right thing) to keep them. if someone has the temerity to complain about something – treat the complaint like the gift that it is.
Research has shown time and again, that if you fix someone’s complaint (I asked for a $5 refund – not a store credit, yep, $5), they’re likely to be even more loyal in the future. However, if they didn’t complain (or you didn’t fix it when they did), they would tell 10 or so people. But now times have changed - they can now broadcast it to the world.
They can also report the issues to the ACCC – which I intend to do.
If you’ve had nasty customer service experiences or suggestions for fixing bad company policies, please feel free to share.
The first time I was ever asked “what’s the difference between marketing & PR?”, I didn’t quite know how to answer it. Certainly there were the definitions put forward at uni and from the various industry bodies – but then (and I’d profer, even now) there was some academic argy bargy going on.
So I set about coming up with my own working explanation – that was short, to the point and that those not in the industry had a hope in hades of understanding (not something academics are well known for).
Marketing leads to a transaction (or a sale from a member of the organisation/product/service’s target market)
Public Relations leads to an interaction (designed to build trust or open/continue a conversation with a member of the organisation/product/service’s target audience)
If you combine the two, you get MPR – an interaction that ultimately leads to a transaction.
However the true value of PR is not all about building sales, nor is it about getting media coverage/publicity. Sometimes it’s just as important to stay less attainable and/or out of the media (and yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity).
Great PR and marketing people are not necessarily interchangeable. Marketing is often about data/research, PR less so.
The best marketers aren’t just about stuff, they’re about strategy – watching and listening to the marketplace in order to determine whether or not product/service A is going to work, if it needs tweaks, how to best position it and then they work to get it out there.
Great PRs are about building relationships with stakeholders – a much broader subset of people who may or may not ultimately buy from you – but who could be extremely influential to those who can. Stakeholders might be purchasing gatekeepers (mums, Drs, hospitals or governments) or they might be activists who dislike how your organisation does something and are determined to have it stopped at a local, industry or even government level or just about anyone else in the mix.
Too often people (and that includes some industry folks) think both are just about marketing materials, advertising or publicity (which is mainly one way communication). That seriously minimises the impact marketers and PRs can make to your business, organisation, product or service.
Ultimately, great marketers launch great products/services, in the right place, at the right price, to the right people using the right mediums and great PRs nuture, defend and protect them.
Hope that helps. Let me know your thoughts.
After years of training CEOs and senior executives how to get the best outcomes from media interviews, I found out that learning lessons at the hands of the tabloid media isn’t just for the uninitiated. Even when you think you’re not near the kitchen, you can still get burned.
Back in 2005, I was invited to chair a panel at a pharmaceutical industry conference on the industry’s reputation. After a couple of weeks of discussions, the organisers and I decided that it would be best if there was a blanket ban on any media attending as we wanted the session to be a robust debate. All good you might think.
I wanted to kick-start the room with a bit of a sarcastic review of some recent goings on. “Yes, yes, this is the usual media beat-up that we all know and love as public relations people.” However, at the heart of it – I’m a marketer with a strong belief in ‘What’s in it for me’ from the customer’s perspective and I wanted to push people a little out of their comfort zone to say, “hey, these are real people that are complaining that we’re not doing a good enough job! These are our customers and we should be paying better attention to them. What are we going to do about our trashy reputation?”
What followed was a disappointing discussion where several of the more vocal folks in the room thought the only customer that mattered was the government and its Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (the whole-sale buyer if you like). I have to say, I was rather saddened by the response as there are so many other key players in pharma marketing, not the least of which are the patients (and the voters in of the aforementioned governments). I came away thinking the industry’s reputation was in worse shape than even I’d dreamed was possible.
But then, imagine my profound joy when a tabloid journalist from Auntie called saying she had a tape of the whole debate and would use it however she wished unless I gave her an interview to put my side. I politely declined – there was little point. It was to be a hatchet job no matter what I said. I did however, have a prepared crisis plan just in case the piece spread to other media outlets.
When the piece went to air, my intro led the story – dripping in sarcasm – with my key points about the importance of patients carefully edited out. The piece played quite a few times across several time slots. Bugger – of all the things to be repeated. What can I say – BURNED!!
So what might you learn from my heinous experience?
- At any event – live or online, assume there will be journalists there – even if you’re promised it’s a closed session. In my case, the ABC journalist wasn’t there at the time either, but a friend of hers was, taping everything that was said. These days phone technology makes it exceptionally easy for anyone to record/video almost anything.
- We tell clients, nothing said to or done with the media is ever off the record. These days that spreads much further afield to just about any event, email, instant message or web comment. Don’t say anything publicly that you wouldn’t be happy hearing yourself say on TodayTonight.
- Watch your tone. I came off as cynical and uncaring – when what I’d been really aiming for was concerned.
- Start with your key message – up front and centre. Again I was aiming for concerned but it took me a bit of time to get there. Start with the end in mind.
- Should that favourite tabloid journo or blogger come to call with something damning they’re planning on revealing to the world at large, the next thing you should do is sketch out your crisis plan – or better still call a senior PR person who has arm’s length perspective to sketch it out with you. In the midst of a media fire – they’ll bring a level of calm, think of things you don’t necessarily think of in a crisis and can act as the media’s first point of contact – which often buys you the most important thing of all - time to think before you speak.
If you’ve had a similar experience that you’d like to share, please leave a comment.