It used to be that brands could think and operate on a transaction-by-transaction basis. People shopped for goods and services, they bought something, and then they and that brand parted company until the customer came back to buy something else. Times certainly have changed. Businesses that want to thrive today need to create a brand experience that isn’t just about what happens at point of sale or even during a protracted shopping experience. A friendly follow-up isn’t enough either.
In fact, the expression “customer journey,” though useful, can at times be a bit misleading because it can be taken to imply that there is an end, a conclusion. Companies that want to reach their full potential now need to understand the importance of maintaining a permanent presence in the lives of customers, an endless relationship not confined to separate episodes of actively considering a purchase.
Here are a few tips on how to achieve that total experience:
Know your audience
One of the benefits of the internet, and especially of artificial intelligence now available for customer service interactions, is the opportunities it provides for gathering more and better information about your audience. Not many years ago, businesses wanted to know who was buying from them, or collect information on audience demographics, in order to tailor a sales pitch. What you need to do now is position yourself so the people you’d like to reach want you in their lives permanently.
What do they care about beyond a certain type of product? What are their broader interests? How can you legitimately and adroitly associate yourself with those interests? Nike built an empire by being not just a shoe but a brand that represented an entire achievement-oriented lifestyle. In a similar way, Starbucks is positioned not just as a place to get a cup of coffee but also as representative of a particular outlook on society.
If you can assure that your brand is about something bigger than the product itself, you’ll not only strengthen your appeal to people who know about and seek the product, you’ll also bring into your orbit a large aggregate of people who come to that product because you connected with other, deeper interests first. Read more