If You Build It, They Will Come
The movie Field of Dreams inspired people to believe that all it took was a decision to make something happen. The building of a baseball field in the midst of cornfields and dirt roads would drive people in droves to experience something.
"Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack." Terrance Mann, played brilliantly by James Earl Jones, convinced the Costner character that all it took was building the opportunity. As occurs in just about every movie, the impossible became a reality and the people came.
Too often, those of us in the business of providing marketing services and solutions to clients fall victim to the belief system that if we build it, they will come...and stay. Once the logo is designed and the website is built; the SEO strategy in place, we can wear the banner of success...touting our victory to all who will listen. "Look at us. We are marketing experts. Now they will come." The reality is, if were doing our job well, the efforts we employ in partnership with a business need to create more than just short-term spikes in traffic. We need to develop an environment in which evangelists...those customers that remain long after the shelf-life of an agency...are developed and nurtured.
Unfortunately, unlike in the movie Field of Dreams, the process of attracting new and repeat customers is far more complicated. Developing evangelists, which is the ultimate goal of any marketer, is even more complex. Consumers that are willing to be your greatest evangelists aren't doing so because you built a great website, have a cool logo or the most fans on Facebook. Potential customers may find the visual representations of your brand appealing and may even be inclined to act on it but its no guarantee that they will stay and become evangelists. Enter the difference between marketing and advertising.
As described in a previous blog, Marketing is not a website, an ad or a cool technology. Rather it is a process...a process that encompasses far more than just the development of external elements that may sway customer perception of your business.
The evangelist is the most important person to your business. This is the person that tells everyone they know about the contribution your business has made to their life. Whether it be the vaccuum cleaner that finally picks up all the dog hair or the solution you developed to save their business. Regardless of what it is, this person can make or break your brand. No matter how cool your new website is. If a business is relying predominantly on the tool of advertising to create these evangelists, its most likely they will find themselves with little to no credibility. Building and maintaining a brand that generates evangelism requires multiple tools from the Marketing Toolbelt:
Maritz Research provides the following definition of Loyalty Modeling: "Competitive Loyalty Model (CLM) addresses loyalty from a brand research perspective. It provides information on what drives brand choice and brand repurchase in a competitive context, thereby helping companies understand how to increase customer loyalty versus the competition. It helps address quite tactically the question of what levers, including product or service attributes, the organization can address to grow customer loyalty relative to competitors?"
Once a business understands what consumers believe about the brand, why they do and dont come back, they can begin the steps to a strategy that will help in the development of evangelists. The value of loyal customers expands beyond just evangelism: Long term customers are less inclined to switch brands and are less price sensitive, are more likely to purchase ancillary products and high-margin supplementals, are less expensive to service due to familiarity, and promote employee satisfaction which ultimately feeds into the cycle of customer satisfaction.
Determining what drives your customers will help you develop not only creative, but strategic and more successful advertising strategies.
Seems like a pretty simple and basic concept. Every business has at least one person dedicated to ensuring the customer is happy and has a great experience. What some businesses fail to recognize is that each person is responsible for customer service...and the customer is not always who you think it is. If we begin to define a customer as anyone we interact with on a daily basis (from the President of a company to the IT guy) the likelihood for it to carry over to our customers improves.
I am reminded of a situation in which I was stopping in at a company (which will go unnamed) to chat with their Marketing Director. The person behind the desk was unbearably rude and inhospitable. So much so that I decided the company itself wasn't worth my time...and left. Each and every instance of interaction, whether it be with customers, peers, outside reps or vendors is an opportunity to create an evangelist through a personable and enjoyable "experience". Just as someone who has utilized your product or service can generate great buzz for you...anyone whose had a negative experience can generate negative buzz. Its not enough to smile when they walk in the door and shake their hand when they leave. Each step in the process must be conducive to creating a great experience. If your operations arent equipped to create a superior experience over the competition, your cool logo and website designed to bring in swarms of new customers, will provide only a short term bubble.
If You Build It, Nurture It....and They Will Stay
Seems logical. If you say you're going to do something...do it. If you claim to be the best...be the best. If a customer feels that you have somehow not followed through on the promises of your advertising strategy it will cost you dearly. Sure...it could take years for you to feel the impact...just ask Toyota. But once its happened, the recovery is a long, uphill climb of rebuilding your credibility and brand. A comprehensive approach to any branding initiative must include holding up a mirror to how you conduct every day business and the impact it has on your bottom line.
Before you spend enormous amounts of money on that cool new website, the social media strategy and everything else that will solve your business woes....remember...its not enough to build it. You have to be willing to nurture it, believe in it...and become it. Successful brands understand this, some had to learn the hard way, while some acted upon it immediately. Your business must reflect your brand...and vice versa. Building an image through advertising is not enough. Your business must nurture it and live it each day.