If you read my post Brand = Promise + Performance, you may have started to think about what your Brand stands for and what sets it apart. Now, let's consider looking outward. After all, if a Brand is built and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?
In not-so-distant marketing history (remember Hult was founded in 1956, before television was an emerging media), reaching consumers meant connecting through just a few channels: a catalog, store visit, customer service line, radio spot and the list goes on.
However, the number of channels for reaching customers and patients has rapidly increased in recent years (exploded, really). Think about it: when was the last time you made a major (or even not-so-major) purchase decision, whether a product or service, through a single channel?
It's more likely that your decision was made after being reached through a variety of interconnected “touchpoints,” like social media, word of mouth, conducting research online and comparison shopping in the store.
Savvy marketers have increased awareness of the fact that Brands have the potential to connect with consumers at hundreds of points – before the purchase, during the purchase and even after the purchase experience. Consumers are also affected by influencing touchpoints – those that have an indirect impact on Brand perceptions and are often out of the Brand’s control – like word of mouth and social media.
Imagine yourself as a consumer of whatever product or service you're offering. Pretend your company doesn't exist, and imagine yourself seeking that specific product/service as a consumer. What's your first step?
Most likely, you'll opt for a Brand you recognize; a Brand that you've come into contact with before; a Brand you trust. Contrary to what most people think, your contact with a Brand goes well beyond direct advertising. It's every experience that you have with that company. Let's say you're a patient looking for a new doctor. You could potentially come into contact with the doctor’s “Brand” in a plethora of places:
- Influencing Touchpoints: You ask your friends for recommendations on Facebook and browse trusted websites for patient ratings and testimonials. You remember seeing a couple of local doctors on the news recently for their community involvement.
- The Pre-Purchase Experience: You check out the websites of some of the doctors that have piqued your interest. You decide to call one. You’re satisfied with how quickly you are able to make an appointment with the doctor you choose.
- The Purchase Experience: You arrive at the doctor’s office and are greeted with a smiling face at the reception desk. You sit in the bright, comfortable lobby for just a few moments before seeing the doctor. She seems knowledgeable; she takes her time and answers all your questions. On the way out, you stop at reception to pay and notice how organized the desk is. The scheduler, dressed in a uniform with the doctor’s office logo on it, smiles and tells you to have a great day.
- The Post-Purchase Experience: The office staff sends you home with a card containing useful health information. On the card, you see your doctor has a blog and various social media pages, which offer tips and support. The nurse calls after your appointment to check on you, and a couple days later, you receive a handwritten card with a small token of appreciation for becoming a new patient. You go to a popular doctor rating website and share your experience with others.
All of these (and many more) are important Brand touchpoints. Even the invoice you receive weeks later is a touchpoint. The same process applies when you’re looking for something like a new car. You ask your friends and family for recommendations and you look at the websites of local dealerships. Your interactions at the dealership and the follow up calls and mailings after the purchase are all touchpoints you should be utilizing to emphasize your Brand.
Brand Touchpoints: Visiting a New Doctor
It’s a simple and straightforward thought process, but stepping into consumers' shoes is an exercise too many of us neglect when marketing. We forget to become our own customers, our own patients. We don’t consider the consumers’ real, day-to-day concerns. In the process, we lose sight of the most valuable touchpoint opportunities. Each one is a chance to present your Brand and what you stand for. That’s why we work with clients to conduct in-depth touchpoint analyses and help them form cross-functional momentum groups that build and communicate your Brand effectively at every touchpoint.
When considering your customer and patient touchpoints, remember:
- It's not just about Brand exposure/pre-purchase touchpoints: it's also about the purchase experience and post-purchase opportunities for recurring loyalty and Brand advocacy. Don't get so caught up in getting new clientele that you forget to keep the ones you already have.
- All of your touchpoints must consistently reinforce your Claim of Distinction and Evidence of Performance. This critical fact is the heart of why Brand Development (the Hult way) and Integrated Marketing are so effective.
Brand = PROMISE + PERFORMANCE
Keep those customer touchpoints in mind. In a future post, we'll discuss how they, when combined with your Claim of Distinction, can become the common thread that aligns your Brand Strategy with your Business Strategy.
Want a thorough analysis from a professional perspective? Let's touch base and I will put the Hult Team's experience to work for you. We can connect at 309-673-8191 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and together, create a better focus on your Brand.
Catch up on our "Build an Unbeatable Brand" series here: