Preparing for a ‘brand direct world’

Aug 02 , 2017

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

Most companies and organizations have both a website and social media presence. But not everyone considers the self-selection aspect of information and news that relates to the interests of their target audiences. It is not only important to know who your customers and prospects are, but you must also be in tune with their interests in order for your content to “be selected.”

Define the purpose for your brand

There are many articles discussing brand purpose. An online search will bring you to books like Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why.” You’ll find big brands like Nike, whose purpose is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” To Nike, everyone is an athlete. But you will also find some lesser-known companies with important brand purposes, like The Body Shop’s “Enrich, Not Exploit.” The answer to the question of how do you define or refine your organization’s purpose may not lie with you. Your customers know, better than Google Analytics, the real reason why they are doing business with you, and they are the first place you should go to find out both the main reasons and the nuances of the “why.”

Determine how your brand makes the world better

Price-conscious as they are, millennials will pay more for an environmentally friendly product or for a product made by a company they feel is helping the world be a better place. Discovering what issues are important to your customers and employees can help guide your philanthropy and increase your acceptance among your most important audience targets.

Include customer research, employees and stakeholders

Good customer and employee research can give you the tools you need to go “brand direct” and write a content plan that will get searched and read by your targets. Using an Agile planning methodology will ensure that employees and stakeholders have an opportunity to contribute, own and become evangelists for your online content plan. Armed with customer research, getting these groups together to determine the approach and success criteria will set the foundation for your “brand direct” program.

Apply familiar concepts in new ways

Describe personas for each audience category, create message maps with brand voice phrases to communicate core messages to different personas or stakeholders. They can be digitally templated for the media and messaging that need to resonate for social channels and audiences. Determine content categories interesting to your audience groups and in-house experts in charge of creating blogs and reporting or commenting on events consistent with customer interests and brand purpose.

Program alerts and reputation management software keep brands aware of the conversation online. Monitoring brand reviews is a must today. Companies that rely on daily purchasing from their customer base know the pain that one bad review can cause. Answer bad reviews immediately in a caring, thoughtful way and in your brand voice. Encourage reviews from your customers on a regular basis to show your value.

Build a transparent wall of solid content

Transparency supports legitimacy of your brand purpose. A solid track record of helpful content directed at your customer base is an important part of the transparency with believability equation.

Preparing your organization for a “brand direct world” requires top management commitment to monitoring and alignment of brand purpose to customer interests in your content and offerings. The result can increase brand acceptance, help avoid disruptive competition and enhance credibility – a competitive advantage.

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