30 Sep

Satisfying customer’s emotional needs

I like to run. I’m training for a marathon, the Marine Corps in DC – will be my first full this Halloween. While I really enjoy running, I would hardly label myself a runner. For me that’s reserved for, well, real runners. Maybe someday I’ll feel that I qualify for that group, but for now, having only run a handful of half-marathons and local races…I think of my self as a semi-beginner.

There’s this store that I frequent for all my running gear. While it’s somewhat overpriced compared to elsewhere, it has successfully captured me via speaking to my emotional needs.

We all have needs. One is the need to fit into a group – to belong. Understanding consumer purchase behavior involves not only understanding how decisions are made, but also the dynamics that influence purchases. In this case, this store has developed a really effective strategy for reaching out and connecting with people like me who enjoy the sense of belonging they receive from being associated with the community, products and information they provide. I run with a group every Saturday that meets at the store, I’ve attended book signings and referred friends to the store and I’ve made new friends from interacting there as well. It’s motivating to me to be part of such a community, I’ve learned from the elite runners and I’ve tried to motivate the newbies.

One might say that this is “tribal” marketing. Tribal marketing is a strategy that attempts to create social groups or communities that are centered around a product or service. The internet has made this not-so-new concept much more effective. In my running scenario, I receive a monthly email with tips, emails on runs to participate in or events the store is hosting. They are also on Facebook and Twitter. What they’ve done is responded to my emotional needs, where they’ve connected their product or service to their target audience (me) on the most basic emotional level.

So what does all this mean to you?

Don’t ignore your customer’s emotional needs. While what you have can fulfill customer wants and needs – what you’re doing, how you’re doing it that touches on satisfying emotional needs is just as important. The internet has made building and leading tribes easier than ever before. Before the internet, people would have spent a considerable amount of money to accomplish the sense of belonging they can create with a combined brick and mortar with internet approach.

The bottom line is that emotions drive our behavior; the world is driven by emotions. Rational thought leads customers to be interested but it is emotion that sells. If you can play to people’s emotions, you are likely to get the sale when you may otherwise have not.

 

03 Sep

Bad Service Adventure

My family and I were recently guests at a destination that shall remain nameless (Six Flags Great Escape Lodge – oops, was that my inside voice?!). We stayed for one night during the last week of July.

I sensed that it might not meet up the the rave reviews it had received from my cousin who visited in January early on in the adventure. The main attraction, the water park, was fun, but when I went to find a spot for my towels, I found cups, food and packaging debris and towels strewn all over the chairs and on the floor – like a bad college party. While I found it to be concerning, I passed it off because we arrived at the water park at 7pm and stayed until closing at 9pm.

The hallways, our room and the main areas are decorated as you might imagine in Adirondack-influenced lodge decor and are clean, spacious and well designed. After our stint in the pool, a shower was in order. Our shower had clearly not been cleaned as there was hair in it. It was disgusting. When I called for extra pillows, I mentioned this fact and the person on the other end seemed unfazed.

The next morning, we were really excited for the water park and were among the first families waiting for them to open the doors. Before going much further, my 3 year-old needed to use the facilities so we were the first patrons in. It was filthy. There was what looked like dust bunnies that had gotten wet scattered on the floor under the toilets. In the sink there was more hair and none of the soap dispensers had any soap. I wasn’t looking or checking to see if they were up to snuff at this point. I couldn’t avoid noticing. Since it was so early in the day and nobody else had seemingly used the facilities, I thought perhaps they forgot to clean them so I approached a woman in a nearby office at her desk to let her know. It turns out she had Superintendent on her name tag. I kindly interrupted a conversation she was having with another employee to let her know ad she literally freaked out on me. She went on to tell me that she herself had just cleaned that bathroom and that there was no possible way it was dirty. I asked her if she would like me to show her because things can get overlooked. She was unprofessional and inappropriate in her response – and I was standing there with my 3 year-old. Thankfully, she didn’t swear, but she was really confrontational. Then, as we headed back to where we let our towel, I ran into a guy who I noticed had Manager in his title on his name tag. So of course, I had to tell him about the incident with the woman and the cleanliness in the bathroom. He too was rude and responded very differently from what I would have expected. Almost as if he hated his job and really didn’t give a hoot. He didn’t apologize or tell me that he’d look into it (which is all I really wanted).

Finally, we were heading to the water slides and the time was about 9:20am at this point. As I’m walking to the slides, I see something bright orange scattered under a few chairs. At a closer glance, it was Goldfish snacks. Eegads! I was disgusted now and realized that this place was not clean. Now I couldn’t help but notice the filth under the chairs – wrappers, a soggy tissue, a band-aid. Yuck. In the end, we did have a lot of fun. The kids loved it. Thankfully, they use a lot of chlorine. My red burning eyes were evidence of that. It was sanitized at least!

At check out (yes, you had to wait in a long line to check out, as opposed to the more convenient express check out that many hotels offer) I explained my experience to the woman at the desk and like the other employees I had the pleasure of interacting with, she too gave me the distinct impression that she could care less, hated her job and couldn’t wait for the day to end. Not even an apology or an acknowledgment of my concerns and that they would look into it.

I know that was a long drawn out way to say this, but it’s critical to make sure that when customers approach you on any issue, that you come off like you care and appreciate their feedback. You don’t always need to offer a discount for a complaint, but you do need to acknowledge it and make the customer feel that what they say matters – it should. If team members on your staff come off like they don’t like their job, you need to address that too. Not only is it a bad attitude for business, but frankly, life is too short to work somewhere that you don’t like.

 

01 Sep

Branding

Are you looking for your business to stand out from the rest of the pack or blend in? Do you want to distinguish your business from the competition? If you answered yes to either of the above questions, then developing an identity for your business through branding is the essential element you are probably missing.

By now, you’ve heard about branding. Many are confused by the term , but the bottom line is that through branding, you can establish an identity that will distinguish your business from your competitions. Consumers have so many choices before them. Positioning your product or business helps you stand out in the minds of your target audience. Well-developed and promoted brands make product positioning efforts more effective. When a customer is exposed to a brand they will develop images or emotions associated with of the benefits (or problems – if they had a bad experience) they get from using that brand. These associations help businesses gain a competitive advantage. For example, if a problem arises, a customer breaks a gold chain for example, in looking for a solution will they may automatically think of your brand as being the company that offers the solution to the problem?

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

Developing a brand is not something you can do overnight. In fact, it takes incorporating branding strategies into your overall marketing strategy and truly understanding your business goals and objectives to be successful.

A very basic explanation of branding is the use of a brand name and a brand mark. The brand name is the name we as a consumer would use when discussing a product, a group of products or a service. The brand mark is a design element that is associated with the product or service. It can be a symbol (a logo), a character, or even a sound, that provides the necessary stimuli for consumer recognition for the product.

More than visual, a brand is a vibe or a promise. It’s not a person (people die). It’s a feeling that people get about your business. The visual elements of branding reinforce the brand.

A brand is something that will be with your company for a long time. It’s like an identification for your business. Once you’ve decided on a look or a strategy, it’s not something to want to change. You want to build a brand that will exist for years to come. Making changes will compromise your brand, your customer’s recognition and your image. Make smart decisions int he beginning.

A good brand communicates a message to the target audience clearly and concisely. It helps to solidify customer loyalty via an emotional connection and by establishing your credibility.

If you want to be successful in branding you must fully understand the needs and wants of your current and potential customers. Integrating your brand strategies on any occasion you have to contact with existing and potential clients reinforces your brand.

It’s important to research and define to effectively build your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. A good brand is not something you want to be without.