Followers, Customers, Value – What’s First?

BusinessmanAgainstTheGrain

In a world with hundreds of channels and thousands of websites, how does anyone ever decide on any single entertainment option? Marketers endure the same dilemma in establishing communication with their marketplace. Marketing campaigns have innumerable options to connect with influencers, prospects, and customers. Determining who to talk to first is just as important as what to stay. So much media, such limited budget! Consequently, the marketer’s key question is, “Which communication channel delivers the best revenue results?”. Setting priorities is a great strategy, deciding the best path to maximize value is much, much trickier.

Connection
Tactically, connecting with a designated target audience is a proven first step. Realize that connecting requires two-way communication. For instance, readers accept information in written form. Alternatively, talkers thrive in interpersonal exchanges and best receive information verbally. Something as simple as understanding the specific industry’s acronyms and buzz words can dictate effective communication. Regardless of what media a marketer uses, successful communication depends on the listener being able to receive information in the same manner the speaker delivers.

However, connection gets harder when communicating a similar message across multiple media. Explaining superior benefits during a sales call is much different than on an Instagram video. A message as straightforward as communicating pricing can easily be received much differently across any two channels. The message must be consistent with the connection to create the right emotional bond so that both facts and credibility transfer from the speaker to the receiver. Benefits may be universal, but messaging gets very specific regarding prospects. Connection demands sending information such that it is received properly.

Value
Superior communication helps transform followers into prospects. Nevertheless, business only happens upon transitioning prospects to customers. Value dictates this step. Superior marketing uses various communication channels to ensure that the journey concludes with a mutually satisfying deal. Fundamentally, every customer wants more satisfaction from their purchase, than they would have enjoyed had they spent their money elsewhere. Whether acquiring commercial raw materials or personal luxury items, the value comes down to doing better because of the purchase, instead of holding onto the money. Consequently, the seller must input as much utility into the product or service as possible.

Superior marketing establishes terms so that sellers benefit from that dynamic. The multi-media component means that consistent, or at least complimentary, messaging resonates across airwaves, through websites, and via influencers so that diverse buyers can emotionally justify buying. Marketing across various media works best when consistent themes inspire specific audiences to extract individual benefits. Communicating exclusivity appeals to a specific target market regardless of the media. That customer simply wants to be satisfied that they have something that most people do not. This target, regardless of marketing channel, wishes to buy obvious evidence of their superiority.

Takeaway
Regarding successful marketing strategies, what gets targeted first: followers, customers, or values? The specific target audience depends on how effectively the seller can communicate with them. Any marketer who answers the question, “Who is my target customer?”, with the answer, “Everyone”, fundamentally loses! Multi-media marketing helps solve that riddle. The target customer is no longer a person, it is a mindset. The magic is in the message and how it reaches the individual. Marketers that communicate consistent attributes to an audience who clearly hears what they personally find attractive will succeed. Consequently, effective messaging uses superior storytelling so that each customer hears exactly what they want. Then, they are willing to buy.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Brand Stands Alone?

Stand Alone Skyscraper

Why do jingles stay in customers’ heads for years? How do families ignore price or quality because of branding? So many questions, so many dollars relying on these answers. Brand loyalty can easily morph into cultural tradition. In some parts of the country, buying a Chevy truck instead of a Ford can jeopardize an inheritance! Fundamentally, great branding leads to extreme behaviors in customers, and consequently, more dollars into corporate coffers! Beyond features and benefits, buying decisions ultimately reveal cultural identity and credible influencers. So, how does a marketer develop such brand loyalty and emotional connectivity?

Declare Value
Products and services deliver specific sets of features, solving certain problems in the marketplace. Business occurs when someone pays for that outcome. Brands create value when that marketplace anticipates satisfaction and believes the purchase will deliver it. Value is obvious when premium products have high prices because of the purchase’s emotional gratification. But, it is equally true at lower prices, when basic satisfaction is enough. Being cheapest can be a recognized value!

But, no product regardless of cheapness relies on price as the only reason to buy. Quality can drop to low, low levels. Ultimately, even minimal value can result simply from endorsements or clever marketing. While celebrity endorsements create widespread buzz, a local presence reinforcing community loyalty serves the same goal. In local supermarket aisles, a generic cola has to communicate at some level that its bargain basement price provides better satisfaction per dollar than Coke. At the bare minimum, “No-name” cola is brown, sugary and fizzy enough.

Continue Communication
Low prices do not mean that products get to claim their value. The marketplace declares value! Brands simply get to manipulate prices to reflect value. Take the example of low-end cigarettes in urban communities. Superior benefits and attributes become irrelevant in the face of feeding a nicotine fix or identifying with the popular brand on the block. Essentially, trend-setting influencers, advocates and images dictate purchase choices and that reality exists completely up the value chain.

In certain categories of consumer brands, regional preferences favor specific competitors. In the northeastern United States, taste, sweetness, freshness are irrelevant characteristics in who dominates the donut market. Krispy Kreme empirically wins handily in these key characteristics, but Dunkin’ Donuts dominates the cash register. Local tastes defies the tongue in this competitive category. Image makers, channel partners, and credible influencers have effectively communicated better attributes associated with Dunkin’ Donuts. The brand embraces the story, the marketing channels perpetuate it such that targeted consumers believe it.

Takeaways
The question remains, “Who needs partners when they have a great brand?” The answer continues to be, “Everyone!” Branding extends beyond sellers shouting their superiority from rooftops. Effectiveness requires building trust through intermediaries and delivering value at every point in the sales channel. Guaranties must be honored. Upgrades must be easily available. Options must be communicated. Beyond the point of sale, every part of the customer experience must be seamlessly executed. Branding is not what is said. It is what is done! Businesses at all levels build brands representing their persona to the marketplace. Ongoing sales success demands every step of the customer experience, whether through collaboration or a singular value chain, executes and communicates directly to the customer. Branding takes teamwork. And, earned trust leads to premium profits.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Business Coaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Network Is Hard Work

Efficient-International-Negotiation

Everyone notices the great schmoozers in the middle of a crowd roaring with laughter. Bystanders are quick to praise their networking skills. Their storytelling holds audiences hostage. They always have the right punch line at the right time. They are quick to make key introductions between influential professionals who secretly wanted to connect. On the golf course or the annual conference’s after-hours event, they look like a million bucks, every time.

However, that schmoozer is fooling the crowd. The best networkers connect buyers with sellers. They access people and products that solve very specific problems. Master networkers religiously provide extraordinary service in every deal where they participate. Most importantly, great networkers create unexpected value between professionals once they get involved. She works hard to positions herself to enjoy rewards that result directly from her actions and relationships. So, how do mere mortals get these skills?

Do The Job
Between making connections and contributing resources, great networkers fundamentally deliver solutions. As business professionals, they realize that work is necessary to create value. Furthermore, they understand that great work results from great preparation. Somebody has to get the job done! Results matter. They simply focus on doing it first. Preparation means that they contribute insight in carefully targeted situations. They know their niche. Besides understanding exactly what happened regarding the latest industry intelligence, they focus on who made it happen.

Additionally, the job involves intimately knowing the competitive landscape. Then, they insert themselves by congratulating, influencing, and endorsing colleagues and customers at every opportunity. Opportunity does not magically find great networkers. Opportunities follow bread crumbs that savvy professionals drop at every occasion. Considering that business development professionals are responsible for securing revenue, the most prosperous ones participate across the value chain. They personally know about sources, raw goods, distributors, and buyers within their industry. Doing the job at this level clearly requires extra work. It then delivers extra rewards!

Tell The Story
To apply such expertise to so many stakeholders, master networkers always communicate effectively and efficiently. Storytelling is their weapon to communicate facts and emotions to audiences that matter most. Consequently, the superior networker pays enormous attention to detail. These details have to reach other influencers who facilitate transactions. Consequently, their self-promotion, referral promotion, and industry promotion create a rising tide that lifts many boats.

A master networker tells stories that are well received and circulated, because he includes multiple characters who have individual incentives to share the story. Great stories benefit from invested audiences! When more people both participate and circulate the story, greater reach and more valuable results happen. Networkers who excel in creating value maximize success because they continuously include advocates and beneficiaries. The best way to create enormous value is to be sure that enough people benefit from transactions reputationally or financially. Get the audience participating in the story!

Takeaways
This network is hard work. You schmooze, you lose! However, professionals who lock in on delivering tangible results create opportunities to continue building rewards. Reputational growth equates to stronger personal branding, and consequently more opportunities for success. Assist in building other individual’s professional reputations. Give credit liberally. The contacts that benefit from the relationship know who really was responsible. Then, encourage them to join and contribute to the next big deal as an insider!

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grabbing Money or Building Value

Money

Barnum’s American Museum entertained millions of young and old customers across America throughout the mid 1800’s with brand new attractions and freakish animals. P.T. Barnum, the outlandish owner, placed signs on specific doors that said, “This Way to the Egress”. Curious customers eagerly approached the door, and subsequent doors with the same sign until they found themselves outside of the museum. An “egress” is another name for “exit”. Consequently, anyone wanting to return to the museum had to pay another admission fee! Understandably, the value proposition of this practice was poorly received.

Money Grab
Grabbing customers’ money through trickery is a death sentence in today’s business world. Information, opinions, and bad news travels too fast. Customers have options and substitutes for most products and services. Consequently, customers who believe that they were mistreated, will take the egress and head toward a competitor. Yet, some businesses continue to dupe customers to buy before they fully understand. The value that business creates disappears as fast as each fooled customer churns.

Re-establishing trust is hard once customer credibility is violated. Businesses focused on the money grab eventually spend too much time and money finding new customers instead of taking care of the ones they have. Even the business’ internal and external storytelling suffers because the message continuously changes as marketers reinvent shady claims. An exciting product, or a dazzling service may capture the marketplace’s imagination initially. But, the marketplace will report poor performance and the damaged brand will have difficulty recovering. Ultimately, customer satisfaction becomes non-existent, marketing costs soar, and doors close in the money grab world.

Money Hold
When sellers build relationships on purpose along with delivering a desirable product or service, the seller benefits from the money hold. Consider an exceptional contractor who transforms kitchens into magical palaces of cooking and conversation. Since the contractor has demonstrated credibility and cultivated a miracle-worker reputation, buyers gladly pay a deposit to get started. Besides establishing trust in the marketplace, his longevity indicates that this contractor is responsible. As a responsible service-provider, the miracle-working contractor earns the privilege to hold money at the beginning of the transaction. As evidenced by his ability to sustain service delivery excellence, the belief is that he also holds onto it well on the back-end.

The money hold mindset reinforces a reputation for excellence with the ability to benefit from referrals. Success encourages subcontractors to want to work with him. Also, suppliers want to attach their reputation to his brand by offering favorable terms in their selling relationship. The value multiplies throughout the subcontractor’s supply chain resulting in superior growth. Essentially, the money hold creates a more positive and sustainable business environment. The value is revealed in the final product, and in the contractor’s brand.

Takeaways
Ultimately, in business, the money will move. Rewards grow according to the level of service provided. Consequently, marketing that emphasizes superior service creates greater opportunities to do good and do well. Service-based branding and superior execution makes a difference in the rewards that a business enjoys. Hyper growth is exciting. But, enduring growth builds better business. Grabbing money attracts a lot of business attention. Holding money builds fortunes. Business success ultimately comes down to making money and keeping it.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Brand Said What?

Business Secrets Whisper

During an overly animated marketing presentation with a sweat-dripping speaker, an interesting branding question surfaced: “When does your brand take a break?” The presenter stopped dead in his tracks. Took a deep breath and screamed, “NEVER”, before returning to attack his audience. Truly, a brand has several characteristics. It can be liked, or hated. It can be clever, or boring. An effective brand projects assorted human characteristics because its purpose is to speak for the business, person, or organization even in their absence. But, how does a marketer really know what their brand is saying?

Who You Are
An effective brand communicates for a specific business, organization, or person. The “who” may not be a literal person. For example, a celebrity chef has a brand that speaks on his behalf. The chef’s cooking style indicates a certain background. The media channel that broadcasts the show says something about the target audience. Yet, the individual is more complex than the brand. Customers are less interested in the person and more fixated on the image that the person projects. Raving fans want to identify with the celebrity chef because they want people to connect them to the celebrity’s good taste and personal style.

A brand speaks for a business such that it continuously sends information, and reinforce their market appeal. Social media images can flood worldwide audiences around the clock. Even inanimate businesses can project their personality under those circumstances. Essentially, the brand communicates an ongoing set of opinions, images and sound bites so that customers, fans, and pundits can piggyback on the attention the brand craves. A winning brand projects a personality that attracts attention leading to growth. The public then decides how they want to engage it.

What You Deliver
Personality is not the only attribute attracting business to a given brand. A well- executed brand communicates how well an audience values its benefits. At 7:45 AM on a Friday, a favorite coffee house delivers its signature brew just fast enough for an assistant manager to arrive at the office at 8:10 for an 8:00 team meeting. However, the assistant manager knows that the boss has publicly acknowledged his addiction to their dark roast. So, when the employee arrives at the meeting with two cups of dark roast, both he and the delighted boss understand that five more minutes of grace period remained because the boss now had his fix. Brand loyalty results from delivering on emotional promises.

Great brands deliver satisfaction, experiences, reliability, timeliness, durability, or cool points to loyal customers. Customers who ally themselves with such brands willingly pay for the privilege of that connection. Ask your favorite Nordstrom shopper. Such brands clearly tell buyers what to expect, then faithfully deliver it. The only part of the buying process that is more important than what a particular brand means, is when the customer experiences the brand doing what it said.

Takeaways
Acknowledging a brand’s personality is the first step for a marketer to harness its power. A meaningful brand’s character involves the ability to make an emotional connection to the customer. Notice how happy children look when entering Disneyland. The relationship has been established before starting the memorable experience. Can a customer imagine buying a Mercedes-Benz without expecting to be pampered at every dealership visit for scheduled maintenance? Successful brands communicate, then deliver. Whether through messaging or actions, the brand speaks louder than any singular purchase. Successful brands must communicate clearly AND deliver consistently, or accept being disconnected like an AOL email account.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Success Abhors a Vacuum

Businessman vacuum 3

“Success leaves clues.” is a popular statement attributed to Tony Robbins, a legendary motivator, trainer and success guru. The point encourages his audience to be intentional in identifying goals and to pursue them relentlessly. From a business growth perspective, the quote also inspires immediate action toward specific results. It suggests solving the mystery of success, now! If business gains are available, then successful people will find them. Furthermore, tangible milestones toward desired outcomes appear once proper pursuit begins. In the same vein as “nature abhors a vacuum”, success becomes attainable upon starting proper steps toward specific goals. Accomplishments are ready to fill the void.

Connect
Success does not happen in a vacuum primarily because it is a communal endeavor. While narcissists will quickly point out their individual accomplishments that led to their victories, the reality is that communal efforts create most substantial wins. Referral networks, market researchers, operational support are all examples of contributors for most conspicuous business development victories. Positioning such resources to contribute to the desired outcome is an essential skill that winners master. Furthermore, the skill’s core involves forging healthy relationships to facilitate successful growth.

The most effective relationships germinate beyond a singular organization. By cultivating favors throughout an industry or social circle success fundamentally benefits from establishing a network that is emotionally invested in an individual’s success. Mentors, referral partners, social connections are examples of relationships that pour into one’s accomplishments. Furthermore, the willingness and proven ability to reciprocate fuels ongoing contributions toward significant, future gains. The winning skills go beyond systems and product knowledge. Success is based on building a personal brand based on delivering on promises and generating value through consistent, measurable execution.

Collaborate
Additionally, success results from whom the successful professional attracts. An old networking saying teaches, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you!” If “Success leaves clues”, then it is worthwhile to have a team in place to gather them. Deliberately engage relationships to share and achieve mutual benefits. Communally, be active learners in specific disciplines. Whether it requires being active in digesting industry research, or sustaining visibility in a chosen discipline, remain faithful to increase continuous understanding of targeted professional skills.

Enforce a personal brand that reveals superior depth in industry-specific knowledge. Demonstrate success characteristics based on accessibility and camaraderie. The purpose is to be recognized for being competent enough to possess and confident enough to share proven tactics that produce results.
Furthermore, project a brand that demonstrates personal service. By sharing individual capacity to help others in social environments, it reinforces a reputation for being service-oriented in professional environments. And, outstanding service delivery is always a valuable business development differentiator. Actions tell a better story than all the witty, self-serving anecdotes that one can possibly memorize.

Takeaways
Deliberately fill the vacuum with successes. Consistently perform tasks that lead to measurable outcomes. Furthermore, routinely acquire new knowledge so that the filled space is consistently growing. Actively expand knowledge into tangential industries and personal interests. Contribute to a broader community to identify new innovations to resolve old problems. Most importantly, share personal growth experiences with valued connections. Whether it is attending team training seminars or joining a new board of directors, facilitate growth within specified inner circles so that personal influence and accountability increase exponentially. Expand individual capacity. Ongoing success depends on it.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Your Story Becomes Your Brand

What are they saying about you

A promising young business launches, ready to revolutionize its space! Rushing to get to market, it experienced an epic fail at firmly establishing its branding. Recognizing the priority of generating awareness, finding customers, establishing new operations, and paying bills, the oversight is understandable. Nevertheless, upon deciding to de-prioritize branding, the result was a weak start with poorly presented verbiage and images representing the brand. The consequences included limited awareness and questionable authenticity. Without building a strong, intentional brand, the business lacked credibility, choking on its own potential, because a consistent story failed to evolve.

Storytelling
The relationship between branding and storytelling is birthed from the understanding that a brand speaks to an audience in the business’ absence. An entrepreneur upon assuming ultimate responsibility needs processes to optimize deliberate messaging into the marketplace. Effective branding delivers that need. However, the brand must be thoughtfully and intentionally prepared to perform excellently. No reasonable entrepreneur would put a sales professional in the marketplace without proper preparation. Likewise, intelligent entrepreneurs do not send a brand into the marketplace without a specific message.

To communicate that message, effective storytelling must be part of the initial integrated marketing communication process. Tell the story across multiple channels so that social media, in-store images, and face-to-face messaging are consistent and memorable. Beyond specific phrasing to identify the business’ brand in a crowd, remarkable anecdotes must be infused into the enterprise’s culture. Modern customers will more likely flock to a retail outlet because the founder photobombed a political event than because they distributed a Groupon. A successful, distinct marketplace presence must result from emotional connections that make prospects yearn to become customers, and then tell their friends why. Fundamentally, effective storytelling tugs at prospects’ heartstrings to inspire opening the purse strings.

Authenticity
While awesome stories gather attention and connect packs of raving fans, the emotional bond demands honesty to sustain itself. To galvanize a community to create business momentum, stories must be true! Thanks to Yelp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others, bad news based on lies move faster than pre-orders for the latest iPhone release at 12:01 AM. Unfortunately, good experiences need more time to catch up. To win that race, each opportunity to deliver as promised must be successful in order to withstand the dumpster fire of bad news ignited from a singular negative interaction.

Beyond emphasizing positive and truthful stories, authenticity requires consistency. In-N-Out Burger does not have to be fast. It must be consistent. Their lines remain long because customers will endure lack of speed, since that was not part of the deal. They are willing to wait slightly longer to get flavorful happiness in a bun, as expected. In-N-Out’s authenticity features the pleasant service interaction, cleanliness, menu’s simplicity, and not-so-secret non-menu options. To maximize that experience, customers must be an insider to the story. In-N-Out’s reward results from genuinely meeting expectations during the purchase experience. Their story works because the brand delivers!

Takeaways
Effective storytelling is successful upon incorporating emotional connections between sellers and buyers in their relationship. In business, facilitating enduring connections reveals the difference between fads and legends. Classic stories transcend cultures and generations because they spark human feelings between the speaker and the listener. Furthermore, when success brings scrutiny, the authentic story that consistently delivers good feelings based on the business reputation becomes even more powerful. Let the good-feeling story be factual and opportunities for the business to rebound emerge even quicker. Ultimately, entrepreneurial success happens when incredible products align directly with emotional experiences. Consequently, authentic storytelling becomes the fuel to accelerate unforgettable branding and enduring success.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment