Once upon a time… is the classic opening to a story. Anticipation builds for a conflict between good and evil. That process is how storytelling works. Unfortunately, in business separating heroes from villains can be very tricky. Resolutions have unforeseen consequences. It’s all fun and games until the animal rights group starts picketing Little Red Riding Hood’s Apparel Shop because her supply chain unfairly abused the wolf. So, she puts on her marketing hood, and quickly determines a communication strategy to maintain customer loyalty. She must figure out what to tell her audience, when to tell them, and how to tell them.
When To Tell?
Early and often is a good communications strategy. Effective marketing quickly moves to correct situations when priorities or events change. Furthermore, effective marketing engages the audience, instead of broadcasts to an audience. Messaging must be bilateral. The marketplace requires a conversation, not a sermon. Optimally, marketing communicates solutions to prospects who are ready to take action. And, prospects act quickly! Aligning promises and execution when customers experience the seller is essential. The widget must work. When it does not, the seller must quickly tell the customer why and when it will work. Bad news travels fast. Great marketing must travel faster!
Clever messages are good for generating trial. To generate new clients, referrals are more effective with memorable messages. Repeat customers generate more revenue as a result of memorable execution. Whether the product requires delivery, or an experience, it must meet growing expectations. Effective marketers consistently deliver on these expanding promises. And, when does that promised experience have to be recreated? It must happen every single time!
How To Tell?
Whether customers align with a product through social media, or by displaying a specific lifestyle, customers want to be part of sellers’ story. A hungry customer wants to eat according to promised expectations. Fast food can be mediocre, but it can never be slow! Likewise, cute shoes better create envy among customers’ peer groups. Clearly, customers want honesty. But, to separate from the competition, sellers must provide memorable transactions. Vivid visual and verbal images tell winning stories that are repeated. Then, customers return.
Presently, prospects and customers want to participate in the marketing and sales experience. Furthermore, they want recognition as part of the brand. Apparel brands continue to become more audacious, because consumers want to be clear in their brand identification. Technology brands are so eager to communicate innovation they no longer count straight. Version nine has become a relic of a landline era. To engage audiences to rush to become customers, anticipating trends means sellers are too late. In apparel and technology, giving customers tools to design the brand’s future creates engagement, and the only shot at customer longevity.
Successful marketing relies strongly on timing and effective channels. Messaging must go out timely to connect with the audience such that the audience is willing and able to receive it. Then, successful vendors listen. Effective marketing engages audiences to take action by purchasing, then contributing to the branding. Winning sellers communicate verbally, technologically, and experientially such that brand storytelling is now a cooperative effort with customers. Engaging an audience is a two-way street connected by trust. Sell to the marketplace accordingly.
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC