Monthly Archives: August 2009

Customer Service Doesn’t End – Part 2


Last week I wrote about the importance of having your employees positively represent your brand – even if they are on break.  I highlighted a negative experience I had at Starbucks with some employees on break who decided to smoke near patrons when an alternative was available.

Yesterday I had an interesting experience with another popular brand, one that provided a nice counterpoint to last week’s topic.

I was at a neighborhood CVS yesterday when I approached the check-out line at the same time as a Best Buy employee (though nowhere near a Best Buy) who immediately let me take the place at the front of the line.

When another register opened, that same person let someone else go ahead to the register.

Those small gestures made me feel good about Best Buy and has me thinking about Best Buy in a positive light.

It’s amazing what a positive experience — even an unrelated one — can have on your brand.

Remember, your employees are always representing your brand.



Filed under Brand Position, Customer Marketing

Customer Service Doesn’t End – Even On Break

imagesEmployees are always representing your brand as long as they have on your uniform or are at your place of work. They play the most important role in creating a brand experience that is consistent with how you want your brand to be perceived.

One company that works hard to manage its brand is Starbucks.  One key element of the Starbucks brand is creating an environment in which its patrons can enjoy coffee.

Imagine my surprise when two Starbucks employees took their break to have a cigarette, and instead of sitting on the side of the patio in which no one was sitting – and smoking was allowed – they decided to sit near myself and other patrons.

I am not sure what offended me more – the smoke or the ignorance of these employees about the message they were sending to customers at a time when Starbucks is struggling to keep its customers.

Being a marketer and brand advocate, I decided it was the latter.

When your employees interact with the public, they are your brand.  If your truck cuts someone off the road, the person you cut off will remember.  If an employee spits gum on the ground before walking in for their shift – the customer will remember.

Branding starts at home so make sure your employees understand their role in making your brand and your business a success.

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Filed under Brand Position, Customer Marketing

How Credit Unions Can Benefit Your Bottom Line

recession-proof-business-300x300Does your company belong to a credit union?

Even with most credit unions moving to community charters where virtually anyone can join one, there remains additional value by being a member company.

  1. Becoming a member company costs your company nothing
  2. Your employees get access to loan rates that are typically lower than what banks offer, while savings rates are typically higher
  3. Credit unions tend to be more stable than banks
  4. They provide the customer service of a community bank
  5. They typically have all of the services of a national bank
  6. They are a terrific marketing opportunity for your company

A terrific marketing opportunity for your company?

It’s quite simple.  Credit unions tend to have very loyal members.  Members who have “gulped the credit union kool-aid” are evangelists for their credit union.  This halo covers the member companies as well.

The opportunity exists for you to reach out to your credit union business development contact and tell them you would like to market your services to the other credit union members or member companies.

Tell them you want to provide credit union members a special member offer or discount which can be marketed through their emails, on their website and/or newsletter.

The cost of this marketing is minimal, if it costs anything at all, and it gives you access to thousands of people you may not have reached before.

You both win when you gain access to potential new customers.

If you are already a credit union member company, you are halfway there. If not, find one who can best service your needs.  To find credit unions in your area check out the NCUA.

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Filed under recession marketing

Rooms To Go and BrandsMart Co-Habitate

Ca$h for CouchesSince Ca$h for Couches didn’t have the right cache Rooms To Go (a value furniture retailer) and BrandsMart (a value electronics retailer) recently launched a co-promotion where your purchase at Rooms To Go gets you a gift card to BrandsMart and vice-versa.

Both companies saw an opportunity to tap into each other’s brand equity and similar target audience to create an incentive for customers to buy – which is difficult as people continue to keep their wallets shut.

Instead of giving people money to purchase new furniture ala Cash for Clunkers, Rooms To Go and BrandsMart provided people the opportunity to finish a room via a new computer to go with that new office desk or a new kitchen set to complemented by a new refrigerator.

Like these two retailers, most businesses can benefit from an alliance, the key is selecting the right one.

When choosing a company to align with ask these questions:

  • Do you have complementary products/services?
  • Do you share a similar audience?
  • Are your brands in sync? (i.e. are you both value brands or luxury brands)
  • Do you service the same geographic area?
  • Does the complementary brand benefit your brand?
  • Is the revenue potential equitable?

Once you have decided to align and share customers remember these steps I published in my December 1, 2008 entry regarding Sharing Customers.

1. Reputation – Make sure the company you partner with has a reputation you want to be associated with.

2. Courtesy – Let the company you are partnering with make the introduction to their customers and vice-versa.  It’s just good customer etiquette.

3. Incentive – Provide an exclusive offer to these new customers to encourage them to try your services.

4. Recognition – If you are going to market directly to their customers, make sure you merge your customer information so you don’t market to their customers who may also be your customers.

5. Tracking – Make sure you are able to track which new customers come from their customer base so you know if the partnership is equitable.

Now is the time to be creative, take risks and try new things in the name of business, however, when you do, make sure you stay true to your brand.

Following the steps outlined here will help you do that.

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Filed under Marketing Tactics

Using Your Brand To Make Decisions

yardstickWhat role does your brand play in making decisions about your business?

Using your brand to help make decisions is critical to keeping your brand relevant and consistent.

Bonnie Hammer, USA Network’s CEO, uses her “brand filter” to help her determine which shows to greenlight. USA Network’s tagline is “characters welcome” so every show must have strong characters that will connect with their audience.

According to a recent Newsweek article, “when considering scripts, Hammer and her team ask a routinized series of questions: Does the show have a fun sensibility? Does it have a “blue sky” tone of hopefulness? Does it revolve around an “aspirational,” if quirky, lead character with a moral and ethical center? Potential shows are scored based on how closely they match these dictates; only high scorers make it on air.”

So how do you create your own “brand filter”?

  • Have a strong understanding of your brand promise (that expectation you set whenever someone comes in contact with your brand).
  • Create and manage your brand personality.  For example, Burger King created a subservient chicken website that reflects their edgy and cool image; in contrast, Chick-Fil-A, known for family values, hosts “dress like a cow” day instead.
  • Review all of your marketing touchpoints to ensure they fulfill the brand promise and are delivered in a way that expresses your brand personality.
  • Analyze any marketing opportunities (remember, everything is a marketing opportunity) against your brand promise and brand personality.  For example, you aren’t going to find USA airing I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here any time soon.

Following these four steps will make it easier to make marketing decisions, enhance your brand and ultimately your business.

If your brand promise and personality are in order, you are ahead of the game.  If not, what are you waiting for?  Doing so will pay dividends.


Filed under Brand Position