A New Communications Model to strengthen the bond between your customers and your brand
Are you losing too many buyers from your franchise every year? Even brands with formal Loyalty and Relationship Marketing programs are watching many of their buyers leave the franchise at an alarming rate. What is a brand to do? If you find yourself in a similar situation, ask yourself if you are investing enough in commitment-building communications designed specifically to deepen the bond between your customer and your brand.
This article outlines a new communications-based approach to delivering Commitment Content to help raise the level of commitment that more buyers have to your brand. The framework works to leverage Loyalty Moments, spikes of interest in your brand that come from effective advertising and other marketing campaigns, and then close the loop to immediately validate that heightened interest by delivering a mix of About-The-Brand information. This approach enhances Content Marketing and current Loyalty and Relationship marketing, adding value to any element in your marketing mix that successfully generates interest with a buyer or prospect.
We have a Loyalty Program, isn’t that enough?
In most cases, the answer is NO!
Brands have access to tools and technology to reach consumers, track purchase behavior, house databases and run complex loyalty programs. But too many brand managers have a false sense of security, thinking that because they have a loyalty program in place the job of keeping a buyer is covered. Even brands with formal loyalty programs find they are losing too many of their buyers, even their heaviest buyers each year. Waiting for customers to enroll in a program is too late. Communicating with members about loyalty program policies, status levels, point totals, redemption offers, etc. doesn’t do much to strengthen the relationship between a heavy buyer and your brand. You need to do more.
Do you have a loyalty program in place and find that you are still frustrated by any of the following? …
• Are you seeing churn rates of more than 50% each year, even among your heaviest buyers?
• Are you finding that your Loyalty initiatives do not drive incremental volume?
• Are you wondering why your program didn’t produce positive returns?
• Are you worried that you are just training customers to wait for the next coupon?
Before you blame the economy, your program, technology, the consumer, your vendor, or your team, ask yourself if you see an opportunity to design a loyalty communication stream that will enhance your efforts among buyers. Chances are you can find opportunities to add relevant brand content that resonate specifically with brand hand-raisers and buyers to deepen their connection with your brand.
What should we say? When should we say it?
If you’re convinced you need to add more commitment content into your communications mix, you might be asking yourself what to do next. In fact, Content Marketing is a hot topic these days, and many marketers are asking this question. The key is to develop about-the-brand messaging that goes deeper than your base brand advertising or messaging that generated the initial interest in your product. Seeing your advertising one more time won’t do much to deepen a buyer’s feelings of commitment toward your brand, even if those ads appear in a relationship-building magazine or newsletter filled with entertaining content.
You must go deeper. Take buyers inside your brand quickly. Reinforce the “reasons to believe” behind your brand promise. Share some of the science behind the brand. Tell stories about the manufacturing facility and processes. Describe how customers are involved in new product development. Introduce customers and people who work at the company.
A Brand Commitment Content Map is a valuable tool I help clients develop to guide the dissemination of commitment-building content. It maps opportunities to share about-the-brand content across a variety of touchpoints. The goal is to help more buyers move as quickly as possible along the Commitment Curve: from being aroused, to validating their interest, to becoming solidly committed to a brand.
But I can’t talk about the brand. Customers won’t listen.
Talking directly about the brand might be counterintuitive to your current content marketing approach. But research shows that when a buyer or prospect has been aroused, his or her interest in your brand is heightened and wants to learn more about your brand, right then. Many want to validate that their emotional response can be rationally supported with proof. New research on how the brain works supports the complex relationship between emotions and logic. The brain needs a balanced mix of detail. (But this is the topic for another article.)
Don’t let the window of opportunity close and miss the opportunity to validate that arousal you worked so hard to create. Provide brand proof immediately after generating arousal, and beyond.