In the course of 2012, we heard quite a few CEOs and managers say they really like the idea of “listening more to customers”, of becoming more “customer-centric” and of wanting to “excel in customer intimacy.”
That’s a good start because thanks to the digital age, customers have become very powerful: they can make or break the image of your company without any effort.
What do you need to make customer-centricity work?
- Empathy to have a good understanding of all the moments that really count to your customer
- Imagination to give them exactly what they do not yet realize they will be wanting to die for once it becomes available.
How? Don’t talk, but listen. Really listen. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Involve them in everything you do to collect new insights. And turn great ideas into action.
That is why we wish you a great 2013, full of empathy and imagination!
1. Stop broadcasting
Stop broadcasting, Broadcasting is the main ingredient of old school brand building.
2. Start brand being
Start being your brand and living your brand. Start being just the one you really are. It is not worth it trying to behave like somebody else, you can only become a mere shadow of what you never will be.
Be your brand. And be so with passion. Walk your talk and listen to others with enthusiasm.
3. Be different
Be different. Be different from the other brands you tend to compare yourself with. Be a brand that surprises many.
4. Be relevant
Be relevant. Be a brand that surprises, but don’t surprise for surprise’s sake. Surprise people in a relevant way. Be relevantly different. Brand being, or being relevantly different, is the key to conquer people’s hearts and minds.
5. Challenge yourself and take risks
Success cannot be obtained without challenges or taking risks. Challenge yourself and dare to take some risks. Not a single success in history has ever been reached without taking risks, calculated or not.
6. Be prepared to fail
Be prepared to fail. Most people have a very bad relationship with failure. They see it as a dead end; they see it as a plan that didn’t work out because their idea wasn’t good enough. The truth, however, is different. Most people fail often before they reach success. If you want to get really good at something, you will have to be prepared to fail at least a few times. If your first try would be a major success, it would be like winning the lottery. Don’t fool yourself, and don’t expect to gain the lottery.
7. Expect resistance
Expect resistance. Some will laugh at you, others will be mad at. Some will ignore you from fear of being associated with you. Others will envy you. Don’t blame the others for their behavior. They are obstructing themselves by their conservative thinking, and they feel better with perfectly fitting into the box they have always been in. They are afraid of failing. Respect their choice.
8. Be different, brave and stubborn
Be different. Be brave and stubborn and follow your dreams. Being different can have two outcomes: either you fail or you reach success. But no matter how often you fail, see each failure as an opportunity to learn and to gain experience on your way to success.
9. Dare to fail
Dare to fail. When you look at great people throughout history, you see that they have the following in common: they failed and failed often; and they kept on trying because they were convinced that failure represented opportunity, not defeat. So, dare to fail. Though it may seem a lonely road, you can never be the first one to fail.
10. They failed
“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try”
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10.000 ways that won’t work”
(Thomas Alva Edison)
“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street”
“Failure is not failing down but refusing to get up”
“There is no failure. Only feedback.”
“Mistakes are the portals of discovery”
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
11. Being prepared to fail is the prerequisite to success
Being prepared to fail is the prerequisite to success. The main thing is to never give in, and keep on going on your enthusiasm and determination. Eventually you will win.
12. We wish you many interesting failures on your way to success!
- Make your strategy straightforward and believable
You know what your brand stands for from your company’s point of view, but can your brand deliver what you promise? Do not only say what you do, just do it in a believable way.
- Stand out from the crowd
Don’t copy any other brand you may be looking up to. There are already too many brands that are pretty similar. Know and truly understand your competitive advantage and adhere to it. Make it the corner stone of your strategy. Aim to be unique in what you are offering, by doing the same, but differently.
- Be authentic
Tell an authentic story about your brand and close the gap between company fiction and customer reality. Don’t think in terms of a 30 seconds commercial or ad, but tell a credible and compelling story of all times. Your brand deserves its own story that builds on its past strengths, its present value and its meaningfulness for the future
- Be where your audience is
Be present in public and private places where chances are high to get noticed by your target audiences. Be not only in the predictable shops and collateral, but be in places, building and venues where people meet and convene, both for pleasure and work. Also, go beyond two-dimensional marketing. Think of different ways to bring your story to life in a three-dimensional way.
- Put customer centricity at the heart of your strategy
Listen to your customers. Understand what your customers think about you and trust what they really value and appreciate in a relationship with you. Reward them for doing so.
- Personalize your approach
Customers are unique and they want to be treated as such. Forget old school push and mass marketing as main drivers for success. Treat customers in a respectful way, by showing them you really care about their wishes and needs. Consider their problems as yours and solve them. Communicate the right individual message to the right customer at the right time in the right format. And walk your talk at every customer touchpoint you can imagine.
- Deliver an unforgettable experience
Think of generating additional demand for an existing offering. The experience itself may be quite different from your core service, but it is the start of a relationship and a potential opening for future transactions. Make your product or service visible and tangible so that it turns into a real experience. Powerful brands connect emotionally with all five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.
- Be collaborative and engage with your customers
Customers know your brand because they use it… Therefore, they can tell you a lot about their experiences. Maybe a scary idea for lots of companies, but better participate than ignoring the reality. Your brand is being discussed over the internet anyway, so why not participate? Let customers exchange ideas and experiences about your brand. Allow them to share ideas, discuss and rate your products. Use social media for listening. Listen to what your customers are saying they are interested in. Interact only when you have something interesting to say about issues they are looking for. Don’t sell your company vision, just be real… assist and help.
- Embrace the principle of managing your virtual company
Make your website bring more business to you. The internet no longer is a linear experience. The era of the online business card or brochure is over. The internet is exponential in its reach. Make your website become an experience that is about your visitors. Build in many call to actions and turn web visitors into customers and advocates of your brand. Your website should be owned by them.
- Use co-branding to widen your scope
Team up with brands that have values identical to yours, that appeal to the same target groups as yours. Through co-marketing you can broaden your own scope and expertise.
- Do have fun in 2011 !
Wishing you a great, inspiring and successful 2011
Ann & Co