All posts by Aly Yale

5 Actions that Build Brand Trust

Today’s tech-savvy consumer doesn’t buy from just anyone. With all the options out there and the ease with which one can compare prices, read reviews and study up on brands, there’s no need to settle for a less-than-ideal brand anymore.

Customers can have their cake and eat it, too.

It’s this stone-cold buying approach that makes brand trust even more crucial than it has been in years past. As a brand, trust is what can put you above a competitor in a customer’s eye – even if your price points are higher or your products are a little bit different. It’s also what can keep a buyer coming back for more, time and time again.

Do you know how to build brand trust? Here are 5 actions that do it every time:

Providing value

Today’s consumer is wise. They don’t want their time wasted, and they know full well there are other brands that can give them what they need if you can’t deliver. Want to keep them around? Give them value at every touchpoint. Stop using your blog to promote your latest sale, but instead show your buyers how to style the clothes they buy from you or install the software you sold them. Forget flooding their inboxes with ads and spam, and send them rewards money or coupon codes. Deliver something useful to your customers, and they’ll repay you with repeat purchases and brand advocacy in spades.

Going live

Nothing is more transparent or authentic than a real, live interaction with someone. That can mean showing up to a trade show, answering phone calls or even using Facebook to live-stream some behind-the-scenes footage of your brand at work. Show customers you’re real, you’re here, and you’re part of their world.

Being authentic

If you want people to trust your brand, you have to build it up as a friend or confidant for your audience – and that means breaking down those corporate walls and getting a little more “real” with customers. Now that doesn’t you should mean forgo the copyediting before posting a Tweet, but be a little freer when communicating with your audience. Don’t always pump your latest product or shove sales jargon down their throats. Speak to them like you would a peer, and they’ll do the same for you.

Showing outside evidence

Telling customers you’re great is one thing, but other people doing it? That speaks volumes more. Build up a network of strong brand advocates and ambassadors who will tout your brand in their circles. Solicit reviews on Google, Yelp and other review sites. Give rewards for those who provide you testimonials, and share Facebook reviews and satisfied customer Tweets to show off the real, authentic feedback you’re getting from buyers. Let their words do the work for you.

Asking for feedback

Everyone wants their voice to be heard – even happy, satisfied customers. Make an effort to reach out to customers new and old, and get their feedback on how you’re doing and what you could do better. Poll followers on Facebook and Twitter, send out email surveys or gather customer focus groups to solicit their thoughts. You want them to trust you? Let them tell you how to make that happen.

Earning their trust

Brand trust doesn’t come easily. You have to earn it. Want more advice on how to do that? Let Haley Brand Intelligence guide the way.

 

 

 

How to Get Your Team Onboard With Branding

Branding isn’t just an external effort. In fact, good branding actually starts on the inside – with your employees.

You see, if your team isn’t fully onboard with your branding, understanding and believing in it fully, then it’s never going to be effective, no matter how many marketing and advertising dollars you pour into it.

Your employees come up with your marketing strategies, they interface with your customers, they sell your products and they update your website and social media. If they don’t understand your branding or subscribe to it, how can they translate it properly to others? More importantly, how can they get others to buy into something that they themselves don’t believe in?

Customers are very intuitive, and they know when they’re being lied to or bluffed. And in this high-tech day and age, people are looking for full transparency. If they get the sense an employee at any point in the sales cycle isn’t fully onboard with the brand, they have no problem jumping ship and finding another company to buy from – even if it means more time and energy is required.

Do you want to make sure your branding is being translated properly? Want to ensure your employees are onboard and promoting that branding as effectively as possible? Here are a few tips to help:

  • Make branding a part of your interviews. If you really want to make sure your team is behind your branding, start from the very beginning – before they’re even hired. Talk to potential employees about what your brand stands for and who it is, and get their feedback on your brand’s persona and values. See if their opinions match up before offering them any sort of permanent employment.
  • Incorporate brand training into your new employee orientations. Don’t just train your employees on the basic processes they need to get through the day, spend time talking to new hires about your organization, what it stands for and what you seek to provide the customer. Show them just what your company is all about, and get them excited about sharing that with the world. That’s where great branding starts.
  • Include your employees in branding and rebranding efforts. When establishing your branding or delving into any rebranding efforts, always include your employees – and not just the C-suite ones, either. Get people from sales, marketing, customer service and every department in your company involved, and make sure you’re looking at the organization as a whole – not just one small part or portion.

Is your team fully onboard with your branding? Do they understand your company values and voice? Do they know how to translate that to the customer? If not, it’s time to make a change. Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today, and we’ll help make your branding efforts more effective across the board.

 

 

5 Steps to Building an Effective Brand

Your brand isn’t just the products you sell or the services you provide. It’s not even your name, your logo or your motto.

Your brand is your company’s personality – how you make customers feel and how you’re perceived as an entity.

It’s an intangible thing that can’t put in a box or even really defined. It means something different for each and every business out there, and if you want to see success as a company, it’s something you should work to hone, build and grow at every turn.

Does your company have a unique brand, or are you just a business that sells products? If you’re the latter, consider taking these six easy steps, and start building your brand today:

  1. Determine what makes you different. What are your brand’s strengths and weaknesses? What makes you stand out from your competitors? Sure, you might sell the same products as them, but do you offer anything that they don’t? Maybe you sell your products online? Or maybe you have better, more comprehensive customer service than them? Whatever it is that differentiates you – no matter how small – use that to define your brand and create a company message to share with the world.
  2. Find the right niche. You’ve heard that old saying about a “big fish in a small pond,” right? Well, that’s what finding a niche is. It means instead of promoting your brand to the entire world and competing with millions of other businesses out there, you instead choose to focus on a small, more tight-knit group of consumers – ones who are more likely to become leads or paying customers, either because of their interests, demographics or another factor. Determining a niche for your business allows you to cut down on the competition and reach more viable, ready-to-buy customers, and it can make a huge difference on your bottomline in the long run.
  3. Be consistent. Once you’ve honed in on your brand – what makes you different and what message you want to convey to the world – be sure that comes through in every other area of your business. It should be heard in your website copy, in your press releases and in your blog, and you should even follow suit in social media and with imagery, logos and graphics. If it doesn’t fit in with your overall message and brand, then step back, re-strategize and try again. You don’t ever want to get confused for your competitors, so always focus on what you do best and the overarching message you’re trying to convey.
  4. Reach your customers on a personal level. Nothing grows a brand more than word-of-mouth marketing – customers sharing their experiences with others, recommending a business to friends and loved ones, and just touting their favorite brands and companies around the water cooler. If you want your customers to help grow your brand, you need to reach them on a personal level and speak to them emotionally. Don’t touch base only when you have a new product or are hurting for sales. Instead, make them feel like valuable, integral players in your company’s success. Answer their questions on social media, make customer service and support a priority, and always go the extra mile to show them that your brand cares.
  5. Measure and reflect. Every once in a while, take a step back and measure the results of your branding efforts. Survey past customers, as well as random participants, and get feedback on your marketing efforts, your website, your social media strategies and more. Use metrics and analytics to see how successful your efforts have been at growing your brand, and if things aren’t trending the way you like, use this time to sit down and make some changes. Though you may not always see the results you were looking for when measuring, it will always provide you with valuable insight to grow and expand your brand even further.

Take a minute to consider your business. Do you have a recognizable brand? One that people can get behind, emotionally connect with and feel a part of? Or do you simply provide products and services? Building a brand may take more work, but the investment will more than pay off in the end. Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today to learn more about branding and how it can help you improve your company’s performance in the long run.

What Makes a Loyal Customer?

brand loyalty

Long-term business success relies on customer loyalty.

Though one-time purchases will certainly put money in your coffers, it’s the customers who buy from your brand time and time again that will really help you reach your financial goals – and beat out your competitors.

But cultivating loyal customers – and their repeat purchases – is easier said than done. In fact, according to recent data from Facebook, there’s a lot that goes into building a long-term customer relationship, and much of it is pretty intangible.

Let’s take a look at what that means for you.

 “Loyalty is Thriving and Rooted in Emotion”

People don’t become long-term, loyal customers with their pocketbook. Sure, they like to save a buck here and there, but to really want to come back for more?

They have to love it.

According to Facebook, people who are loyal to brands “prioritize more emotive and experiential qualities, like trust and service.” That means they don’t just want to get their order fast or get the best deal; they also want to feel like they matter – that the brand they’re doing business with cares about them, prioritizes them and, maybe, even shares some of the same values as them.

So how do you do that?

  • Over-deliver – Don’t just meet the bare minimum when it comes to customer service, communication or shipping. Over-do it. Beat your delivery deadlines. Go above and beyond when contacted with a question or order issue. Provide multiple points of contact to make sure customers have what they need at every step of the way.
  • Focus on the experience – A great product isn’t enough to cement a long-term relationship. A great experience is. Think holistically, and give your customers a good experience from start to finish.
  • Follow-up – Don’t just deliver an order and be done. Follow up, and make sure they were happy with their delivery. Check in, and see if they need anything at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever other holiday. Stay top of mind however you can.
  • Tailor – One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for cultivating loyalty. If you want long-term customers, you need to tailor your messaging at every touchpoint you can. Want parents to frequent your restaurant? Make sure they know about your high chairs. Need Millennials to make your hotel hot? Get social, and post about your community service events on Facebook.

Who’s Loyal?

Any customer can become a loyal one, but there are some subsets that are a bit harder (and easier) to reach.

Millennials, for example, are actually twice as likely as Baby Boomers to want to be brand-loyal. But unfortunately, there are some serious barriers to making that happen. With grocery stores, they’re 2.5 times more likely to consider a store’s hygiene level as a barrier to loyalty, and with restaurants, a lack of healthy options makes them twice as hard to make a loyal customer. They’re also harder to snag loyalty as a hotel, airline and auto insurer.

High-income earners, on the other hand, are actually an easier get. People who have a household income of $150K or more are actually 32 percent more likely to be brand-loyal. Parents are also more likely to be loyal than non-parents – especially in more experiential product lines, like hotels, airlines, etc.

As I mentioned before, if you’re hoping to snag one of these demos as a loyal customer, just make sure you tailor your efforts toward their needs. Do market research and find out what their hurdles are. Customize your marketing copy, ad campaigns, email newsletters and more, and make sure you’re connecting with them on a personal level.

Loyal = Long-term

Brand loyalty is where the money’s at, so if you’re hoping to see long-term success as a business, invest some time and resources into cultivating a loyal customer base. Both your bottom line and your customers will thank you for it. Got questions about your strategy? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

 

Disruption Interruption: How Your Brand Can Do It

disruption

We’re living in an age of disruption. Companies like Uber and Lyft turned the transportation industry on its head, while artificial intelligence is doing the same for the brick-and-mortar retail world.

It’s a time of change and growth. And the only thing that’s predictable anymore is that nothing is predictable anymore.

For business owners, that can be pretty scary. It basically means that no matter how long a brand has been around, how much business it’s done or how much it’s loved by customers, there’s no longer a guarantee of success.

At any time of any day, someone – or something – could come in a change the game, and all past assumptions go out the window.

So what can you do?

Do you just sit back and wait for the impact? Or is there something you can do today – right now – to help protect your brand for potential disruption?

No matter what industry you’re in, lying down and rolling over for the new guys isn’t the right option. Here’s what you can do to stave off disruptors and protect your business in the age of constant change:

  1. Don’t want disruptions to catch you off guard? Then try to predict them. Put together a team of your most creative, innovative, outside-the-box thinkers, and ask them to simply brainstorm. What are the craziest things that could happen in your industry? What amazing things – if there were no financial, geographical or technical boundaries – would they want to see your company do or produce? Tell them the skies the limit, and see what they come up with. Odds are, even their most far-fetched ideas are already in the pipeline somewhere on the globe.
  2. Tune in. Stay apprised of what your market wants. That includes what they want from you and your products, as well as just what they want in business, love, and life in general. Find new ways to deliver on these desires, and evolve as the market demands. Better yet, evolve before the market demands. Give your customers what they want, before they even know they want it. (Great ways to tune into your customers: social media, surveys, interviews, polls, focus groups, customer think tanks.)s
  3. Disrupt. If you don’t want disruptors to hurt your business, become the disruptor yourself. Be the one who takes your competitors down a notch and catapults your industry to a new level that customers never imagined. Hire innovators and thinkers who can push your products and services to the limits, and never be satisfied with the status quo. Work outside the box, kick conventional ideas to the curb and don’t ascribe to it-worked-before-it-will-work-again model of business. Make constant evolution a mainstay of your organization.

You never know when disruptions will hit, so start taking steps today to protect your brand from potential disruptors in the midst. Need help? Want to be the disruptor in your industry? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

 

How to Win Loyalty for Your Brand

brand advocates

In the branding world, there’s nothing better than a loyal customer.

Loyal customers are the ones who will buy from you time and time again, year after year, resulting in hundreds, thousands or maybe even millions of dollars in sales.

They’re also the people who will refer you to other customers – their friends, family members, colleagues and loved ones who will buy your products, use your services and put money in your pocketbook.

Sure, getting a one-time sale will fill the coffers temporarily. But long-term success? That only comes from loyal, passionate, repeat customers who keep coming back for more.

So how do you go about getting those types of customers? And what can you do to keep them? Here are 5 tips that can help you win customer loyalty for your brand:

  1. Single them out. You never want a customer to feel like just another number, so do anything you can to personalize the buying experience and really make every customer feel special. This can be as simple as sending them a thank-you note after a purchase has been made or following up to make sure they’re happy with the product once it’s been shipped out. You can even tag them on social media and call them out directly! Whatever you do, just makes sure they feel valued and appreciated.
  2. Offer a guarantee. There’s no better way to say “I have great products” than to offer a guarantee or warranty on them. Guarantees show you stand behind your offerings, and that should something go awry, you’re 100 percent willing to fix the issue and make sure the customer is happy. In a world where many purchases are done online with no interactions from salespeople or customer service reps, guarantees can go a long way in earning customer confidence and trust.
  3. Keep them engaged. Even after a sale has been completed, make an effort to keep every customer engaged in some form or fashion. Maybe it’s sending them a weekly email or alerting them of upcoming sales, or maybe it’s posting to social media with a funny meme, joke or unique use for your products. There are many ways to do this, but the fact of the matter is: If you don’t keep them engaged, they’ll forget about you. Do what you can to stay top-of-mind.
  4. Consider a rewards program. To really encourage long-term relationships, consider offering your customers rewards or points for each purchase they make with you. These points can get them closer to freebies, discounts or other bonuses at your store, or they can even give them cash back or gift cards. The main point is they encourage repeat purchases in the long term.
  5. Solicit feedback. Always give your customers a chance to provide feedback after a purchase, and make sure you really study that feedback once you get it. If something went wrong in the purchasing process, reach out and make it right with the customer. Then, use those errors to fix your process and prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

Are your customers one-time buyers or are they in it for the long haul? If you’re not sure, start implementing these tactics and watch the difference it makes in your bottom line. Need more help making your brand a success? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

Winning Strategies Focus on the Three R’s of Content Marketing

Have you ever noticed that when you see a McDonald’s, typically you will also see a Burger King? Or when you see a Target, odds are a Walmart is in close proximity? With brick and mortar brands, this is visually obvious, but the same coincidence is true when it comes to online space. Type in the keywords for your brand and you’ll notice that you might appear in the search results, but so do your closest competitors.

A little competition is actually a good thing. It gives brands a benchmark to compare or strive toward. It also provides consumers with choices. That’s right, I actually said that consumer choice is a good aspect of competition. A healthy bit of competition serves as a natural reminder for brands, forcing them to consistently have a gut check, evaluate current positioning and offerings, and push toward product enhancements.

While competition can be great for creating product roadmaps and defining consumer demand, it does make the landscape a bit more treacherous for online content marketers. Have no fear – we have three rules of content marketing that will steer your content marketing efforts toward search results success.

Roulette Anyone?

One of the biggest hurdles for any content marketer is to figure out how to create pieces that are not only interesting but also entertaining. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to make it fun – take it back to grade school and make it a game. Get consumers involved through a game of chance…a game of roulette.

Don’t leave the reputation of your brand to chance but rather make the involvement of your consumers exciting by engaging them in a way that they’ll never be completely sure what they’ll get. Make your message the surprise.

An excellent example of this is the new Doritos campaign, which is aptly named Doritos Roulette. This incredibly creative campaign has chip lovers across the globe rushing to purchase the mixed bag of regular Doritos with a handful of extra spicy ones in order to play the game for themselves. And word is spreading like wildfire on Vine and YouTube as consumers film their games and share their experiences.

By creating something that is fun and engages consumers in such a way, Doritos has established a campaign that is self-feeding with a message that is spreading virally and organically across cyberspace.

Rivalry Develops Advocates

Rivalries are a staple of our everyday lives through athletic teams, hometown cities and our brand preferences. New York vs. New Jersey, University of Texas vs. Oklahoma University, Pepsi vs. Coke – it’s something that is ingrained in our culture.

So why is this the key to content marketing? Glad you asked! These rivalries are key drivers for creating brand advocates. Think of how many times your grandparents preached about the dependability of a Buick as you were growing up or how many times you found yourself buying the maximum amount when your favorite but slightly more expensive brand, Tide, went on sale. Brands can become such a part of our lifestyles that, as consumers, we do a great deal of storytelling in hopes of swaying others on behalf of our favorite brands.

This natural tendency of rivalries helps create some of the strongest brand advocates. As content marketers, it is our job to fuel the fires of rivalry, providing our advocates with additional ammunition and publicly thanking them when they take a stand on our brand’s behalf.

Recognition Is the End Result

Want to increase your brand’s organic reach without spending a fortune? Recognize your consumers. This gesture of recognition often instills a sense of pride and provides a natural motivator for increased word-of-mouth advocate marketing.

You see this in restaurants all the time – a menu board full of sandwiches named after the store’s more famous and/or loyal patrons. Domino’s recently took this cue and created an app that allows customers to not only customize their pizza but also name it, and they can even earn money for local charities when other consumers order one of their creations.

Not only does this give consumers a chance for the public spotlight, it also allows Domino’s to put themselves in a position of charitable giving within individual communities, giving consumers even more reason to pledge their loyalty to the brand and return again and again.

Creating a Game Plan for Your Brand

The first step to any journey is always the hardest. At Haley Brand Intelligence, we’ve helped hundreds of brands create roadmaps for success with their content marketing strategies. If you’re ready for your brand to get into the game, contact Haley Brand Intelligence and let us guide you to a winning strategy.

 

How to Increase Customer Loyalty Through Your Branding

brand ambassadors

Good branding doesn’t just help increase leads and bring in new customers. In fact, it’s actually best at improving the loyalty of existing customers who already know about your brand, have bought from you and have used your services.

Now I know that doesn’t sound as exciting … the same old customers? Don’t you want new ones to improve your profits?

Actually, there’s a lot more money to be gained from a passionate, loyal following than just a bunch of newbies. For one, they’ll buy from you again and again – that means no advertising costs, no sales pitches, and no added expenses. Just regular income from them month after month or year after year.

They’ll also become your biggest brand ambassadors. Without any payment, they’ll start shouting your name from the rooftops, getting their friends and colleagues to love your brand too. You can’t get much better than that!

So how do you make this happen? How do you increase loyalty with existing customers simply through your branding? Here are a few simple ways:

  1. Give them an experience. Your customers should experience more than just an exchange of money and goods. Make their experience memorable. Make it easy, fun, helpful, valuable and anything else you can. Get everyone from your sales team to your customer service specialists on board, and create a consistent level of care and service that customers can learn to love and rely on.
  2. Make a human connection. Sure the web makes everything easier, but there’s something to be said for human connection, too, and don’t forget that. Whenever possible, add personal touches to your customer experience to make buyers feel more at home. Reach out with a personalized thank-you email, call them up and make sure their purchase is up to par, or check in a month later to see if there’s anything you can help with.
  3. Get to know your customers. Take time to find out what your customers like and don’t like, need and don’t need. Then use that information to tailor your brand exactly to them. Add them to an email list specifically aimed at buyers in a certain sphere or positions in a company. Direct them to landing pages that address the unique challenges they’re going through. Use their first name when they call for customer service or email your team for help. Make them feel like a part of your branding – not a victim of it.

What has your branding done for you? If it’s not encouraging repeat business or turning customers into outright brand ambassadors, you’re doing something wrong. Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today to learn more.

3 Branding Rules That Are Meant to Be Broken

branding rules

I’m sure you’ve seen tons of blog posts out there about the “rules” of branding. Heck, we’ve probably posted some ourselves over the years!

As much as those rules are important, it’s also crucial you recognize that the rules aren’t all there is. Sure, they’re good principles to go by, especially if you’re new to branding or your company is just starting out.

But like any rule, branding rules are meant to be broken. They don’t all apply to every company and brand, and they certainly don’t work with every type of customer or audience.

The truth is, you really have to get to know your brand, your audience and your goals, and only then can you determine the appropriate way to brand your organization – rules or not.

Let’s take a look at some of the so-called branding “rules” and why maybe, just maybe, they’re meant to be broken:

  1. Be professional. Yes, customers want to know that you’re a resource – a go-to hub for information, services or products they want or need for certain reasons. They want to know you’re an expert – someone they can trust and lean on. But you know what? They also want to know you’re a person – someone just like them, who has feelings, thoughts, dreams and a sense of humor. That’s what will endear you to them and make them feel a part of your brand. So don’t make your branding strategy all about professionalism and business. Develop a brand voice and personality, and show your customers who you really are.
  2. Constantly communicate. Many companies think they need to constantly drive their brand down customers’ throats in order to be effective. In reality, some of the best, most well-known brands don’t do any sort of communicating at all. How often do you see a Google commercial? Are you always getting email newsletters from them or text message promotions? Definitely not. Great branding is more about communicating creatively, effectively and in a way that resonates with your customers. As not all customers are the same, the amount of communication you really need varies depending on your audience. So study them, listen and find the right way to reach your unique customers.
  3. Always provide information. Not every branding effort needs to talk about your products, your services or your benefits. It doesn’t even have to be about your industry or company. Really great branding delivers customers a lifestyle – something they can get behind philosophically and on a day-to-day basis. As such, some of your branding efforts should be aimed at developing this lifestyle – making your customers happy, giving them something to laugh about, or just putting a smile on their face for the day. Maybe that means posting a funny meme on your Facebook, instead of another promo for your upcoming sale. Maybe it means uploading a behind-the-scenes video of your staff having fun at work. Remember, customers want a brand they can feel a part of, so invest time and resources in providing that.

Rules are just a starting point. If you really want to break the mold and stand out as an organization, breaking those rules is sometimes (and often) a necessity. Want your brand to make a splash? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.