The brand and the customer

The October issue is exceptionally customer-centric this year. This is great news and a worthwhile read for anyone with customers…hopefully that is a pretty inclusive category of our readership. In her lead article, “Brand Matters”, Diana Brown discusses the concepts behind branding. Branding is often confused with marketing. However, Brown explains the difference stating, “Marketing is about getting the ‘word’ out, whereas branding is about knowing what the ‘word’ is.” She uses my favourite example of just how powerful brands are by talking about bottled water…you know…the free stuff they package and sell!

In keeping with the customer perspective, the Director of Marketing for Avanti, Joanne Gore, speaks about the messaging used by printers to communicate brand. I feel that printers should always have the most amazing pieces of self-promotion, with every bell and whistle that showcases their capabilities. I often hear the excuse that producing pieces like these is too expensive. However, how can you not afford to build new clients or strengthen your brand with current ones?! Another way to engage customers is to use online customer portals and integrate them into your workflow to make it easier for them to interface with you. For more ideas on how to achieve this you’ll want to check out Mark Corrigan’s monthly tech column. I’d also like to take a moment to congratulate Mark on winning the prestigious St. Joseph Communication Chairman’s Award!

Lastly, perhaps one of the strongest indicators of brand is a customer’s devotion. This month David Fellman discusses the temperature of relationships. He encourages us to ensure that customers are happy, not by assuming that they are, but by taking a systematic approach to checking in on the “temperature” of the relationship with a phone call and a chat. The art of the phone call seems to be dying these days. However, a phone call is still much more impactful than an email. Empty thoughtless emails, are arriving in your mailbox daily just waiting to be ignored. In this vein, this September I banned my tech savvy, millennial generation students from emailing me. Instead I told them to come see me or call me. I thought that I would be met with much frustration. And while some are surely annoyed, on the whole the change has been exceptionally positive, both for my inbox and for my ability to get to know my ‘customers’. Of course business are following suit as well, with companies such as Atos who was one of the first to go the zero-email route.