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Customer-Connected Branding in 2016

customer-connected brandingIn 2016 brands will be striving to connect more deeply with customers. The age of the well-informed customer is upon us, with their greater access to information and constant connection to their friends and industry experts. Because of this, brands need to move away from the slick 30-second commercials and flashy trade show displays and begin to connect with their audiences on a more personal and meaningful level. Here are three attributes that brands must embrace in 2016.

Customer Experience

Companies that want a competitive advantage in 2016 should focus on providing a better customer experience at every brand touch-point through the customer journey. What this means is a brand will benefit by not only planning for the ideal experiences it wants its audience to have but also by building systems to nurture and support a full range of customer experiences. According to Forrester Research, the customer experience will be among the top 10 critical success factors determining who will win and who will fail in 2016.

Customer experience extends far beyond just using the product.  It reaches into all aspects of contact with the consumer, even when the consumer is not planning to purchase anything. Consumers expect companies to respond to them whenever they ask a question on social media sites. They expect responses to reviews, positive or negative.  They also read the reviews of companies very carefully; any companies that do not rate 4 – 5 stars are suspect in the mind of the consumer.

Authenticity

Consumers today are not willing to put up with exaggerations or perceived artificialness by brands. They want to know not only what your brand actually is, but the people behind the brand and what they stand for. Now that the internet can be searched for similar products and there are dozens of websites that review and analyze every kind of product and service, almost every product is now a commodity. With so many options available, consumers are looking for more than just a product or service. Often, they want something that brings meaning to the service; they want to be associated with a company that they can be proud of.

Strong Ethics

According to the study The New Age of Brand Loyalty by AdroitDigital, 38% of consumers will switch brands if a company is found to have bad business practices. If product cost is not the issue, a business found to have bad business practices is the number one reason that consumers will switch brands. Consumers tend to find out the business practices through collaboration with their friends and through review sites on the Internet. One bad review from a friend has a lot of weight and could cause the consumer to change companies.

So take some time to review your brand strategies. Have they been updated for the always-connected world of 2016?  Take a look at your plan and adapt your brand strategy to positively impact the authenticity, company ethics and consumer experience.

PG
    About Sheila Kloefkorn
With more than 20 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing,, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.

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