We all want to be 'top of mind' when prospects and customers are thinking about purchasing the type of products or services we provide. In my case, when someone is thinking about hiring a marketing consultant, of course I want him or her to think of me first. I at least want to be in the top three. How can I achieve that, and more importantly, how can you achieve that? By creating as many ways as possible to have prospects and customers engage your brand.
Simply stated brand engagement refers to the various strategies and tactics you can use to give potential customers the opportunity to experience what you and your brand are all about. If you want real world examples of how this is done visit a Niketown, Sony or Bose store. What these retailers have in common is that they emphasize the 'experience' of using their products, not the selling. The strategy that these retailers use is to show you how well their products fit into your lifestyle. The tactic that they use is not selling, but rather, educating. Bose does a particularly good job at this. Walk into any Bose store and you can get a thorough tutorial on all things acoustic. Sales people will share with you the finer points of filling a room with sound, speaker characteristics, and other issues to consider when selecting audio components. In addition they will answer any question you have. All this is done with a low key, no pressure approach that makes it comfortable for prospects to get information and leave, make a purchase or come back at another time. Nike and Sony do comparable jobs in their arenas. What is the magic of this approach? It recognizes a few key points. Customers:
* Control the purchasing process
* Value knowledge and information
* Love to buy but hate being sold to.
How can you do that?
At a recent seminar I challenged business owners to work with me on creating 'experiences' for their prospects that educated and gave an opportunity to get involved with the brand with 'selling'. One example of what we developed:
* A furniture retailer - in discussing the various sales tools to his salespeople, we realized that the miniature mattresses and cut-a-way models in the store were rarely used and then only in answering a specific inquiry from a prospect. We can up with the idea of creating a one-hour seminar on how furniture was constructed and what features to look for when selecting sofas, mattresses and other furnishings. Brainstorming further we came up with the idea of including a chiropractor to discuss features of furniture to keep in mind that could help alleviate or prevent common issues related to back and joint pain and posture. Wanting to provide an additional incentive for people to attend, we decided to include hors d'oeuvres and wine. There would be no overt selling and everyone who attended could at their discretion leave contact information to be alerted about future events. How did it turn out? Tune in to next week's column for the results of this example and others.