Customer Loyalty and the Court of Public Opinion

“Brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”
-Marty Neumeier

What kind of impact does public opinion have on a brand? You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard about United Airlines or seen the pictures of people that were forcibly removed from a flight. Their tagline and branding, however, would tell you to expect to “fly the friendly skies”. The perception of their brand by the general public would tell you to stay away. A quick Google search for United Airlines memes will tell you a lot about what the court of public opinion has to say on the matter.

UA Meme.jpg

But has the United Airlines brand suffered from their PR nightmare?

Within days of their backlash, United’s stock plummeted and the company lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Their NPS score (which rates how loyal people are to a company and how likely they are to recommend them to their friends and family) dropped to -64 and currently stands at 10 out of 100 (as of 9/15/17).

The travel and hospitality industry as a whole averages an NSP score of 44.

Let’s take a look at JetBlue, who is still a relatively young airline (especially when compared to corporations like United). Like every major airline, they’ve had bumps in the road, but by and large, they’ve made creating a pleasant experience for their passengers a huge priority and their customers are among the most loyal. To give you an idea about what perception can mean for customer loyalty, JetBlue’s NPS score is sitting pretty at 68 right now.

As another recent example, my in-laws came to visit us from Pennsylvania. My father-in-law told us about how he’s “not allowed” to buy a ticket from anyone but Delta. To which, my mother-in-law replied, “Why would I fly with anyone else? I know what I like!” Well, there you have it. Her experience has been positive, so she’s adamant about using only Delta and making sure everyone she cares about knows how great Delta is.

So if you’ve ever had a friend gush about an “amazing” product they just bought or had a colleague tell you how much they love the networking group they’re part of, it’s because they’ve loved their experience and have become a brand ambassador for that organization.

Word-of-mouth from those we trust is incredibly impactful. Especially when recent findings from Nielsen’s Harris Poll shows that 82% of consumers consider the advice of family and friends as the most persuasive factor when looking for information about new products or services.

So, when you’re creating your business plan and thinking about your “brand story”, don’t forget to put your customer’s wants, needs, and experience front and center.

If you’re in the Minneapolis area, and you’d like to learn more about how to turn your customers into brand ambassadors, I’m teaming up with Customer Experience expert Deb Brown for a free live event Thursday, October 12th, 2017 from 9:30am - 12pm. Click here to for more information!

Lessons I Learned From an Automatic Hand Dryer

We’ve all had that moment when we’ve encountered an uncooperative automatic dispenser of water/soap/paper towels/hot air. The very things designed to make our lives easier, healthier and more convenient have left us all flailing our arms about like inept wizards at one time or another. 

I recently had one of those experiences after washing my hands. I found myself conducting an invisible orchestra, hoping that my sick moves would convince the air dryer to do its job. I was failing miserably. I continued to wave my hands, looking for the sweet spot that would appease the “hands-free” air dryer (ain’t that a laugh), so I wouldn’t have to use one of my favorite dresses like a towel. 

That’s when it hit me. No, not the hot air the illustrations on the front of the dryer promised would be there if I just placed my hands in front of it like a rational, sane person. It was the revelation that at that very moment, I was like so many business owners. I was doing everything I was supposed to do. Everything that I had been told would bring success - with no results (other than my increased frustration and the enduring moistness of my hands).

Unresponsive customers are a lot like that damned hand dryer. When they don’t respond to our efforts, it can be frustrating and really tempting to blame them for our difficulties. However, if we’re honest, it’s probably one of the following (or a combination of all three) that are messing with our results:

1) The targeting is way off.

2) The branding and marketing is sending the wrong message to the wrong people (see reason #1). We’re simply not talking to the right people, at the right time, or in the right way.

Here’s an example. We had a realtor client that was creating his own landing pages before coming to us. He wanted to target senior citizens interested in downsizing to senior housing during the winter. He decided to use an image of someone snowplowing with the headline: “Are You Sick of Housing Maintenance?” In his mind, he was pointing out the benefits of senior living in a community where yard work and plowing is taken care of for you. Potential clients thought he was a landscaper offering maintenance services and felt misled once they clicked on his ad. Once we got the messaging in line with his intent and in a way his audience could understand and get behind, people became responsive and picked up what he was putting down.

3) There’s a lack of clarity in the branding and marketing that’s creating a lack of clarity for customers. For example: If you say you offer a high-end product, but you’re still rocking the DIY website, you’re sending a mixed message and people may be wary about how “high-end” your products really are.

In short, confused customers don’t buy.

We all know that success isn’t guaranteed (neither are dry hands, apparently). Looking for your crowd in the right places and getting in front of them while presenting yourselves the right way is going to be key. Getting clarity about your positioning and messaging can be as simple as just asking the right questions. Here’s a few to consider:

If you were to get in front of your perfect customer right now would they recognize you (at a glance) as a company that just “gets them”? Looking at you competition, is your company the one they’d want to work with? Would they understand your message and would you get a response? That last one can also be answered by simply asking, have they been responding and what questions have they been asking? Lastly, how can you be sure you won’t stand there, waving your arms like an idiot, trying new technique after new technique to elicit some sort of reaction?

We see these issues all the time with new clients. In fact, that’s why we started offering consultation services in the first place. We want to help business owners get their branding on point, and start attracting the right customers. If you think it may be time revamp your brand and really create a strategy for it, we can help you with that! If you just want someone to look at everything you’ve got during a “deep dive” session and tell you why the damned thing won’t turn on!!?? We can do that too.  

Give us a call at 612-481-32545, or pick a time for a brief discovery call from the times below.

Talking with Attorney Julie Finch About Trademark and Copyrighting!

If you're interested in protecting your brilliant ideas, or establishing your business name. Hell, if you'd just like to make sure you stay out of trouble as you build your business, you'll need someone like Julie Finch on your team.

Julie Finch is an attorney that handles Trademark, Copyright, Social Media, E-Commerce, Information Licensing, Software Licensing, and Business (to name a few). ;)

We got to talk to Julie on our Facebook Live show, "Let's Have a Drink" on May 31st, 2017. She absolutely blew us out of the water!

Minnesota Copywriter, Jeff Coughenour, Talks Brand Voice

Your Brand Voice is telling others who you are as a company. Your values, beliefs, attitude and personality are all assumed by the consumer based on what your brand is putting out there! That includes your web copy, marketing materials, Facebook posts, and more! So the big question is, do you know the impact Brand Voice is having on your business? In this video, Jeff talks about Brand Voice, big corporations that use their voices cleverly, mistakes to avoid, and how smaller brands can develop their voices too. After all, every "voice" matters no matter how small.

FB Livecast: Let's Have a Drink - Special Guest: Alissa Daire Nelson

This week Jeff and Heather (that's me) had a drink with certified Strengths Strategy Coach, Alissa Daire Nelson. We had a blast talking about Facebook Live, and online strategies that could be used to reach "fringe" customers (those just starting to learn about a company's product). In this case, our focus was on Loving Cup Teas, a small business creating unique, custom loose leaf tea blends. Marissa, the owner, was a great sport, and chatted with us live about her struggles. If your struggling to reach those that aren't familiar with your products, or services, check it out!