For customers, every interaction associated with a brand contributes to the overall customer experience and forms their perceptions of that brand. This means every touchpoint must work to deliver on the brand promise and, therefore, companies need to shift focus and investments away from simply marketing and towards consistently executing on that promise.
Zachary Paradis, Director Innovation Strategy at SapientNitro, addressed this subject in a recent webinar, “Building Brand Equity Through Experience,” which was hosted by the American Marketing Association and sponsored by Aquent.
The webinar offered a crash course in delivering on that brand promise across traditional and digital media, physical services, and even through the ultimate brand ambassadors, your employees.
The fact is, very few companies are doing a good job in this area. Zachary cited Closing the Delivery Gap, a study of 362 firms conducted by Bain & Co. in which 95 percent said they were “customer focused” and 80 percent said they delivered a “superior experience.” In stark contrast to this, only 8 percent of customers agreed that these same companies delivered a “superior experience” – a clear disconnect!
To overcome this glaring gap, Zachary called for a shift in focus and an altered approach to building brand equity today.
Shift in Focus: Classic Funnel vs. Modern-Day Funnel
“Companies that excel in delivering journeys tend to win in the market.” – The Truth About Customer Experience by McKinsey/HBR
The first thing Zachary emphasized is that the classic marketing and commerce funnel no longer exists and therefore, the focus must be shifted.
The path to “purchase” is no longer straight. Instead, it consists of a collection of experiences that are staggered across media and represent each customer’s unique journey. Every point on this journey is an opportunity to build brand equity and reinforce a positive customer experience.
Accordingly, brands need to focus more on meeting customers where they are on their journey, rather than trying to move them lockstep down the company's pre-ordained funnel.
Altered Approach: Storyscaping and Blending Spaces
When brands communicate with their audiences, too often they focus less on storytelling and more on storyYELLING, which is a one-way approach to communicating. But today’s customers don't want to be told a story, they want to be part of a story.
To that end, Zachary insisted that brands must create worlds and use storyscaping: the process of building a landscape of engagement and experiences where people interact meaningfully at every touch point. Taking the storyscaping approach means thinking about the types of stories that are appropriate to each space—digital, physical, emotional—and then making sure that they blend as customers move from one space to the next.
And therein lies the challenge, but also the promise, of this approach: connecting the dots between these stories and experiences. Fortunately, technology today mediates and supports all relevant touch points. That's why smart companies are learning to embrace and implement technology that optimizes customer experience. The result? A more effective and meaningful customer journey.
Of course, this is just a high level recap of Zach's presentation. To learn how to really build brand equity across each touch point in the modern, non-linear sales funnel, catch the replay of the “Building Brand Equity Through Experience."
And if you feel like your company is already creating consistent and relevant experiences for your customers, leave a comment and tell us about it!
Image Source: Peter Zoon