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Are Your Employees Killing Your Brand


10 Strategies to include in your HR training to ensure your business does not become a victim

You’ve worked so hard to nurture strong bonds with your customers and carefully manage your reputation, and then you start growing and hiring. You have less and less time to dedicate to personal contact, so you have to start delegating.

Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, you find that you have lost a long-term client. You investigate and find that a negative interaction with an employee has irrevocably damaged a relationship that had existed from the beginning days of your business. Ughh!!!

How many times have you walked away frustrated, or infuriated with a brand because of a poor customer service or call center experience? We all have right?

The truth is, most businesses have systems and processes to scale their businesses for profitability, but brand training for employees is as rare as a truly meaningful vision or mission statement.

The result is employees who are well meaning, but ill equipped to deliver the brand experience delivered effortlessly by your company’s founders.

I’ll illustrate with a story of how an employee of one of my favorite brands almost lost our business as a customer for life, and 10 strategies to ensure your employees are not creating the same negative experience for your loyal customers.

Our story begins with one of my favorite brands.

I had been a supporter of this computer company for decades. All of my personal and business devices have been purchased through them since the early 1990’s. I guess you could say I am a bona fide cult member who sees this brand through rose-colored glasses.

However, a recent experience shook me to the core.

It began with our main art computer experiencing troubling symptoms. I called the local store. They did some triage over the phone and diagnosed the probable cause.

They asked for the serial number and informed me that even though our warranty had passed there was an identified issue with the part failing prematurely so the warranty had been extended. The caveat was that the extension had run out about a month ago. But we could call another number and see what they say.

So my partner called, and the response made the rose-colored glasses we saw this brand through, glow even rosier.

The wonderful customer service rep informed us that we were “a valued long time customer” and that even though the extension had ran out a month ago that they would cover the costs of the repairs. All we had to do was bring it into our local store to confirm the problem and then they would ship out the replacement part. We happily made the long trip to the computer store.

After a few days they called my partner to confirm the diagnosis and inform her that for some reason the warranty extension had been rejected. They apologized and gave her a number to call for an explanation.

She called and it all started to unravel.

The explanation was trite and condescending.

“The warranty is over. I reject your claim.”

My partner explained that we had been told it would be covered, and because of that had made the long trip to drop off the computer. She shared notes of the previous call with him and asked him what had changed.

She then put the call on speaker.

I listened as she was met only with more rudeness and condescension.

She then asked to talk to a manager and was flatly told “No”

She asked, “Why?”

He replied, “I am the final decision maker”

I swear you could hear his pimples popping as his voice cracked on the other end of the line.

I then asked to take over the call.

I asked “You are the end of the line are you?”

“Yes” he snapped, “and my decision is NO. We give you everything and you people just want more. The extension was over 1 month ago”

“You people” I replied, “ Hmmm.”

I calmly reiterated the previous conversation I had with customer service indicating it was covered and asked “Can I escalate this to your manager”

“No” he snapped again. “I told that lady I have the sole power to make this decision”

At this point, my rose-colored glasses were making me see red instead of roses, but I took a deep breath and countered,

“Just to confirm, this call is being recorded for quality control and training purposes is it?

He paused and said, “Yes”

I replied “Good, then let's talk about your brand and the lifetime value of a client...

I continued with “You’ve made your decision, you told me it is final, and there is no one else I can talk to about your decision, ok. Let’s finish this call and then can you please forward me to someone who is responsible for brand experience.”

He paused then replied “I guess that would be "X" department. Let me find that number for you. Hold for a moment"

A short time passed and he sheepishly came back on the line and said “Here is your warranty replacement number, is there anything else I can help you with?”

The color slowly started returning to my rose-colored glasses and a brand disaster was narrowly averted. But I will always remember that negative experience. There is now a crack in my rose colored glasses that may allow me to see other solutions.

An otherwise fiercely loyal customer is now open to other brands, just because of one very negative experience.

I’m sure you have had customer service experiences that are equally as frustrating.

So what can HR include in your training programs to ensure your employees continue nurturing your customers love affair with your brand?

#1 Active Listening

I find so much customer-service, call center and front-line training follows a flow chart methodology. If the concern is this, then go to this on the flow chart. The problem with this methodology is that your employee’s brain is always jumping ahead to anticipate the next step. This prevents them from actively listening to your customer’s heart felt issues.

As a customer, how many times have you stated your issue only to have a customer service rep ask a question 5 minutes into the conversation that “uncovers” the issue you clearly explained in the first place? They just didn’t “hear” you when you told them.

Active listening is the solution. It decreases the frustration of your customer and reduces the time to resolution. Time is money for you AND your customer.

#2 Empathy

Human compassion and empathy seems to be a victim of our disconnected “connected” world, yet it is the foundation of great branding.

When we actively listen and try to empathize with the anguish our customer is going through, the path forward often reveals itself and we make good customer-centered decisions.

This is a far-sighted approach. Rigid processes frustrate your customer. Though they may be good for the quarterly bottom line they are poison for building long term relationships.

I’m not sure about you but I would rather have a client that spends millions with me over decades than one who puts a quick hundred grand into my account and then leaves frustrated telling everyone she knows how bad the experience was.

Empathy builds long-term loyal customers.

#3 Honesty

Really?

I can’t believe this hasn’t sunk in with so many brands.

Dishonesty cannot be tolerated at any level. It dashes expectations and kills brands. Honesty must be a core value instilled in every employee. When anyone lies to push a personal agenda, everyone from your organization who communicates with your customer afterwards, unwittingly becomes a victim of that lie.

One lie can lose a customer for life.

A culture of honesty inspires confidence in your brand by employees, customers and investors. Putting your brand promise before short-term gain creates raving fans. Trust is everything!

#4 Find The And

Empower your employees to explore win-win situations.

Customer-centric branding does not mean giving away the farm. We are all in business to make a profit. We need systems, processes and rules to ensure we stay in business so it is important to always pursue win-wins.

Manage your customer’s expectations of what is possible but always look for the solution where you AND they can co-create solutions and both walk away happy.

This not only ensures your short-term profitability but also ensures your long- term viability.

#5 Remove Friction Points to Elevation

Give your employees power to resolve problems quickly, within limits. It may be a dollar limit or a time limit but the quicker a customer’s sincere complaint is resolved the better the outcome.

At the first signs of customer frustration allow them to either elevate your customer’s issue to a superior, before being asked by your customer, or set a defined limit to return their call/email... and write that limit in stone. The follow up may be as simple as just giving them a progress update.

Solving the customer’s problem is the goal, not being the gatekeeper for a superior.

Time to resolution should be a key performance indicator.

#6 Use Your Brand Promise As A Lens

Your brand promise should be reinforced and instilled in your employees.

Customer service decisions should be made through the lens of your brand promise.

I’ve said it a million times but if you haven’t heard it from me:

You brand is the movie that plays inside your customer’s heads every time they are reminded of you. 

Branding is an attempt to positively influence that movie.

When our employees understand the plot and dialogue of that movie, they become better directors to ensure the plot does not go off course and a love story does not turn into a zombie horror flick.

Being clear on your brand promise, and communicating the why to your employees, will make it easier for them to keep that promise and ensure the love story with your brand continues.

#7 Encourage Customer Feedback

Always enable customer feedback at every level of the brand experience.

Sometimes unhappy customers do not express it to our faces. One day what we thought was an awesome relationship ends, and we have no idea what happened as they leave us for another.

Two-way communication is important in any relationship.

Implement surveys and give incentives for feedback. It is the only way you will know how individuals ares doing and who you need to pay extra special attention to.

#8 Incentivize Employee Feedback

When an employee suggests ways to improve the customer experience, to deescalate conflicts, or to reduce the time to resolution… listen!

Some ideas may not be implemented but recognize employees for suggesting them. They are on the front lines and their eyes and ears are invaluable to understanding your customer.

Every idea should be acknowledged and each employee should be recognized for their willingness to share their input. No feedback is bad and the safer space you create for feedback, without fear, the more and better feedback you will receive.

You may even become aware of some of your own blind spots.

#9 Recognize Stars

Recognize and reward your brand stars. They are the employees who exemplify your brand promise, your vision and mission.

They are always trying to improve your customer’s experience and remove all reasonable friction points to customer frustration.

Use their interactions as case studies of how you can ensure that the movie playing inside your customer’s heads continues to be a love story with your brand.

Regularly ask your employees how you can improve communication or training around brand. Ask them if your brand promise is clear to them. If it is not clear to them they are at risk of breaking it in the minds of your customers.

#10 Follow-up With Unhappy Customer Experiences

This is the one point where the computer company in my above example failed miserably. Indeed it is the one point where most brands fail miserably.

When a customer obviously has a negative experience with your brand it is SO important to follow-up on that interaction.

With our employees, many of us review what went wrong in a customer interaction and how to improve the experience if a similar scenario arises. However, it astounds me how few people follow-up with the customer.

It can be as simple as a phone call from a superior, a hand written note or a personal visit.

It’s truly amazing what a simple heartfelt “Sorry” can do.

I hope this gives you some ideas of what to include in your employee brand training programs.

Active listening, empathy and the core elements of customer centric branding will give you a head start over your competitors who not implement these practices.

Drop me a message if you want to learn more.

David Betke teaches and consults on building Brands With Heart™ to help attract loyal customers, and employees who really care. His campaigns have saved a Canadian rainforest, reduced carbon emissions measurably in a city, and recruited senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 4000% return within 6 months and recruited a couple of great customers for life. Learn more here


Invest In Process Before Wasting Money On Attention



You hear it over and over again: the definition of madness is repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting different results. Yet the following is what I witness pretty much every day.

I see solo entrepreneurs, non profits, local governments and even $30+ million dollar/year businesses caught up in the attention phase of marketing. They continually spend their marketing dollars trying to attract traffic and attention yet they have little or no process to convert that attention to actions, sales, or hires. So, inevitably nothing happens, they conclude that the tactic they spent money on doesn't work and throw money at something else to attract more attention. The same thing happens, they conclude that tactic doesn't work so they continue the search for a new shiny thing.



The reality is, traffic and attention mean nothing until you have something engaging to drive your audience to - and a reason for them to take a meaningful action. Unfortunately this logical step is so often completely glossed over. Perhaps it is because the endorphin rush of getting attention is so addictive. However the hangover you get from all that empty attention is a killer, not to mention looking at your wallet the morning after.

Consider this scenario:
You just paid for a Facebook ad, a 1/2 page in a targeted trade publication, or are exhibiting at a new trade show. 

Now the real work begins! 
Or actually should have been done before this. Now you have to stand out from everyone else who purchased attention from that same source, then make a human connection between those readers... and your story or brand.

If your sales copy fails to connect, your booth looks like a child's lemon-aid stand, or your web page looks like it was created by your 4 year old nephew with finger paint... they will avoid you like the plague.

 

Good marketing turns attention into human connection.

If their first impression is good that initial connection will only earn you a momentary place in your the hearts and minds of your audience until they turn the page, click away, walk down another aisle, or see another squirrel.

You must leverage that first impression into sustained engagement.

You begin by getting 
qualified individuals to:
1- Express true interest in your product or service
2- Decide that your offer is the best solution for them
3- Actually do something about it

This takes process!

Yet the sad fact is that many people skip the connection and process parts, and continue to fall for the pitches of those who only sell attention.

You see something new and shiny like swag, video, content or the next social media shiny thing. You think this will be the magic pill and you continue with the false hope that merely standing out is enough to get people to DO. So you get out your credit card, pay for more attention, and again very little happens. You either jump to the conclusion that this particular form of attention does not work, or that there is something fundamentally wrong with you, your products or services. 

You feel bad and look for more attention to make you feel better ... and the loop continues.

Meanwhile the only one getting rich is the one who is selling you the attention.

If you have had enough, you want off the hamster wheel, and you're exhausted with throwing more money into the black hole of attention, I hope the following helps.

Make this your mantra:

Attention Is Not Sales!


Before you start planning for your next trade show, your next print ad, video or content piece please consider carefully:

 • What your primary goal is? State it in writing. Be as specific as possible.

• Who do you need to reach and recruit to help you attain your goal? Be as clear as possible with your audience profile.

• How are you going to make an immediate human connection with them, and then continue that connection. Hint: Compassion will win the day.

Once you DO earn that connection, ask yourself:

• What do you ultimately want them to do? What is the big picture goal for them that will help you reach yours?

• What will their first step be? You will rarely find someone who will jump in with both feet after the first contact, so what do you want them to do next?

• How will you keep them engaged until they do something that really counts, like a bankable action? What is your strategy to keep them engaged throughout your funnel so they don’t chase too many other squirrels or jump on to your competition’s bandwagon?

• How will you make their path easier? What can you do to enable their success and remove friction points?

• How much of the process can you scale and automate?

Connection and Action

Connection comes from knowing your audience, speaking to their inner needs, proving your words with your actions, and making it easy for the right people to say yes.

Action comes from having a product or service that serves a specific group of people, a message that truly resonates with those people, and a process that draws them into your orbit - and keeps them happily there until they are ready to say yes.

Only then is it time to start paying for attention.

If you're tired of throwing your money into the black hole of attention and you' ready to embrace process.

Book your free 15 minute discussion here


6 Brand Types That Scare People Away


Yesterday I walked into the office of a small service business. The employees were listless, un-effected and looked at me as if I was interrupting their day. On the wall behind them in huge letters was their mission: 

"We deliver integrated solutions to our diverse customer base with passion and conviction through focused effort"

 What?

  

I looked at it quizzically, smiled and asked the employees, “see that statement on the wall?” Several listless employees looked up. " Does that statement really inspire you?”  I was met with heart-felt laughter. The first passion I’d seen in them in all of my encounters.

They couldn’t help it; they were in the grips of a Zombie Brand!!!!

Over the past 25 years of growing Brands With Heart™, I have identified 6 common types of brand monsters.  If your brand is one of these you are probably driving the people, who could genuinely use your help, into the open arms of your competition. 

People are bouncing from your site before they even understand how you can help them. You feel downward pressure on your prices because customers commodify you like a can of soup they can take off the shelf. And your margins are getting razor thin. Employees, if you can keep them, are squabbling, unfocused and productivity is always a challenge. 

 If your brand is one these, get help now! 

 #1 The Zombie Brand


Description:  

The zombie brand is the most common brand monster. We see it in businesses of all sizes, from one person to 1000 people. It is only half alive and doesn’t appear to have any heart. Its’ only vocabulary seems to be limited to “more brains” (translation: we do something really well but can't articulate it to either our customers or employees). It’s the brand that blends in and you don’t even notice it because it’s well, kind of boring.

It typically travels in packs, elbow-to-elbow with its main competitors, and rarely breaks from from the herd. So it’s always competing fiercely.  If you have a zombie brand, the copy on your website sounds more like a machine than a human.

If you are a Zombie Brand, the language in your marketing is vague, clichéd, and reactive. You sound like everyone else in your industry and your strategy to stand apart is by trying to impress people with your accomplishments. 

Your marketing material uses more we’s and I's, than “you” and “yours”, and as a result your customers rarely make a true connection. Your vision and mission are just invisible words you spent a $1000 to frame behind your receptionist’s desk. No one reads them, and if they do, they are received more as a joke than inspiration or direction. 

Who Is Most Likely To Have A Zombie Brand?  

Zombie brands are common throughout the business world, non-profit and government sectors.

Pitfalls of A Zombie Brand 

Zombie brands fail to inspire people with a greater purpose. Employees come and go, productivity is always an issue, communication (or the lack of) is adding more and more cost to your bottom-line, and customers see no reason to stay loyal.  Zombie brands are constantly reacting to their competition. They have to invest more to establish brand, create more programs to engage employees and bring in more consultants to replace falling off body parts.

What To Do Now If You Have A Zombie Brand

Give your brand a beating heart! 

Go back to your brand's foundation. Rediscover your vision, your purpose and your mission. Don't get trapped in finding the words to describe your present state. Think about what's really fundamentally important to you, what your customer's, or the world can expect if they follow your vision, and how you are going to get there once the right core of people join you.

Sometimes outside help is essential because they can see you more objectively than we see yourself. After all, how many zombies actually know that they are zombies? 

#2 The Mummy Brand

 

Description: 

Mummy brands always playing it safe so rarely make a deep, or lasting, impact with anyone.

The mummy brand is wrapped up so tight that no one can look inside to see its value. It is always busy learning and hoarding more information and is afraid to share because the competition might “steal” it’s brilliance. 

The mummy brand is always saying to itself “ if I only get this last piece together” I can share with the world and finally start making the difference I know I was made to make. 

Who Is Most Likely To Have A Mummy Brand? 

Mummy brands are very common with inventors, coaches, consultants, creatives, professionals, and entrepreneurs. 

Pitfalls Of A Mummy Brand

If you have a mummy brand even your closest friends and customers, often recommend the work you know you do best - to your competition- because you never told them how you could make a difference for them. You never shared the actual transformation you offer. So to them, what you do is simply a product. Something they can commodify and take off the shelf like a can of soup. 

When someone first visits your site they have a hard time finding value. Sure they may be able to tell “ what ” you do, but they can’t see how that can help them address their immediate need today, or what their next step is. So they bounce, never to return. 

You’re spending far too much on marketing that ‘s creating fewer returns than putting your money in a savings account. As a result you struggle with competition, lower margins and keeping your revenue pipeline full. You find it almost impossible to get through the gatekeepers to any BIG decision maker and even if you do, you struggle to communicate your value.

You’re working far too many hours for far too little and you’re losing faith. 

What To Do Now If You Have A Mummy Brand 

Stop Hiding! Tear off your bandages and reveal the beating heart of your brand!

If not now when? It's time to just trust that your brilliance won't be stolen, people won't laugh at you (and if they do who cares), and every month that goes by without you stepping forward is a month's income at your peak you are letting slip away. Focus on what you do best, the transformation you deliver, the terms people are searching for that describe what you do, and just get out there.

Sometimes you need an outside cheerleader. Someone who can start unraveling the bandages just enough to set you free to do the rest.


#3 The Vampire Brand


Description: 

The vampire brand sucks time, money and attention.

The vampire brand is always promoting itself. It is in constant sell mode. Vampire brands Trap their audiences in a one-sided conversation and that conversation is all about them.

A vampire brands continually brags about how great it is and is always trying to sell you something.  Every time you open your email box the vampire brand is trying to suck money out of your wallet, suck your time into a meeting or webinar to sell you something or tell you how great their “friend” is so they can get an affiliate commission.

Who Is Most Likely To Have A Vampire Brand? 

Vampire brands are very common in sales, financial planning, health and fitness and Internet marketing.

Pitfalls Of Having A Vampire Brand

If you have a vampire brand people are fleeing you like they flee that one-sided conversation at a cocktail party. They are opening fewer and fewer of your e-mails and eventually unsubscribing. 

A vampire brand quickly becomes invisible while your competitions, the brands with heart, are attracting all your living human customers. If you have a vampire brand that only contacts people when you need something, the list of those good-hearted people will keep dwindling until there is no one left.

What To Do Now If You Have A Vampire Brand

Stop Sucking! Create a brand that shares, welcomes and extends its helping hand.   

Start sharing more helpful tips. Share your expertise AND your unique personality. Start writing FOR your audience, instead of at them. Engage in conversations. Make it easy to say yes. But most of all, listen!

Sometimes you will need outside help to reframe your message and write it to connect with and move your audience. That's OK. All great brands hire their weaknesses.

 #4 The Frankenbrand


Description:

A frankenbrand is one who glossed over all the foundation elements of brand building.

You’re visual identity looks like it was pieced together from salvaged parts. There is no flow or consistency to your website. Your marketing materials don’t support each other and people don’t know what you stand for. 

If you have a frankenbrand you are in the company of many. The Frankenbrand is a hodgepodge of many different elements. It is like poor urban planning with angry traffic looking for anywhere to escape. Different messages are competing for attention. Fonts and colors on your website and marketing materials are chaotic at best, or worse juvenile, and your audience ends up terribly confused. And a confused visitor bounces, trashes your e-mails and runs away screaming into the arms of your competition. 

Who Is Most Likely To Have A Frankenbrand? 

Frankenbrands are very common with coaches, healers, solo professionals, and construction trades.

Pitfalls Of Having A Frankenbrand

Frankenbrands repel better than they attract.

People need to trust you before they enter your orbit. They need to have confidence that you are a competent professional. You may have 10 times the skills of your competition but if your competition has created a welcoming, authority building brand with heart, and you have a frankenbrand, who do you think will attract more business? 

Frankenbrands are always competing for the scraps of those who have invested in building brand. If yours is a Frankenbrand get used to extending your arms to embrace a new person and having your heart torn out as they continually run towards your less conscious but better branded competition. 

What To Do Now If You Have A FrankenBrand

Give your brand a warm smile, welcoming arms, and a fresh change of clothes

Continuity is essential. Get back to your foundation. Create visual standards, tone standards and re-immerse everyone in your vision of the future and how you are going to make it a reality.

Create a marketing map and make sure everything reinforces each touch point and that they all lead to your single pre-sale, pre-recruitment, or pre-donation action. A marketing map can be an epiphany for so many. If you don't know how one works, get help. It can reduce marketing waste by double digits
.

 #5 The Werewolf Brand


Description: 

The werewolf brand changes with the phases of the moon.

It loves chasing squirrels and shiny things and gets constantly sucked in by the latest greatest thing. As a result its messages constantly seem to change. At one moment it can be a friendly welcoming brand, then it reads a book on false scarcity and overnight it becomes a brand that feeds on your fears. Then it reads a book on authenticity, goes over the top and starts wanting to hold your hand before you’ve even said hello. 

Who Is Most Likely To Have A Werewolf Brand? 

Werewolf brands are very common with artists and oddly enough with fast growing businesses with multiple business units. In the latter, they manifest themselves because the foundational brand building work was skipped and you have several different personalities building brand without a map or direction. 

Pitfalls Of Having A Werewolf Brand  

The werewolf brand changes so quickly that it never builds trust or traction. People think they know how you can help them, and then you change. They warm up to you, and then you scare them away. The werewolf brand swings wildly between the fake and the flake. As a result people come in and out of your orbit, but rarely stay for the duration. You are rarely shared or referred to because no one knows what you will be offering tomorrow. They’re afraid that YOUR inconsistency will harm THEIR reputation. 

The werewolf brand loves tactics. It focuses on the latest marketing shiny thing at the expense of process. It’s always trying to get attention, but unfortunately when that attention comes there’s no way of knowing whether people will see the human side of your brand, or run screaming from the werewolf. Income is feast and famine.

There is no predictability and you feel like you’re a dog chasing a squirrel you’ll never catch... and it’s taunting squeaks haunt you while you try to sleep. 

What To Do Now If You Have A Werewolf Brand


Get Your Canine Under Control. Give Your Brand Some Focus.

Be consistent in your message and your tactics. Stop chasing the newest shiny thing all the time. Get back to basics. Create a strong foundation (your brands beating heart), a clear process to get people to express interest, move that interest to engagement and then to action. Finally focus on your story, why people should care and what you want them to do next.

Stop focusing on tactics alone. They are a bottomless black hole to continual suck away your time and money. Tactics are always a waste unless they include these five essential elements:1) Engagement 2) Call to action 3) A reason to take that action 4) A process to measure how many people, and who, took that action, and 5) A way to interpret your data, learn from it, refine what is working and scrap what is not.

At first, this may seem a little daunting, so get some help. Pretty soon it will all come together and you'll wonder why you didn't get the help sooner.

 #6 The Ghoul Brand


Description:

The ghoul brand is one who seems to exist to scare you. Their brand seems to be ripped out of the ‘Pain Points 101“ manual.

Your ghoul brand thrives on telling people what may befall them. It feeds on pain, fear, and anxiety.  It treats symptoms, and often charges a monthly fee, but rarely seeks to diagnose the underlying problems and actually cure their customers.

A ghoul brand sells on pain instead of possibilities. It often seems cult-like in its approach. 

Who Is Most Likely To Have A Ghoul Brand? 

Ghoul brands are very common in multi-level and network marketing, late night infomercials and old style advertising. 

Pitfalls Of Having A Ghoul Brand
 
You can only focus on people’s pain so long before your brand becomes a ghoul and seeks only pain. You may have limited to genuine financial success in the beginning, but ghoul brands are not sustainable and they come and go like fads.  The type of audience you prey on moves on to another ghoul and you either have to re-invent yourself, change your name or look for a different approach.

Ghoul brands are dark clouds and I usually run away screaming.

What To Do Now If You Have A Ghoul Brand

Lift your dark cloud! Inspiring people always works better. 

If you have this type of brand, you're probably not reading this article but if you are: please stop trying to scare people into liking you and your products. It's not a sustainable strategy and it's kind of mean. Get help with someone who understands the soft sell, someone who understands that you can lead more people to action through compassion. 

 

7 Signs Your Brand Needs Heart

 

What Is A Brand With Heart?

A brand with heart is one that comes to life because it expresses the beating heart of your business. Your amazing vision, your core values, and the passion you have to change your industry - or even the world - all breathe life into your brand.

Brands with heart exist to improve on the way things are currently done and are often focused on improving lives, communities and our world.

By nature they are bandwagons that people love to jump on because their visions are so clear and so inspiring. They keep people engaged because they are working for something that matters! They become the story your raving fans begin telling themselves about your products or services and the source of endless referrals.

The crazy thing is, so many people with huge hearts create brands without heart.

A brand without heart always struggles with competition, downward pressure on margins, and retaining great customers and employees.

Is your brand holding you back from making the difference you could make and winning the projects you should be winning?

 

1- Your Message Is Getting Lost In The Sea Of Mediocrity


You and your people are amazing at what you do, but there are just so many other messages, emails, distractions... vying for the attention of the individuals you need to reach.

You know you can help them better than anyone, but you just need to be able to part the sea of endless mediocrity to get through.

If only you could reach through their computer screens, gently grab their chins and say “ listen please, I am saying this for your own good”.

Well you kind of can.

Creating a brand with heart ... will attract them to you. It will compel others to share because YOUR beating heart is connecting with THEIR beating hearts. This is not flaky hippy stuff; this is simply marketing to humans.

You will be saying something  human in a brandscape of talking machines, robotic emails and one-sided conversations trying to use their confusion to sell them something.

You will stand out from the herd of lifeless zombies and your staff will spend less of their time, and your budget, chasing shiny things. Instead they will focus on people who have already put their hands up and screamed, “ Tell me more”.

Brands with heart stand out in a sea of lifeless zombies 

2- People Start A Conversation And Quickly Excuse Themselves


You’ve invested in all the right “ todays shiny things ”. You bought 500 promotional products to attract people to your booth. You invested in pay per click advertising, and Facebook ads, to draw traffic to your site. You wrote a few posts for LinkedIn, and spent a bit more on traditional media. Now you’re getting traffic. People are drawn to your trade show booth, your website, your landing pages... but then they bounce, and often never look back.

It’s like that conversation people flee from because it’s either too one-sided, or there’s no connection and they get bored.

How many times have you signed up for an offer and then the next 9 out of 10 emails offer no real value to you. You archive the email and go on with your day. After a couple of weeks of this, their emails become invisible. You delete them without opening them and eventually unsubscribe.

If you can't keep people engaged, they will leave. If it’s a high value customer they will often cross you off the list and leave for good. You will become as invisible to them as those words hanging over your reception desk that read, “Our mission is to...”

Creating a brand with heart engages people, with purpose, from the beginning. They will ask more questions, start picturing the possibilities of working with you, and become invested in your vision. They will want to keep in contact to see how your living brand grows, learns and stumbles. Many will help you rear your new life. Some will even squeeze its cheeks... Yuk!!!

The time it takes for someone to say yes will get shorter, you’ll waste less money on tactics that go nowhere, and the limited marketing budget you do have will become ultra-focused on those people who are engaged in your vision.

Brands with heart always engage the “ Tell me more” at networking events

 3- Time Vampires And Freebie Seekers Are Draining You


You're attracting plenty of people through all of your marketing efforts, but they don’t seem to be the right kind. There are so many people that want to pick your brain until your grey matter starts unraveling like a poorly knitted sweater... and of course for free. 

Or you just seem to attract the types that just want to talk about anything... mostly themselves and their problems. Time vampires will suck you dry if you give them the chance. Then there are the freebie seekers. These are the people who have no interest, or need, for what you offer, they just want something more for free. By enabling them, you are enabling their problem. Stop!

There is a place for charity, and it should be a huge part of your brand, but charity is not enabling hoarding behavior at the expense of your budget or brand.

Save time, money and hair!

Brands with heart keep people on topic. They attract the people who see, and believe in your vision to the point that they will identify and pre-qualify themselves before they ever make contact.

You will waste less time and money hoarding garlic to repel the time vampires and more time in conversations that help both you and the people you serve.

Brands with heart attract constructive energy 

4- You’re Becoming A Digital Hoarder


There doesn’t seem to be a day when you don’t see something new in your inbox, say to yourself “that seems like a good idea” and go spiraling down another rabbit hole for hours on end. This often happens because there are too many paths to follow, too many experts telling you which is the best path, and too much content that is just useful enough to keep distracting you. And it will keep on happening until you create your brand’s beating heart.

When you purposefully identify the beating heart in your business or program, your brand’s foundation will begin revealing itself and it will start determining what is important and what is just another squirrel sent by the “gods of competition” to derail your focus.

Your natural instincts will kick in, because your brand will no longer be separate from you, and your instincts will let you know what to focus on and what to delete immediately. Content will come so much easier. You’ll gain focus, and reduce overwhelm. And you’ll stop driving the people who were meant to work with you, to your competition, because they never knew how awesome you really are.

You’ll waste less time chasing gurus and more time purposefully following your own path... to realizing that you have been the guru all along.

Brands with heart have focus and direction

 

5- Likes Are Great For Your Ego, But They Don’t Really Fill Your Tummy


People are liking and commenting on your blog and your social media posts are buzzing, but likes don’t pay the bills. They are drawn to your trade show booth and you’re having great conversations, but you never hear from them again. Your videos are being watched and shared like crazy but no-one is visiting your site, picking up the phone, or scheduling a meeting.

If people don’t know what you want them to do, they will do nothing.

Focusing on ego-metics like impressions, views, and likes are great... if you have a virtually bottomless bank account... but for us mere mortals we need to focus our limited budgets on something that makes a real difference as soon as possible. Like qualified leads, sales, donations, recruitment, accident reduction and real actions towards social change.

Creating a brand with heart gives people a reason to take action that counts. And their inner voice tells them to follow through because, it’s not only good for them, but it’s the right thing to do.

You’ll ask for action, see action and measure progress towards your vision. That’s what we like!

Brands with heart inspire more people to follow through

 

6- You're Getting Referrals But Not For The High Paying Transformational Work You Do Best


You’re getting all sorts of referrals- but they are not for what you do best. You created amazing results for that last client but when it comes to referrals, it’s often her assistant that answers the phone and sends referrals your way.

If she doesn’t know the scale of what you provide, she will always refer you for what she knows - or understands of your services - and this is often the lowest common denominator.

I'll share an example that happened to me:

A leader contacted me to help his business stand apart at a high stakes recruitment event overseas. I created a very unique dimensional advertising piece that engaged individuals and enabled them with the tools they would need to make the decision. Within the package was a very customized promotional product, copywriting, a web key and enablement resources. The leader wanted two engineers.  We targeted 12 and he ended up hiring three.  He was over the moon. It also won two national awards for recruitment marketing and garnered him national press.

Meanwhile, one of his assistants was responsible for taking delivery of the packages and ensuring they made it safely overseas. She never saw the research, strategy and copywriting components.  She was only privy to the finished product.

A few weeks after the big victory I got a phone call from a referral. The lady said, " So and so (the assistant) said you could help us with our company swag.

I paused for a moment and made a decision. In retrospect maybe not my greatest decision.

I took the business and learned a huge lesson. I was being referred not for the transformation that I created but for the end product. A thing, not a result. 

I took the business and continued to take the business. I was controlling entire organizations promotional products and apparel budgets. Then I woke up one day and realized that 80% of my clients were referrals and not for what I do best. I had effectively let referrals reposition my brand.

I was this guy everyone was hiring to compassionately reach high value targets with amazing success rates but now all of a sudden I became the guy who supplies cool swag.

Things had to change.  I had to reposition myself as the guy I was. The one they hire to compassionately reach high value targets, to move communities to action, to deliver highly charged topics with sensitivity.

The only way to do this was to rebrand and rebrand with heart.

Brands with heart take control of referrals, testimonials and inspire people to refer you for the amazing transformation you deliver, the problems you solve, the awesome experience you offer.

Brands with heart are allowed to evolve. They are allowed to break through stereotypes and create spaces of their own. Most importantly, the ability to say NO makes them even more valuable.

Brands with heart attract referrals for what they are passionate about doing - Something I learned the hard way

 

 7-The Worst One: Even You Think Your Brand Is Boring


You’re technically amazing at what you do and you deliver astounding results for the clients you have, but you know you could reach people on and at a higher level.

Your employees are productive but seem to be somewhat directionless. There is a fair amount of infighting, complaining, and questioning why they are doing things this way and what they are trying to achieve. Little factions are arising with rebel generals of their own and long-term allies are acting like battle weary veterans. It all feels like a tightly wound coil about to SNAP!

Contractors are following their own vision of how things should be done when their work is supposed to represent you. The lifeless mission and vision statements on your wall have become an invisible piece of abstract art that inspires no one, except for the occasional sarcastic belly laugh.

Your website is one-sided conversation bragging about how great you were and is kind of sounding more like the high school football star who now sells shoes.

Customers are referring you less, and what they do refer you for are the small jobs. Employees are acting listless, defeated and bored, and all you can do is think of ” your next escape from it all”. Your exit strategy is looking positively anemic. Who wants to buy a business without a beating heart?

Brands with heart inspire people. They empower partners who adopt your vision to keep moving forward. They enable people to express themselves, and more importantly their true brilliance, in pursuit of a common vision.

They inspire people to do things like joining you to change the world together, screaming your name from the mountaintops, or just throwing kisses and cash your way.

They breathe life into all of your messages and create causes that take on lives of their own.

Brands with heart catapult you out of bed every morning 

 

Is Content The New Swag



DoBetter! ™ 
marketing started with our frustration with trinket peddlers.  You know those mug , pen and shiny thing salesmen who convince you that slapping your logo on something and "getting your name out there" will somehow magically grow your business?

As I looked into this phenomenon I found it wasn’t limited to swag.  Businesses are continually trying to set themselves apart by choosing the latest media shiny things.  

Some “ expert” tells you that you’ve gotta have a business Facebook page, so you set up your page.  Then someone else tells you that webinars are the best way to reach your audience, so you do webinars.  Then someone, with no marketing background, comes along and sells you on the idea that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Pay Per Click advertising are the magic bullets.  So you drop a few more thousand there.

But after all of your time and effort you’re not sure if you are any further ahead than when you started.  You’re frustrated in marketing because you have no idea what’s working and what’s not.

The natural human response is to conclude that swag doesn’t work, social media doesn’t work, SEO doesn’t work , and PPC advertising doesn’t work.  So you move on to the next media shiny thing.  Content and inbound marketing anyone?

The real problem isn’t with the swag, social media, radio, print or SEO.  These are just media forms.  The problem isn’t with tactics. 

The problem is with conversion. 


People are receiving your messages. They just aren’t taking action.

This is a big problem for you!

In our 20+ years of experience, the most common problem has never been the latest shiny thing.  It always comes down to marketing fundamentals.  

Tactics and media choice are meaningless unless you have:

A Solid Brand Foundation

A solid marketing foundation answers who your audience is and why they should choose you before any one else vying for their time and money and you communicate this with words that matter.  Too many enterprises get caught up in either saying the same things as their competitors or using generic boring words that have become meaningless because they are so overused.  "Solutions, creative, the leading…". You get the point.

A Clear Marketing & Conversion Process

A clear conversion process moves your audience from stranger to bankable action, to eager brand advocates and happy referral sources. 

Too few companies have a clear conversion process and even fewer automate that process.  
Copywriting That Connects On A Human Level

Good copywriting incorporates empathy and compassion to humanize your pitch. It is reader centered, engaging and always includes a hook and a call to action.

Solid Metrics

Clear metrics tell you where your best converting traffic is coming from, which tactics are converting them at a higher rate, and what is most important to them of everything you offer. You may be surprised with the answers! 

Religious Adherence To Your Data

Data is a moving target that continually shifts your tactics and even your foundation, but with good data you are always tracking a moving target not blindly throwing darts in the dark.  This wastes enormous amounts of time, money and hair.  


Whatever you goal is, once you have a good foundation, a clear conversion process and good data to work from you can’t help but DoBetter!  All of your tactics and media choices will become clearer and you can focus your budget on doing more of what is working best.

To begin the discussion of how we can help you DoBetter!  Click Here .  
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