BRAND MAKES A SALE

Abstract:

What happens after a brand makes a sale? What kind of engagement does it establish with a customer who has just checked out? What are the opportunities there lying untapped?

Main Article:

Marketers put into brands crores of money just to make the brand take off and be visible to its target audience. They calculate ROI of the brand over a period of time, in a variety of markets and estimate when the brand will start delivering real profits. But the fact marketers need to wake up to is that ROI is not just what is in the coffers today. It is what mind-space the brand owns, not the one achieved through repeated bombardment of the customer and his surroundings with advertisements but by walking with them after they make their purchase. Brands are best positioned in the buyer’s mind when they engage with the customer soon after a purchase has been made.

The immediate moments after the sale is made is the most crucial time for a brand. The buyer is most emotional then, the feeling ranging from elation to slightly unhappy to doubtful to sorry. Connecting with him through promotional material, a text message, an e-mail with or without a reimbursable coupon for his next purchase, sharing an excitinginformation about their buyin-store or outside of the store along with a customer helpline number or e-mail address will add a lot of value to the brand. It is proof that the brand cares about him and what he buys. It is reassuring. Whatever your marketing campaigns scream, people come back to brands for the reassurance they provide, not taking into account whether you engaged with the customer post-purchase or not. So imagine how far a little concern from the marketer can go in uplifting the brand’s image in the mind of the customer.

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Most marketers and loyalty program managers are missing out on a unique opportunity to connect with their customer in a way all their advertising and promotional tactics cannot. It may be referred to as the missed opportunity of the sale receipt.

What is surprising is that retail outlets and online sellers who are best placed to get to their customer communication ecosystem fastest rarely do so. Online marketers have come closer to their customers much better than retail outlets have. Having grown so much technologically, to send a personalised email or text to the buyer’s phone is not complicated or tricky anymore. Every purchase receipt generated should be capable of triggering a communication (email or text) addressed to the buyer instantaneously, even before the shopper steps outside of the store’s doors.

Every marketer knows that more than acquiring newer clients, retaining his clients is the key to the business but rarely invest in the knowledge. The farthest they go is creation of loyalty programs and letting the customer gather loyalty points which can be redeemed later on. At any given moment, the customer is thus forced to be ‘loyalty cardholder’ of not just one business but every brand they ever buy. Lugging around these loyalty cards is something customers are growingly detesting and are largely unwilling to do as well. A loyalty card is no longer a pleasant surprise. Gifting a hundred points to start with on the loyalty card is not really a bonus anymore.

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These are ideas that have been copied and used and overused almost globally. Attempting to retain customers by sending them loyalty cards that go live from the next purchase onward is a fine example of an opportunity lost.

How would you feel if your pharmacy sent you a reminder that it is time to replenish your medicine chest, exactly in time, based on the data of what you bought last month? What if your optician can invite you back for a free service once a month or suggest newer styles that exactly suit your face and lifestyle? What if like Nike does, your fashion retailer gives you an app that will help you stay in touch with styles, dress sizes and their availability based on your earlier preference or even help you manage your weight so that you can fit into more flattering clothes? (Nike has put together new products, services and experiences that directly connect the brand to a customer’s self-image. The services include running apps, style guides and health monitors).

Companies should allocate at least a lean resource to manage and honour the customer who has just shopped with them. This resource needs to be integral to every marketing company if they wish to reengage with the customer in the future. By ignoring customers after they make a purchase, loyalty marketers are creating a vacuum that others are beginning to fill. It is like allowing your competitor to advertise inside your premises.

We are in a time when apps are coming into their own. Apps that track if you’ve taken your meds or your workout routine or your dressing routine make interesting and personalised connections with the customer.

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Marketers need to remember that all postpurchase engagements need not relate directly to the product, it needs to relate to the customer and become a constant reminder of the brand to him by being integral to his every day.

Another largely accessed but unexploited area for brands is the social networking sphere. The idea of most brands is to own a page which they can use to communicate brand messages, new products and product features to their customers. They use social media as a marketing tool, not a post-purchase engagement tool. Brands on social media stand another exclusive chance to connect with their consumers post-purchase which most of them blow up because they are yet to grow up to the idea of post-purchase engagement. Most brand pages on social media are also slow to react to customer comments on the page. They consider it ‘job done’ by making a post and disappearing for a good length of time. The key to establishing a healthy rapport with your page’s guests is not by making constant ‘posts’ but by staying in the loop of conversation, by exploiting ideas that come through the conversations and being an active part of the ‘threads’.

Post-purchase data is a powerhouse of information. They provide valuable information on what kind of customer liked what ‘product’ of yours. They can provide meaningful insight into customer preferences and trends – data which can be successfully used to manage stock or explore options that play along the same lines of your customers’ preference. They also provide scope for figuring out what services/products are moving and which ones need immediate trashing.

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They can also be used to guides by brand owners to improve the brand’s products or services or imagery.

Marketers need to start thinking about how to make their clients value their purchase receipts which are usually trashed on the way home or at the destination. By heightening the value a customer attaches to the purchase receipt, brands stand a chance to reconnect with the customer. So here’s thought for the day. How can the purchase receipt itself be made to be treated like a product? How can one sale receipt trigger another? How can one best exploit the value of a bit of paper that is proof of purchase? These are the pressing questions marketers need to find creative approaches to if they wish to ‘retain’their customers.


BUDDING MANAGERS
MAY 2014 ISSUE


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Author:  buddingmanagers
Posted On:  Tuesday, 10 June, 2014 - 17:24

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