In our previous articles, we discussed the importance of winning customer’s hearts with your brand and how to win your customers for life. This article looks at the ever-increasing power of customers’ voices and how you can harness them to spread positive messages about your brand.
Word of mouth is not new. Consumers have always spread messages and recommendations, influencing each other’s emotional and rational decision-making. It’s the visibility of these that has never been so great. The popularity and accessibility of sharing information and experiences has made being talked about an extremely persuasive marketing tool as well as a potentially devastating detractor.
Leveraging the target audience to spread brand messages is an approach epitomised by Apple’s new product launches. Very little is known about the new phone, tablet, watch or laptop prior to their grand launch at one of Apple’s event spectacles. Instead, Apple leverages its vast and loyal fan base, as well as industry influencers, to build speculation and intrigue. This creates a sense of excitement around the brand and its product launches every time there is an announcement of an upcoming media event from the giant’s PR team.
The results we are all familiar with; millions of customers worldwide pre-ordering and queuing outside stores overnight to get their hands on a new product.
But what if the noise around your brand isn’t good? While brands can’t prevent or control negative conversations, it’s how they respond that will ultimately determine their success or failure. A scenario that is reflected by the VW emissions scandal that was played out on the world stage for all to see.
Previously known for its family values and reliability, this powerhouse in vehicle manufacture was revealed to have knowingly misled both legislators and its customers. Since VW’s false information on their emissions and the controversial media uproar that followed, we are yet to see an open and upfront response from the company. Rather than addressing the issue, VW have carried on their advertising as if nothing happened. This indirect denial is what leaves many loyal customers with a bad taste for a brand, which is a crucial mistake you must avoid.
The almost unlimited opportunities for customers to connect with what they value most when making a purchase means it has never been more important for a brand to be proactive in managing perceptions of its reputation. They need to engage with their audience’s interests and values in exchanges throughout decision-making experiences. These experiences should inspire others to be ambassadors and spread the word.