Rapid Rollouts Are Wrecking Your Brand Story: 4 Fixes
Rumors are already swirling about the new iPhone 11, but most consumers are still trying to figure out what sets the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max apart from each other. And while it's become the norm for Apple to launch multiple phones at once, even the brand’s diehard fans don't really understand the core differences between the product features. Many brands are in the same boat with these rapid rollouts. So it’s important to ensure they don’t wreck your brand story.
Like most brands, Apple is diligently trying to find new ways to serve its customers and expand. Part of that is continuing to bring new, innovative technology to market, but the company continues to struggle with one major challenge: rolling out new offerings at breakneck speeds, without losing the story behind them.
And it's not alone. In a joint study our company conducted with FocusVision, we surveyed 250 senior marketing professionals from mid- to large-sized companies. When asked how often their marketing teams introduced new products to market, roughly half said they did so on a quarterly basis. On top of that, 73% said they introduced new promotions quarterly, too.
Busy, right? But it's more than that, as this cycle has impact throughout the company. Imagine the pressure this puts on frontline teams — they don't even have a full 90 days to get comfortable with new products and messages. Just as they learn one thing, they’re asked to embrace another.
That's a situation no company should take lightly.
The Problem With Rapid Rollouts
In a perfect world, rapidly rolling out new products would just be a great way to drive revenue. But the world is rarely perfect. In reality, too much speed ends up being more of a problem for brands than a strategy for success.
Getting familiar with new products and promotions every three months can feel impossible to even the most passionate, capable frontline employees. They feel overwhelmed by all of the information they're expected to take in. Because of that, the story they're supposed to be sharing about the product becomes diluted in a serious way.
This problem is especially pervasive in the telecom industry, where companies are constantly creating new bundles and packages to secure more market share and become one-stop shops for wireless service, home Internet, and TV.
In the past, my team and I worked with several service providers that were trying to break into the home security and automation spaces. These companies had the necessary ingredients in place for a fantastic rollout and put their frontline teams through days of training on all of the new packages, devices, and installation details.
Their plan to train their team was thorough, but maybe a little too thorough. The training ended up giving employees too much information and too little time to digest it. Suddenly, representatives who were used to talking to customers about download speeds were being asked to discuss motion sensors and Wi-Fi-connected lighting modules — and they weren't ready. They didn’t know how and when to effectively introduce the new products, so many avoided doing it altogether or brought it up at the tail end of customer interactions.
As a result, a shift was needed. These providers had to rethink their tactics, so they started by teaching representatives how to identify customers who were already primed to buy and then share simple value propositions with them. Instead of focusing on the information, they simply needed to get comfortable with how to start a conversation. This change made it possible for frontline employees to promote the new offerings without getting bogged down in too many technical details.
How to Keep Your Front Lines Strong
Bottom line? Representatives need to be able to put new offerings into the context of their day-to-day customer interactions. Here are four ways to bring your reps up to speed and help them be effective brand advocates as your products and services evolve:
1. Segment Your (Internal) Audience
You wouldn’t deliver the exact same message to all of your potential buyers, so keep in mind that you shouldn't take that approach with your representatives, either. It won't work. Consider how reps in different roles are engaging with the customers in different, unique ways, and then provide them with targeted, relevant information that's most helpful to them and meets them where they are.
2. Avoid Information Overload
Most brands err on the side of giving their representatives more information and training than they can possibly absorb. So when it comes to educating them on new offers, keep in mind that less is more. By giving your frontline teams the most basic, relevant information first and then feeding them more a little at a time, it encourages them to ask for more when they can handle it, rather than pushing them away before they ever get started.
3. Get Feedback on the New Material
All of the information you distribute to customer representatives is for their benefit, so you shouldn’t distribute new material without running it by a small group of representatives first and asking for feedback. What do your reps think of the messaging? Is the material helpful? This will open up a valuable dialogue and lead to higher engagement in the end.
4. Spice Up Your Delivery
The way you deliver information is just as important as the information itself. Simply emailing teams a one-sheet or posting some documents on the company intranet isn’t going to grab their attention. Like many things in life, information will have more impact if it's memorable. Consider creating a series of videos that feature team members acting out different scenarios with new offerings or putting together a roadshow where you give reps the opportunity to demonstrate a new product on-the-go.
Making the Brand Story Add Up
In the end, frontline employees might facilitate the only interaction a customer ever has with your brand, which makes them one of your most valuable assets. Taking the time to introduce new products and promotions the right way will pay off not only in sales performance, but also in brand perception.
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Chris Wallace is the president and co-founder of InnerView, a marketing consulting firm that helps companies transfer their brand messages to their customer-facing employees and partners.
InnerView ensures the people who represent your brand have the tools and strategies to tell your company story confidently and consistently. Chris has nearly 20 years of sales, marketing, and corporate leadership experience.