Brand Matters: Are You Listening?
This campaign is a role model of what a brand conversation should be, because it nails the true and unscripted thought patterns of most consumers who are worried about the pain points of financial services. It’s obvious that Schwab executives spent hours listening to customers. The campaign is well thought out and consistent across TV, print, online and direct mail ads, as well as its branch merchandising. Undoubtedly, customers look at the messaging nuances and feel comfortable that Schwab understands their true needs.
Shopping Made Supremely Easy
Another great example of attentive listening is JC Penney’s “Know Before You Go” program. It provides detailed and updated information about products and promotions before customers head to the stores. Say you found a great pair of boots on the Penney’s site or in its catalog, but you want to try them on first. Simply click on the item on the Web site, then select color and size. Under “check on item availability at stores near you,” plug in your ZIP code and up pops a box telling you where you can find this exact item in a store near you.
John Irvin, president of J.C. Penney Direct, recently talked with a reporter from Women’s Wear Daily about the program. “Our shoppers are more frequently using the Internet before ever stepping foot in a store. We’ve done extensive research that shows that nearly 70 percent of customers are online for a purpose other than shopping, including viewing merchandise, comparing prices, finding sales and promotions, and exploring fashion and shopping tips.”
JC Penney employed the “WIIFM?” (What’s In It For Me–the customer?) principle and structured an engaging conversation that maximizes customers’ time and money.
Susan Scott, author of the book “Fierce Conversations,” believes that the conversation is the relationship and that nuances matter. In the Schwab example, you can sense the type of relationship consumers expect from this firm: down-to-earth, personable and trustworthy. In the Penney’s example, customers expect to “shop with options” and therefore anticipate the brand relationship to be one of convenience and friendliness. Because these brand conversations really do set the tone for the customer experience, it’s imperative for brand managers to think strategically about their messaging and pay close attention to subtleties.
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at email@example.com.