OMD’s Layal Takkiedine on liv­ing up to brand­ing.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - LAYAL TAKKIEDINE Head of mar­ket­ing at OMD

Imag­ine this sce­nario: brand comes up with an amaz­ing idea. Idea gets trans­lated into this beau­ti­ful piece of sto­ry­telling and video gets posted on­line. Brand does not get the re­sponse it ex­pected. Sur­pris­ingly, the fo­cus is not on that piece of con­tent. In­stead, cus­tomers are com­plain­ing about the bad ser­vice they ex­pe­ri­enced with this brand. Thou­sands of dol­lars, countless hours spent by the team, and barely any­one to ap­pre­ci­ate the work that was put into it.

This ex­am­ple re­minded me of a very emo­tional ad for a bank that was aired a while back, whose sole pur­pose was to make the au­di­ence tear up, ev­ery time. ‘We will look af­ter you,’ their slo­gan said. Now, when you ac­tu­ally go to said bank, the ex­pe­ri­ence does make you want to cry, but for a com­pletely dif­fer­ent rea­son. You see, the brand fell short of its prom­ises, high­light­ing the di­chotomy be­tween what was ad­ver­tised and what was real. This is one of the rea­sons more and more peo­ple are los­ing trust in ad­ver­tis­ing.

Now, you might think that nowa­days ev­ery­one knows about the im­por­tance of cre­at­ing a strong prod­uct and ser­vice. (4 Ps, any­one?) Wrong. You’d be sur­prised at how many com­pa­nies for­get the ba­sics and don›t con­sider the prod­uct de­sign, dis­tri­bu­tion, cus­tomer jour­ney, con­ve­nience, re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence and, most im­por­tantly, sales­peo­ple.

Now more than ever the pres­sure is on for these com­pa­nies. Com­pe­ti­tion has made it cru­cial for brands to step up their game – in cus­tomer ben­e­fits, loy­alty pro­grams and faster de­liv­er­ies, to name a few ar­eas.

Un­re­al­is­tic claims will back­fire in a sec­ond and could even cre­ate a back­lash. When re­al­ity hits, peo­ple don’t waste time go­ing on­line and air­ing their frus­tra­tions – mak­ing mis­takes much more ex­pen­sive these days, which is push­ing mar­keters to raise the bench­mark.

Many a time an ad cam­paign has failed not be­cause it was badly de­signed or planned but be­cause it was too far from the ac­tual ex­pe­ri­ence or prod­uct.

So how do you bridge that gap be­tween your ad­ver­tis­ing and your cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence?

It starts with what’s at the core. You need to make sure you get the prod­uct and the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence right first. This means iden­ti­fy­ing and an­swer­ing a need very well, un­der­stand­ing con­sumer as­pi­ra­tions and pref­er­ences bet­ter than your cus­tomers do them­selves. Meet their ex­pec­ta­tions way bet­ter than your com­pe­ti­tion.

Prod­uct de­sign, pack­ag­ing, pric­ing, dis­tri­bu­tion, cus­tomer ser­vices are all touch­points, in­clud­ing ad­ver­tis­ing and other forms of sto­ry­telling. Mar­keters need to be­come their own con­sumers and de­velop a gen­uine em­pa­thy. Only then will they crack the for­mula to de­velop ad­vo­cacy, be­cause who prefers a one-time pur­chase when you can have re­peat busi­ness? We’ve now moved on to em­brace the idea of cus­tomer life­time value. The short-term mind­set needs to be re­placed by – you guessed it – a long-term one. As well as con­ver­sions and per­for­mance, com­pa­nies must build their brand affin­ity with both po­ten­tial and ex­ist­ing cus­tomers.

Ad­vo­cacy starts from within and a cus­tomer’s first point of con­tact makes a long-last­ing im­pres­sion. Start from the in­side, im­merse your­self and your em­ploy­ees in your prod­uct. If your own peo­ple are not con­vinced, then how can they in turn con­vince con­sumers?

Many brands are fac­ing this is­sue, as few have man­aged to build a con­sis­tent ex­pe­ri­ence, from claim to re­al­ity, or at least en­sure that the gap is man­age­able – be it through phys­i­cal in­ter­ac­tions or dig­i­tal ones.

That last mile used to be purely down to the in­di­vid­ual. Be it the shop as­sis­tant, the per­son be­hind the counter or the sales ex­ec­u­tive in the show­room, they ei­ther made or broke the care­fully crafted sto­ry­telling you spent hours de­vis­ing. Tech­nol­ogy is chang­ing all this.

That’s why we’re hear­ing about more and more com­pa­nies chang­ing their struc­tures to bring the roles of mar­ket­ing (CMO) and tech­nol­ogy (CTO) closer to­gether for a seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence. And this is when they start lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy bet­ter than ever be­fore and im­ple­ment­ing au­toma­tion and AI-based cus­tomer ser­vice. This leads to fast, ef­fi­cient and con­ve­nient turn­around that en­riches the ex­pe­ri­ence and sim­pli­fies the re­la­tion­ship. Like Emi­rates NBD en­abling bank­ing through Twit­ter or apps like Uber Eats that are do­ing mass per­son­al­i­sa­tion at scale (where pre­vi­ous or­ders are recorded) and my per­sonal favourite, Ne­spresso’s con­sis­tent ap­proach across all plat­forms (smart web­site struc­ture, knowl­edge­able staff in their stores that heav­enly cup of cof­fee you’re of­fered when you visit).

Many re­tail stores have yet to lever­age the power of cus­tomer re­la­tion­ship man­age­ment (CRM) in this part of the world, and use their clients› in­for­ma­tion and shop­ping be­hav­iour for lit­tle more than just a cel­e­bra­tory mes­sage on their birth­day. Don’t get me wrong, get­ting birth­day greet­ings is nice, but that does not make a re­la­tion­ship. CRM will also al­low mar­keters to garner feed­back, un­earth deep be­havioural in­sights and lis­ten to their con­sumers.

In short, it’s got to start from within. In­vest in your prod­uct, test it out, en­hance it, build trust with your con­sumers, fo­cus on re­search and de­vel­op­ment, then get the best peo­ple to mar­ket it for you and cre­ate beau­ti­ful sto­ries around it. At the end of the day, if your prod­uct or ser­vice doesn’t live up to your con­sumers’ needs, no amount of mar­ket­ing is go­ing to help you. Es­pe­cially in the long run.

So next time you cre­ate a beau­ti­ful piece of work that raises your cus­tomers’ ex­pec­ta­tions, make sure the ex­pe­ri­ence lives up to it.

You see, the brand fell short of its prom­ises, high­light­ing the di­chotomy be­tween what was ad­ver­tised and what was real. This is one of the rea­sons more and more peo­ple are los­ing trust in ad­ver­tis­ing.

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