I’m again happy to bring you AmyK Hutchens as today’s guest blogger (last time she was here she talked about reducing stress). No, that’s not her to the left. That’s Kenny from South Park. Here she is:
Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman and CEO of Diamond Resorts International, a company with 150+ branded and affiliated resorts in 26 countries, shared that if you want “to bring value to a busted brand, you start with the details.” For Cloobeck, this means a direct access email address available to every customer and a winning smile with the word “yes” at the tip of his tongue. With these details, and a few others, Cloobeck has built one of the largest vacation ownership companies in the world in an era when the words “time share” can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
How did Cloobeck sustain success despite turbulent times? He started with a brand overhaul, beginning with the classic time share sales pitch. “It was too aggressive,” stated Cloobeck. “We needed to soften the customer experience. We had to bring the value back to a busted brand.” So they shifted the pitch to a connect, and Cloobeck went straight to the consumer’s children to start. When he heard they had a menu kids refused, they added mac n cheese and other child-friendly foods. When he heard the kids were bored, he changed “baby-sitting” hours to outdoor adventure sessions and opportunities for physical and mental activities, and… he added an adult beverage to the “meet & greet” for parents, so they too could have a little more fun. Diamond’s new mantra? We’re listening!
You too can stimulate and reinvent your brand. How do you know if your brand is successful? It creates and retains customers. Successful branding is actually that simple. Ask yourself two questions: What are you promising? How can you best deliver that promise?
One of the first steps in creating a brilliant brand is often one of the hardest: defining the brand mission. This is a strategic step that will make or break a brand. It involves much more than deciding “who you are” and “what you value” and it certainly demands much more than lofty phrases about keeping customers happy. You are not creating a mission statement for everyone to pin on their cubicle corkboard and memorize.
What you can act on and deliver is your brand, not the statement you frame and post on a wall. Great examples of short brand missions that incite action for employees as well as customers include Nike: Just do it; Apple: Think different; Adidas: Impossible is nothing; Timberland: Make it better; and Adobe: Simplicity at work. It’s the difference between asking an entrepreneur of a dress shop to define her mission statement and hearing a response of, “To be a premier dress shop offering top-tier textile products and services,” (yawn!) and asking that same entrepreneur to state her brand mission and hear her say, “Define each person’s divine.” Bull’s eye! She uncovered the actionable magic.
Cloobeck also shared that one of the biggest changes they made was to do away with self-park and provide valet parking to everyone. Result: the perception of prestige and pampering for each customer began the moment they pulled up to the resort. According to Cloobeck, this small change made a huge difference to how the guests felt about and responded to their overall vacation experience.
What two to three small changes or tweaks could you make in your customer relations, product, or service that your customers would actually notice and value? Once you’ve chosen to tweak some things to beat your competitors and raise the quality of your offering, be sure to ask for your customer’s input as well.
What can you do to enhance your brand?
1. Listen to your customers. Ask them directly what 3 changes you could make to better serve them. Then make the changes! And communicate that you listened. Advertising and collateral that markets the message, we asked, we tweaked, we delivered, lets customers know you care and value their opinions. The result? You’ll build brand loyalty quickly.
2. Focus on the details. Look at the small nuances you could tweak to truly separate yourself from the competition… and it starts with “yes” where your competitors say no. The word no should not even be in your vocabulary when interacting with a customer.
3. Clearly define your brand. Aim for the valet parking experience and create the perception you want to define your brand. Brainstorm your top 10 favorite brands. Why do you love them so much? What does each brand do for you that makes you such a customer evangelist? Now, which of these identified traits can you most easily adopt first?
And while “valet parking” may not fit your brand, use the examples above to find what does. Stop pitching and start connecting… for if you don’t, whether it’s valet park or self-park, you may sound more like you’re from South Park if you don’t listen to what they really want.
AmyK Hutchens, Founder and Intelligence Activist, AmyK Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist. She is best known for helping business leaders capitalize on how the brain and human perception filters work to help them be more effective in business and their personal lives. Learn more about AmyK’s live, interactive webinars at http://www.ignitebrilliance.com.