Hey there! My name is Ed Howie, and this is Howie Grow A Brand. On this blog, I will be sharing an inside look at our marketing podcast to dive deep into the entrepreneurial world of marketing and branding and talk about how you can set yourself apart and inspire a few million joys while we’re at it.
You’ve got to think about how your brand relates to your customers and how your customers relate to your brand. But I can guarantee you this—everything you do as a brand, and as a business, in your customers’ minds, they’re either giving you a thumbs up or thumbs down.
The question is how do you stand out? How do you pivot? How do you adapt to new and changing trends with your customers, while still being true to your true brand message?
So, here’s the deal. My team and I operate on the belief that every element of your business either magnifies or detracts from your brand. Every element of your business either points up or points down. How do you do that in a way that is replicable for every single customer? Three steps.
Let’s break this down. Every element of your business either magnifies or detracts from your brand. Every single interaction, every single impression, every single glance that a customer gives to your brand is either putting points on the board or taking points away. How do you take that ranking and use it? You’ve got to think strategically. We all want to be the best at this or the first at that, but what it all comes down to is how you operationalize the customer’s experience with your brand. Whether you’re a life insurance agent or you own retail store, this has to be done across the board. So, how do you do that?
ARE YOU A WOOO OR A POOO?
You want to create WOOO, not POOO. By WOOO, I mean that you are Winning Others Over and Over (WOOO). You are creating a loyalty to your brand, your business, right from the start. Whereas POOO means that things were Poorly Orchestrated, Operationalized, and Optimized (POOO), but more on that later. Think about it, whether your customer is walking through your door for the first time or they’re clicking on your website the first time, the first judgment they make about you will be either WOOO or POOO. That may seem oversimplified but think about the last time you stepped into a new business or took a call from someone trying to sell you something. That experience was either a WOOO or a POOO. If a WOOO is your goal, it doesn’t mean everything has to be flawless, but it does mean that a customer’s experience with your brand—no matter what your brand is—has to be intentional. We believe there are three steps to create WOOO.
- Orchestrate – First, you have to orchestrate the customer’s experience. Map out exactly what you want your customer to experience with your brand and why that experience sets you apart from the other brands they could choose.
- Operationalize – Second, operationalize the process. You have to have a process that can be replicated time and time again.
- Optimize – Third, you have to optimize. You have to make sure you know what is most important to your brand and what you want to impact your customer most.
WHAT DO BATHROOMS AND CASINOS HAVE IN COMMON?
Let’s say one of the aspects of your brand guarantees that every customer who uses your restroom finds them clean and sanitary. To ensure this, you have to orchestrate a plan that guarantees the same experience every time. If you have someone walking into your place of business, no matter how hoity-toity, fancy, professional, or world-class you are, every person will need to use the bathroom at some point. If they walk into your restroom, and the experience they have doesn’t match the experience you have already provided to them with other aspects of your brand, they’re going to wonder which experience to believe. This is a basic illustration of the reality that we’re constantly facing. It’s harsh, but it’s true. People constantly make judgments about where they spend their money, where they spend their time, and where they choose to invest. You have to be deliberate about recognizing what a customer’s experience is with your brand, and what parts of that experience are most significant. You must orchestrate the exact experience you want your customers to receive.
Successful brands orchestrate the exact experience they want their customers to receive. Casinos in Las Vegas try to consider every part of a visitor’s experience. Have you ever wondered why almost every casino has a unique aroma to greet you when you enter? Because it creates a positive sensory experience that becomes a brand memory for you. But what are most casinos known for? They’re known for smelling like smoke. So, if you smell daffodils, roses, eucalyptus, or any other pleasant scent when you walk in, it’s not only pleasing, it’s contrary to what most people are expecting. In other words, they have orchestrated a positive memory.
After orchestrating experience, brands must operationalize it. Let’s continue with the Vegas example. Say you’ve decided that you’re going to have the aroma of daffodils misted in the air whenever someone walks into your business. You find a vendor, figure out where to install the atomizer, where to source the aroma, and where to buy the aroma. But when the atomizer is empty, nobody changes out the cartridge. You have orchestrated it, but you didn’t operationalize it. Because you didn’t have a plan to consistently replace the atomizer when it is empty, you were not able to ensure that your brand was delivered a consistent experience for all of your customers.
So, let’s say you orchestrate your brand experience and you operationalize it. When the atomizer empties, someone refills it so you’re never without your chosen aroma, then you realize you can’t afford it. You discover you’re spending more than the amount you budgeted because you’re going through four times the aroma, liquid juice, essential oil, whatever you’re using. Now you have a decision to make. Is there a way to optimize your experience? Can you create it in a more cost-effective way, or do you adjust your budget to pay for your aroma by saving money somewhere that is not as important for your business?
How could you WOOO in the music industry? A composer decides they want to create a composition. They determine how they want the composition to sound. But to achieve their goal, they have to figure out how to get a large group of musicians to work together to make it happen.
MAKING BEAUTIFUL MUSIC
First, the composer maps out the work. They plan it on paper, with sheets of music and notes. Then they break it down into what each instrument’s role is. They map out what the trombone is supposed to do, what the violin is supposed to do, and so on. In other words, they orchestrate it. Next the composer needs a conductor to lead. The conductor leads the orchestra as they practice or operationalize. The orchestra works to have each instrument learn its part as well as how their part intersects, interacts, compliments the work of the other instruments. Through this practice they’re operationalizing their composition. They’re learning how to work together. As they continue to practice, they begin to optimize their processes to deliver the overall composition with perfection, precision, intention, and timing. All of this work creates an even more beautiful composition than could have ever been imagined.
These analogies provide simplified examples of what every brand can do for their business. To be a successful, you must be able to answer the following question: What are the most meaningful parts of the customer journey, the customer experience, your customer relationship, that you need to orchestrate, operationalize, and optimize?Understanding how important this question is and how to WOOO are key components in our “Our First, Best & Only” brand strategy. While it’s difficult to be FIRST, if you’re not the first one to do something, you can be the BEST at execution. If you’re the best at execution, but you’re executing the wrong thing, that best doesn’t matter. It comes down to The ONLY, the differentiation. The point, the matter, the aroma, that you want your customers to experience when they walk in the door. Those things can be as simple as a pleasant aroma or clean restrooms. It can be the way you greet them on the phone, or the way that you actually send a purchase order to your customer, or the way that you hand a customer their bag after a purchase or that you personally package their Amazon or shipping purchase personally. Those little touches, those little details, are what’s going to set yourself apart and allow you to be something unique. These things will allow you to be a brand.