Customer Service Is the Center Core of the Brand

The websites of the mid-to-late 1990s had to offer services that would make it easy for the consumer to engage in the Brand’s online presence. If you couldn’t try the merchandise on or see it in person, the vendor had to make it very convenient to shop and return.

Jeff Bezos realized early on that his knowledge of how to create an infrastructure, a technology platform focused on cutting-edge customer service and ease of use, was the gospel online. He also realized that he could enable many brands the opportunity to sell through his platform. In return Amazon would be paid a small percentage of the sales. Since most retail brands were completely unfamiliar with the Internet and treated it as a foreign language they had not yet learned, they were happy to have Jeff Bezos handle the back-end infrastructure of getting the products to the customer. This was especially vital to getting retailers involved with Ecommerce back in the 1990s. Traditional retailers were afraid if they didn’t have a state-of-the-art presence operationally it would hurt the brand.

The Value of Online Advertising for Brand Awareness

Brand Awareness

On the Internet the education, information, engagement and sales can take place with each view or exposure of the product. This has changed the way brands are advertised. No other point of purchase or media is that powerful.

New media has become much more targeted and efficient for today’s marketing principles. In times past it was all about reaching the broadest audiences possible. Advertisers targeting the mass market could afford television and needed to be on television to keep their engine going, constantly increasing market share. With social media we can pinpoint whom we send our message to. And the online tools for communicating have a lower cost of entry than traditional media like television, newspaper and magazine advertising.

More importantly, with new media you are not advertising to people who do not relate to your product, so there is very little wasted expense. Using advertising budgets in the online environment is a more direct method of reaching out to your specific audience. Online advertising buys can start with very low expenditures which increase the audience substantially. Learning how to use search marketing, keywords, and communicating in the social channels is a valuable branding asset which we will go into in more depth throughout the book.

You can advertise online with a budget of any size to be in the game. To demonstrate the selling power of the online environment, a brand’s website sales increase upward of 20% consistently year after year since the early years of 2000. To compare, the average increase in yearly store sales generally hover around l%-3% per store per year.

Naturally as sales increased so did the online advertising budgets. Over the last five years online advertising has been eating into the budgets for more traditional media at a rapid pace. If executed properly, online marketing can consistently increase online sales and it will precisely measure who is responding to your messaging, affording the brand more precise customer data.

When I started developing online content back in 1995, the online departments of any major company were generally located in the basement with a minimal budget just so the company could say they were in the game. Those budgets have gradually grown into the billions, in large part because of the preciseness of online advertising.

Today, building a brand is about personalizing the brand or the image of the brand in the minds of the consumer. Being able to pinpoint the message becomes more meaningful especially for products that have niche audiences. For big broad-based brands, they too have to learn how to speak to segmented audiences. And the more personalized the voice, the better.

Like everything else, the idea is to keep reinforcing the brand message creatively and emotionally until it registers in the consumer’s mind, and then you keep going continuously. The Internet offers up all new tools for messaging and all advertisers need to adjust their messaging to capitalize on the value of these digital capabilities.

Advertising is also beneficial for lending credibility to an otherwise unknown product. If you go to a website that has resonated with you through advertising, you are more willing to trust the brand and online buying process. There was no brand Way fair a couple of years ago.

Think about whether you would trust them if their commercials creating awareness didn’t help lend credibility to the brand.

The online only brands, or natively digital brands like that have substantial budgets to advertise on television, have the ability to create valuable awareness and credibility quickly because of the reach and frequency of the messaging. Wayfair is everywhere. Their commercials are constant on television especially during the holiday season. And if you purchase a Wayfair product, Wayfair follows you around the web for a very long time with suggestions related to your purchase. This is called retargeting and is a very effective way to connect with a consumer, although it can be annoying. It has to be effective because it is ubiquitous and I am constantly retargeted with suggestions connected to my last purchase, or serving up a product I left in a shopping cart.

Wayfair offers free shipping on everything including large household items. That’s a very powerful draw. They also offer low “direct to consumer” prices. During the pandemic when the public is in isolation, their homes have become their castles. Wayfair commercials are constant. And just like the shoes from Zappos, if the shipping is free and the returns easy, WHY NOT? Wayfair’s follow through and exceptional customer service all aid in pushing the consumer to the actual transaction. Would I recommend them? Absolutely!

Understanding the value of an Ecommerce site and new media advertising allows smaller companies communication access targeting exactly who they want to reach. And it allows big merchants to become more personal.

The Value of Strategic Partnerships for Branding

Fashion and Music are the magic elixirs that can bring a sense of cool to a product. Most fashion brands have very limited marketing budgets. If the fashion brand’s style quotient makes a statement, teaming up with major lifestyle advertisers can create new merchandising/market-ing tools to bring awareness to both partners. Like all partnerships the brands have to be serving the same audiences.

Fashion and music partners add a sense of cool to a brand with big advertising budgets looking for that distinction: the sense of being in the know. Matched with the appropriate fashion brand, any lifestyle product can take on a sense of cool with a fashion brand partnership. This also creates exposure to new audiences within each of their target markets. The fashion brand can always use the exposure. These brand relationships are very engaging in creating a lifestyle feeling about the brand.

As we lay out these major marketing themes that help us build distinctiveness, we will continue to explore how these marketing trends work in today’s marketplace. Defining the brand and the world the product lives in is the starting point. Customer service, strategic partnerships, cause marketing, entertainment and online communication are key strategies that help give the brand exposure in our overabundant market. The message here is to figure out how to make your brand relevant to your audience using all these new tools we now have available.

Remember, the good news is anyone can open a stall and have the world as an audience in our global bazaar. Getting the attention of the consumer to react to our product is the challenge: how to create real excitement around the brand through entertainment and information.

Chapter 2

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