A New Year THINKABOUT!

Happy January—the month of all sorts of resolution making! It’s hard to resist the desire to start anew with a clean slate each year. Something in us likes that blank blackboard/screen feel and the  “do-overness” ability that comes with a turn or click of the calendar. But whether or not the act of resolution making resonates with you, I do advocate the practice of taking a pause for a New Year ThinkAbout with your brand leaders to reflect together on two powerful verbs. Ask yourselves these questions:

Happy January—the month of all sorts of resolution making! It’s hard to resist the desire to start anew with a clean slate each year. Something in us likes that blank blackboard/screen feel and the “do-overness” ability that comes with a turn or click of the calendar. But whether or not the act of resolution making resonates with you, I do advocate the practice of taking a pause for a New Year ThinkAbout with your brand leaders to reflect together on two powerful verbs. Ask yourselves these questions:

  1. How well did you WOO and WOW your customers last year?
  2. What are your plans to live out these verbs in a fresh and meaningful way this year?

WOO and WOW: Six letters with all sorts of magnificent brand potential. Short and simple little verbs that can easily get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of omnichannel strategy creation, personnel issues, financial plan execution and competitive activities springing up all around you. But these two verbs should be at the forefront of your best brand thinking. Here’s why:

• Wooing is a full-time, year-round, relationship-building branding activity. When brands forget to woo, that is, continually win over, both potentially new and, of course, existing customers throughout all their touchpoint interactions, these customers can turn elsewhere. When customers feel their business (and time and attention and wallets!) are taken for granted, unappreciated and or even assumed, they can start to slip away. You may or may not even notice at first … it may be subtle: one less purchase from you, one extra month between transactions.

• Wowing is a full-time, year-round, relationship-building branding activity. When brands fail to keep pace with their customers’ needs, when they keep doing more of the same, when they don’t stay a step ahead of their competitors or disrupt their own successes, they stop wowing customers. Customers get bored, fatigued and even worse, distracted by those competitive brands that are indeed wowing.

So, who is your Chief Wooing Officer? Who is your Chief Wowing Officer? What’s their action plan for 2014? Better yet, why not have a thinkabout incorporating wooing and wowing as a full time, company-wide, all-brand ambassadors’ initiative this year?

The A-Z List of Stop That! Behaviors

In the April issue of Target Marketing, I wrote about 26 verbs that sometimes get in our way when we’re building brands that we want our customers to be passionate about. Now that I’ve transitioned my Brand Matters column from print to digital, I’ve decided to give you 26 more! Use this checklist as a reminder to review your brand practices. No doubt, we all slip into some of these behaviors unintentionally.

In the April issue of Target Marketing, I wrote about 26 verbs that sometimes get in our way when we’re building brands that we want our customers to be passionate about. Now that I’ve transitioned my Brand Matters column from print to digital, I’ve decided to give you 26 more!

Use this checklist as a reminder to review your brand practices. No doubt, we all slip into some of these behaviors unintentionally. I encourage you to take some “Stop & Think” time with your brand team and have the necessary and fierce conversations about your latest offerings and evaluate them through these lenses:

Aggravate: What is niggling at you that might be perceived (big or small) as an annoyance to your customers?

Boggle: Are you giving your customers too many choices to consider?

Cannibalize: Might you be threatening your own market share in some way?

Doubt: What areas of your offering raise concern for your customers? Value perceptions? Price parity? Benefits? Competitive differentiation? What will you do about it?

Embarrass: What was your OOPS or DO OVER with this latest offering? Have you fixed it for next time? What is your post-mortem procedure for reviewing these things?

Forgot: Look over your offering carefully … what might you have overlooked by mistake?

Grovel: Are you asking your customers to do too much? Who is working for whom? How will you rectify that?

Inundate: Offering too much? How will you know what is “just right?”

Juggle: How many messages do you want your customers to absorb? How will you limit those or prioritize them strategically for maximum impact?

Know How: What special insider knowledge do your customers need to know to do business with you? Is that fair? How will you inform the newbies?

Loathe: A hard question for sure … but what don’t your customers like about you?

Mimic: What have you done that is totally UNLIKE your competitors these days?

Negate: What are you doing that detracts from your brand?

Obstacle: What hoops might your customers have to needlessly jump through to do business with you? How will you find out?

Pester: Are you asking your customers questions you intend to do nothing about? Why bother?

Quibble: What terms do you make your customers fight over In relation to your offering? Is that really necessary? How do your competitors handle the same issue?

Reverse: Is there any aspect of your offer that reverses your brand promise even in some small way?

Stagnate: In the last 12 months, what have you decided to do differently to stay relevant to your customers’ changing needs?

Taunt: How is your brand teasing your customers in negative ways?

Underestimate: Have you taken your customers loyalty for granted in some way?

Vex: What keeps you up at night about your customers’ behavior in relation to your brand? How will you solve this puzzle?

Water Down: Have you diluted your brand message in some way by too many stories? Too much information? Too little focus?

[E]Xit: What was your parting message to your customer? Brand enhancing or brand detracting? (Brand neutral doesn’t count!)

Yank: Are you pulling your customers toward your brand or away? How?

Zipped: Great brand stories are meant to be shared. Have you zipped your customers’ lips by not creating a shareworthy experience?

Take a look at these “what not to do” verbs. Create your own list. Let me know what happens!