Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Tackling the Special Challenges of Building and Sustaining Strong Service Brands

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

Much of my work over the years has been with “service brands”—brands that are not tied to a particular product, but to the delivery of some type of service—educational services, healthcare services, energy services, engineering services, consulting services, etc.

Developing and maintaining a strong brand for a service is, in my opinion, significantly more challenging than developing and maintaining a strong brand for a product. Why? Because a service is less tangible, more ephemeral—and often involves multiple “touchpoints” that really determine the “brand experience.”

Critical Elements of a Strong Brand

What makes a strong brand? Recognizability. Performance. Consistency.

When we’re talking about a product—a carbonated beverage, for example—recognizability can come through a logo and design, performance comes through the taste of the beverage, consistency is an element of the manufacturing process.

But, when we’re talking about a service, the process of brand management becomes much more complex.

Recognizability

While recognizability is impacted by logos and design elements, there are other factors to consider. If you practice out of an office or a clinic, your physical location and how it looks, how it’s furnished, etc., will impact your recognizability and your brand. Consultants who travel to client locations, for example, are themselves a key component of the brand – including how they dress and the type of vehicle they drive (and how well maintained it is).

Performance

How is a healthcare organization’s performance defined? By the physician? The registration clerk? The distance from the parking lot to the front door? The cleanliness of the facility? The magazines in the waiting room? The delivery of care (and how do we, as non-clinical consumers, measure that?)? Yes—all of these things, and more! For healthcare and other service organizations (which would include restaurants, retail stores, etc.), performance is a multi-faceted process with multiple touchpoints and multiple opportunities to either strengthen or weaken the brand.

Consistency

And, finally, consistency. The greatest challenge of all. While product consistency can certainly be challenging, there are more tangibles to deal with in the product arena. The challenge for service marketers in managing a brand involves managing human inputs and human actions. Significantly more challenging than ensuring that the right physical ingredients are combined in the right proportions in the right environmental conditions to produce a consistent result.

…and the People!

It often comes as a surprise to those in service businesses that managing the marketing process, specifically the branding process, involves a significant amount of focus on managing people. This involves developing and communicating standards and processes. It involves ensuring consistency in such things as how the phone is answered, how employees dress, service standards, hand-offs between departments, how employees talk to and about each other, etc.

Too often as we focus on other important elements of the brand—like the logo, the name, the company colors, the design templates, etc.—we can have a tendency to forget about what is most important about the brand (recognizability, performance, and consistency). In service organizations, we may also tend to forget about the people and the significant impact they have on the customer experience.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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Recommended Reading:

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR

Managing Remote Staff

Direct Mail in the Digital Age

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic Planning

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

Best Practices in Influencer Marketing

Using Google Search Can Help You Save on Market Research Costs: Here’s How

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

by Linda Pophal

All marketers know how important it is to understand their target audience so they can effectively craft messages and select communication channels that will most appeal to them and move them to some desired action. (more…)

“Must Do” Marketing Lessons Learned During COVID-19

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

Customer reviews, client reviews, best PR firm, public relations, content marketingI’ve been doing a series of webinars during the pandemic for a Women’s Business Center in my area on topics related to marketing and maintaining a business presence. As part of the process, I’ve been spending time reviewing, analyzing, and reporting on various best practices that I’ve either seen or that I’ve practiced with clients or my own business. It’s been interesting to watch how many businesses have successfully, and quickly, changed their processes or entire business models to adapt to “the new normal.”

Yet some haven’t. (more…)

The Blurred Lines Between PR, Marketing and Advertising

Friday, November 13th, 2020

There’s a raging — and quite interesting — debate that I continue to see taking place in various online forums about the relationship between PR and marketing. I’ve found it especially interesting because I recently was engaged in the same debate while teaching PR courses at a local university. Surprisingly to me, there is a group that believes quite strongly that PR is not part of marketing: that it is a separate and distinctly different function within an organization.

Frankly, that’s just “crazy talk” to me. (more…)

The 3 C’s of Marketing and STP: How they Align

Thursday, October 29th, 2020
The 3 C’s of Marketing (company, customers and competitors)  is a popular model used to help businesses and marketers develop marketing strategies by encouraging them to think about their customers and what they value, what they have to offer that address what customers value/need, and what others (competitors) are offering. It’s a model that also aligns very well with another three-pronged marketing approach: segmenting, targeting, and positioning.

(more…)

Time-Tested Tenets of Effective Marketing Haven’t Changed in 100 Years

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

In the digital age of rapidly increasing technology and here-today-gone-tomorrow fads in fashion, popular culture and consumer tastes, it can seem like the rules of marketing are constantly changing, rendering obsolete what may have been sound advice just 10 or 20 years ago. But despite the near-constantly changing winds at the edges and frontiers of the marketing industry, the vast majority of the core principals remain unchanged and have stood the test of time. (more…)

No-Cost, Low-Cost Ways to Boost Your Brand

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

We’ve previously discussed the challenges many companies face when trying to calculate an ROI on their marketing efforts. For small and medium-sized businesses, this can make it difficult to justify increasing spend on marketing efforts.

But, just because you feel like you can’t spend more money on marketing doesn’t mean you can’t invest in your brand. (more…)

Goby the Trash Fish and Nudge Marketing

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

Behavioral economics is the study of how and why consumers do not always act rationally —rational behavior is one of the fundamental assumptions underlying classical economics. Behavioral economics helps explain things like why consumers make impulse purchases and incorrectly value goods and services. Two of my favorite behavioral economists are Dan Ariely and Steven D. Levitt, authors of Predictably Irrational and Freakonomics, respectively–two books I highly recommend.

Nudge marketing is a key form of behavioral economics. It involves providing subtle “nudges” to guide human behavior in ways that serve marketers’ needs. Here we take a look at some interesting examples of how elements of behavioral economics can be put to work in the field of marketing.

(more…)

Tesla Charging Stations: Real-World Example of Barriers to Entry

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

by Justin Grensing, Esq., MBA

 

Tesla, the electronic vehicle (EV) company headed by high-profile billionaire Elon Musk, is a fascinating organization in many ways. The media has recently been excited about the company’s back-to-back quarterly profits. Despite the company operating in the red for so long, observers love to root for the revolutionary company. It’s also interesting to look at Tesla from a business strategy standpoint. For example, Tesla is widely recognized for the way it generates intense customer loyalty. (more…)

Key Takeaways From Amazon’s NYC Exodus

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

content marketing, content management, content strategy, strategic marketing, marketing strategically, strategic communicationsby Justin Grensing, Esq., MBA

On February 14 – Valentine’s Day – Amazon announced a break up with New York City. The company faced intense backlash from community members after it was announced that the much-anticipated HQ2 would be split between New York and Arlington Virginia.

Here are some takeaways from a marketing perspective on the tech giant’s big decision. (more…)