Pyramid power for marketing

Lead your consumers to strong brand sales
No marketer today can count on unquestioning brand loyalty; few ever could. Nevertheless, success demands that you build and maintain your brand. You have to give your product or service a personality, a sense of being – something that sets you apart from competitors and emphasizes a benefit to customers.
Why? Think about how you choose laundry detergent or a package delivery service. Chances are you may consider as many as three options acceptable. Those options make up your “competitive set.” Those brand names immediately pop into your mind when you think about buying a product or service.
Strong brand identity can lead you to include a product or service in your set – and choose it more frequently. That edge jumps in importance when price and service differences dwindle, or when consumers find it hard to differentiate between products or services.
You can take steps to gain that edge. Use the steps in the “branding pyramid” to maximize the opportunity for your product or service to be considered and purchased. Evaluate your communications to be sure you lead consumers through each level:
Awareness: “I’ve heard of you.” Awareness is the foundation of successful selling. Who’ll buy from you if they haven’t heard of you? Advertising is just one way to create and sustain awareness. Consider direct marketing, public relations and other ways to communicate with your target audience.
Your message needs to do more than get attention. It should be rooted in a strategy that ensures you’ll reach the audience you want with a message they’ll find meaningful and relevant.
Familiarity: “I know who you are.” Communicate with enough frequency to maintain awareness. The purchase cycle for your product or service can help you determine the right frequency level. Also, a message may be quickly forgotten if it is not repeated with some degree of regularity.
Image: “I know what you stand for.” Use your marketing communications to give consumers a definite idea of what your brand stands for and the benefits it delivers. Think, for example, of Federal Express, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
Inclination: “I’ll look for you.” When you’ve established a positive image with your target audience, your brand becomes part of their competitive set. They’re predisposed to seek you out.
Trial: “Show me what you can do!” At this point, communications take a back seat to quality and service. Product performance is what counts.
Reinforcement: “Did I make the right decision?” Advertising or other direct contact with the customer after the sale will support their buying decision.
Satisfaction: “I like you.” Again, quality and service are the keys. But it’s important that your communications have built realistic expectations. Be positive, enthusiastic, but don’t over promise. There’s nothing less satisfying than puffery.
Referral: “I’ll tell my friends to try you.” Advocacy is the ultimate form of satisfaction; recommending a product or service puts a person’s reputation on the line. Marketers also look at advocacy from the other direction – from consumers’ willingness to listen to people we respect (as in endorsements by celebrities, experts, or satisfied customers).
It’s possible to measure your progress. Market share growth tells you customers are moving from awareness, familiarity and image to trial and satisfaction. Begin, though, by determining where you’re at in brand building.
A strong brand maintains its identity against the competition, encouraging repurchase. It’s also the base for introducing new or improved products and line extensions. Follow the pyramid to build your brand, and establish trust with the consumer and sales for your company.
Ronald Luskin is senior vice president and general account group manager for Blue Horse, Inc., in downtown Milwaukee. The firm handles advertising, marketing and public relations.
July 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display