By Mark Allen Roberts
If you provide a product or a service you are going to experience buyers who have a bad overall buying experience at some time. Market leaders will take this opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade and actually improve their relationship with their customer. Market losers will play the blame storm game, refuse to take ownership, repeat the mistakes over and over again and ultimately cause buyers to suffer Brand Damage and stop buying all together. Once an account is lost it is very difficult to win their trust back, however it is not impossible. Once a market hears enough negative feedback from a variety of sources the market can become brand damaged.In this post I will share;
How Do We Heal “Brand Damaged Buyers” and Get Them Buying Again?
What is the best way not to break your buyer’s trust and lose future business? Well I see it proudly displayed in factories, lobbies and desk tops across the clients I served;
“Do what you said you would do”
Why do I like this simple no smoke and mirrors approach phrase so much?
- I have seen it work time and time again
- Market leaders all live by this rule
- It is time tested
- It’s biblical
- It establishes trust and reinforces it every time you execute
However the reality is we all make mistakes. How do we rebound from those mistakes? Can we ever rebound from those mistakes? I recently read a great article: America’s Nine Most Damaged Brands. This article shares how; the true causes of drops in brand value are folly and arrogance. 24/7 Wall St.’s review of nine brands that were badly damaged recently shows that even the most powerful brand cannot survive horrible decisions. So an element of hubris plays a part in brand damaged markets.
My own personal experience has shown mistakes only become Brand Damaged Buyers when we refuse to admit we made them or correct them. Let’s face itwe all need to be tuned into our market and listen for unresolved problems, …even if we find we caused a few of them.
So let’s say you have been experiencing some of the symptoms I discussed in my last post of companies that have brand damaged buyers like:
Sales failing to meet plan objectives
Competitors sales growing
Decrease in market share
Profit decrease due to field discounting
Customers you have lost refusing to meet with you
You are losing large key accounts who have
…as well as others.
Let’s say you have decided you need to “Heal Brand Damaged Buyers” so they start buying from you again, where do we start?
First we need to go back to the fundamentals of building a brand customers can trust, we start executing the 10 Commandments of Marketing as discussed by Derrick Daye. We need to clearly understand positioning and our desired intentional differentiation in the perceptions of our buyers. A lot of companies struggle in this area so I suggest you down load one of my friends and mentor’s books: Your Brands Position by Dick Maggiore. You can download a copy of my book: Branding Backwards that shares how we need to intentionally brand our product or service or the market will and we will be branding by default. You can visit the article ; 3 ways to build brand loyalty and start from scratch again. Last, make sure and watch Jack Trout’s “5 tests of obviousness.” Jack Trout goes on to share how we must never waste a crisis but use it to make tough changes that often results in re-positioning.
So you’ve done your homework, you feel pretty good about what you’ve seen and you want to experience the benefits of market leading companies like; sales growth faster than industry average , gross profits over 30% higher than the completion, and increased customer satisfaction and loyalty? Where do you start? Ask a simple question in everything you do:
Is it true?
I went and heard an amazing author, speaker, thought leader named Byron Katie speak and the foundation of her work is the simple question: Is it true? Her content was so simple yet so brilliant I sat for hours after the conference with my mind racing as to all the applications in the business world.
So let me ask you: Is it true?
Everything you say on your web site?
What your salespeople are trained to present about your product or service?
All your marketing literature?
What your salespeople say about your competition
Printed content on your product packaging and owners manuals?
What your marketing team believes are the problems your product or service solves?
What your mission statement and vision statement say?
Do you have a “passion statement” and are you walking the talk?
Everything your team is saying at sales meetings, strategy meetings?
Was the product you launched on time last week ready to be launched
Next you must start rebuilding trust with your buyers and one way to do so is admit your past mistakes and apologize and let the buyer know their relationship with you is important and you want to win back their trust. Ask your buyer how he or she would do that if the roles were reversed. (Their answers may surprise you)
Last you must build trust in all the small things;
Follow up when you say you will follow up
Under commit and over deliver
Arrive on time
Keep meetings to buyer approved time window
Follow up meetings with email that reviews they key points of your meeting
Launch new products when they are ready and tested
When we break the trust our buyers have placed in us we create Brand Damaged Buyers. If an error or an over promised feature and benefit go unresolved too long, we loose a buyer’s trust. If your team has been experiencing some of the above symptoms of brand damaged buyers it will be a very difficult path winning buyer trust back to where it once was. Trust is emotional and that is why it is so much easier to not violate it in the beginning of the relationship and so hard to repair later.
Have some of your products broken trust with your buyers?
Have any new products failed to perform to what you promised in sales presentations and your web site?
Are your sales people making promises right now ( as you are reading this) to close a sale, that are not true?
Have you discovered any other steps to rebuild trust and help heal brand damaged buyers?
As I shared, you need laser like positioning in the market today and as you consistently deliver on what you promise you build a brand. If you fail to deliver you are also branding and you create what I call brand damaged buyers. If you find yourself with brand damaged buyers you are not alone. The key is to clearly understand the market’s perceptions of what you offer today and if needed re-position your offering based on your buyers ,market and competitors today. The first step is being humble enough to listen to your market and stop assuming your positioning is relevant and resonates with buyers today.