Catalog Marketing: Your Brand Never Takes a Summer Vacation
As the summer winds down, it may be time to check up on key some elements of your catalog business. Among others, consider reenergizing your brand. As Andrea Syverson, marketing strategist and president of Black Forest, Colo.-based catalog consultancy IER Partners, points out, brands are steadily evolving because customers, the competitive environment and the marketplace is constantly changing. Following are Syverson’s step-by-step strategies for reenergizing your brand.
1. Signs your brand is in trouble: If sales have started to slip or plateau, it’s a sign that your brand isn’t living up to its promise, Syverson says. While you may have decreased prospecting efforts or reduced circulation over the slow summer months, it’s also possible that your competition has begun to succeed in areas where you’ve stagnated. Customers who’ve always shopped with you may have found another option they perceive as better, she notes. The trick is finding those areas that have failed to please customers and improving them.
Another way to tell that your brand needs a shot in the arm is your employees’ attitudes. “If your employees are jazzed about the company, its products and their own futures,” Syverson points out, “they can convey that to customers. But if they’re apathetic in any way, it’ll show.”
2. First step on the road to brand recovery: Once you’ve established that your brand needs an overhaul, fix it. “It starts with fully immersing yourself in the brand and the customer experience,” Syverson says. She recommends asking yourself the following questions:
* What do I ask of my customers, i.e., how do I force them to interact with the catalog?
* Do I make it easy to buy?
* What, if anything, isn’t working the way it used to?
* What’s my competition doing better than I am?
“Sometimes we get so compartmentalized in the day-to-day running of the business that we forget that our customers have to make an effort to seek us out to do business with us,” Syverson says. To reverse that way of thinking, look at every customer touchpoint from the customer’s perspective. If each touchpoint doesn’t provide an intuitive experience, check to see if your competition has a better experience, then improve upon it.
3. Ask customers: Sometimes you can’t get all of the information you need about where your brand fails by merely watching customers’ activity. “Pick up the phone and talk to your customers,” Syverson says. “Send them e-mail questions; just try to get into their heads and listen.” Whether it’s because your product quality has fallen off or because your Web site is harder to navigate than your competition, Syverson notes that customers usually will tell you why they’ve changed their shopping habits. Once you know what’s wrong, then you can start to respond.
4. Get internal stakeholders involved: “In order to get buy-in for new strategies, you have to tap into your internal expertise,” Syverson says. Employees who are passionate about your brand can’t only reveal what the problems are, they often can provide solutions you wouldn’t have considered. Additionally, in order to build buy-in for new brand initiatives, you need to foster a collaborative environment. “When people see they’re part of a greater solution and that they can make a difference, most people want to excel at what they’re doing,” she says. It’s then that you can create some energy and get everyone focused toward a common goal.
Next week: Part II in our feature series on revamping your brand will focus on reinvigorating your product line.
Andrea Syverson can be reached at (719) 495-2354 or via e-mail at email@example.com.