Thursday, June 26, 2008

The limitations of marketing

Here's a great little story by a friend of mine. He talks about how he finds an amazingly packaged beer with a great story, that unfortunately can't live up to its own hype.

Great packaging, great advertising, gorgeous design, clever marketing ... these things can only get you so far. They get people to talk about you, they make potential customers become aware you exist, and they can even generate trial. But for a successful BRAND, there must be more than trial. Repetition of purchase is fundamental to business success, and repetition will not happen without a quality product.

In cases like Eric tells in his story, when the quality is largely determined by the nebulous benchmark called "taste" there are numerous examples of brands that defy my thesis. Stella Artois, I am told, consistently wins the award for the worst tasting beer in Europe, and closer to home I am continually astounded by peoples love for a particular market leading brand of espresso (who shall not be named). In these cases "tasting good" is often a euphemism for "what I am used too."

However if we examine an industry such as hotels, you can tell everybody how wonderful you are, but if your front of house service is sub-par, customers won't come back. If a brand of footwear falls to bits, they won't be purchased again. If you are a seeking a repair for a laptop bag, and the retailer makes it hard to get that repair, you'll definitely think twice next time you consider purchasing from the store.

It's because of this that companies need to have a more holistic view of the idea of BRAND. Despite what the design comapnies might tell you "branding" is not your colours, your logo or even your tagline - brand is the totality of a persons experience with you. It's the way you deal with complaints, its the way your answer the phone, it's the music playing in your store, it's the handwritten thank you card that come when they resubscribe to your magazine. These are the types of things that determine repeat customers

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