Welcome to the era of brand transparency aka your customers can now learn everything about your company with a swipe of their thumbs.
Since the rise of remote browsing and wide adoption of public customer reviews, it has never been easier to build up your brand’s image on social media… and it has never been more difficult to retain it. Just one surly customer writing negative reviews on your website can be incredibly damaging to a burgeoning brand – including online and offline retailers alike. This makes it tough to work out the kinks in your business plan without getting called out online for inefficiency… or branded with a scarlet letter for making a rookie mistake.
Fortunately, there’s some good news here. It’s completely possible to stay a step ahead with your branding initiatives in our ultra-competitive marketplace, despite any fears you may have of trying to do so. Using the three tips below, prepare your business to handle your brand image just in case a critic comes a’ complaining about your company – online or off.
Tip #1: Have Nothing to Hide
This one might seem intuitive, but many seasoned retailers have been catastrophically slow to realize that some of things that would go unnoticed by customers in the past just won’t fly in today’s transparent retail world. To put it bluntly, don’t get caught with your hand in the honeypot. Next generation customers have a nose for sniffing out shady business practices such as false advertising, overseas sweatshops, harsh treatment of employees, etc., so operate with a strong code of ethics and make sure there’s an open door policy for employees to voice their concerns.
It’s also paramount to know the backstory of the products that grace your shelves and to keep an eye out for politically or culturally insensitive undertones in your marketing. Adweek reports that 88 percent of consumers will rethink doing business with a particular brand if they have a negative experience with that brand’s advertising. This past year was rife with ridiculous brand scandals, so keep an eye out to ensure that your company’s adverts aren’t deterring your target customers.
Customers are clued in about where to find product information from a variety of sources and are willing to put in the extra effort to learn what company’s they spend their hard-earned money with. In fact, according to Forbes, 76 percent of customers will look online if they don’t find the information they need on a product’s label. Keeping this in mind, you want to be sure that when customers google the products you sell that the information that comes up spurs them to make a purchase with your unique business. Every company – including yours – was created as a solution to a problem or a gap within the industry and therein lies their value proposition. Due to this, it’s important to demonstrate how your products solve a problem or fill a void in your customer’s mindset. This is key to communicating the value of your business, as well, and hence strengthening your overall brand awareness and visibility. Whether the problem you solve is the conundrum of where to find attractive vegan handbags in Alaska or how to find the perfect shoe with an online retailer — make sure your value proposition always leads the conversation about your brand.
And speaking of value proposition, does the brand content on your website’s landing show customers why they can’t live without your products? It should.
Your landing page is where to show customers what your store inventory can do for them – as well as how your company fits into the global retail conversation, even if you’re only aiming to compete at a local level. An effective landing page answers the “what” and “why” of a company in order to get customers interested in learning more about your products and ultimately spending more, as well.
The influencer movement is a huge point of contention for retailers and marketers. Whatever your personal position on brand influencers may be, their impact is undeniable. A recent study by Collective Bias found that non-celebrity influencers are 10 times more likely to influence in-store purchases than celebrities. Influencers on social media are able to go a step further than traditional celebrity endorsement by actually demonstrating a product in action. As a result, influencer endorsement is seen as a more authentic marketing approach than self-promotion. By connecting with (buzzword alert) micro-influencers within your target demographic, you can reach new customers through the almighty medium of peer reviews. Narrowing in on your unique (potential) micro-influencer audience, consider who you may be able to tap into to gain a stronger reach among consumers and your immediate brand demographics.
The most successful retailers in today’s market come prepared to share every last detail of their back-of-house processes. After all, the path to Millennial spend is paved with transparency – and all generations can appreciate easy-to-navigate websites, in-store experiences and strong brand recognition where they shop. To join the ranks of transparent and successful retailers such as Everlane, Naja, and Patagonia, be proactive about communicating your brand’s value proposition and turn your best customers into your biggest advocates.
Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this March 11-14, 2018 in Las Vegas.
By Jasmine Glasheen, RetailMinded.com