Brand Building After the Buy: How Smart Brands Use Every Touchpoint to Stand Out

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Marketers tend to focus most of their efforts on making brands known to consumers, seeing awareness as a valuable first step in coaxing an eventual conversion. Yet more than a third of marketers believe that value has decreased or is decreasing. While marketing intended to boost brand awareness and consideration is far from dead, it will continue to see new challenges, whether it’s the CCPA/GDPR effect on data-led media approaches, more consumers retreating to premium ad-free subscription services (such as Disney+), escalating media fracture and costs or the fact that, in a recent study, 71% of consumers reported that they prefer to discover a brand on their own. (However, consumers have a surplus of wants and needs and a shortage of attention).

Yet far from hampering brand-building techniques, these phenomena may be ushering in the most imaginative and valuable era of brand building ever; one where services, utilities, personality and care for the consumer will be measured in increased stock prices and higher Net Promoter Scores. In this era of stumble-upon, serendipitous brand discovery, here are two key areas that marketers should focus on.

Purchase

Brands can be discovered and purchased with the flick of a thumb on social platforms, which means marketers need to get serious about engineering commerce into every connection point. ^ Consumers are always shopping, so winning brands are finding ways to close the gap between attraction and transaction through creative experiences that directly resolve purchase barriers.

Post-purchase

CRM is too small a term for the vast amount of opportunities to create brand value for consumers after they have purchased your product or service. CRM and traditional loyalty programs are effective tactics for engaging consumers post-purchase, but thinking of them only as retention strategies ignores the vast amount of opportunities to create value and build brand meaning for consumers after they’ve selected your product or service. In today's Continuous Commerce culture, where the distance between discovering and buying a product or service can be measured in a few swipes or clicks, we must assume that a consumer may not begin to truly understand (or maybe even remember) a brand until after they buy.

At a point when many companies consider the job done, smart brands are working hard to ensure newfound loyal consumers remember their positive experiences and, hopefully, spread the word. Here’s where marketers can encourage it.

  • Service. Smart brands know that consumers remember their experience more than they remember the price. There are so many ways to meet or exceed expectations and build value post-sale, from managing expectations as consumers await delivery, offering help to set up their new purchase or engaging in more concerted outreach, like Ikea’s effort to help consumers with different limitations modify their furniture for improved accessibility.
  • Appreciation. Feeling underappreciated is the number-one reason consumers switch away from products or services, so smart brands make it plain how much they value their customers. All brands can learn a lot from direct-to-consumer companies that are in the habit of writing personal thank you notes, offering surprise upgrades or even throwing in a random treat.
  • Packaging. Good packaging can help a brand differentiate in-store and ensure the product pops off the shelf. But with the rise of e-commerce, packaging is more and more frequently becoming something consumers experience after the buy. Sure, exceptional packaging can make your brand feel extra premium or fun, but as brands up their investments in packaging, they’re increasingly considering less creative factors such as accessibility (e.g., easy-to-open packages) and sustainability as being central to consumer decision-making.

Overall, finding opportunities to make a brand impact during and after the purchase requires walking in your consumers’ shoes. Step back, forget what you know and go through the process of buying your product or service, and you will discover new opportunities to take a small moment and make it easier or more memorable. Or consider implementing a custom Path to Promoter Study to define opportunities that meet and exceed customer expectations at every phase, from the initial spark of brand interest to moments that make it worthwhile for consumers to share their positive experiences with others.