selling without selling laptop graphic

Selling without selling

Selling Without Selling – How To Use Good Will and 5* Customer Service To Solidify Brand Loyalty

A couple of weeks ago my MacBook Pro suddenly stop working – right in the middle of an important client project! Worst nightmare, I know!  

Having used Apple Macs for about 20 years I figured a simple ‘restart’ would sort out the issue but unfortunately, that didn’t work. Even the client IT guy who knew some ninja restart shortcuts couldn’t get it to work.

Thankfully he had one spare and I was set up with a temporary Mac in no time.

But what about my trusty MBPro – it’s 4 years old and I don’t have any Apple Care… My thoughts were running wild! I mean, I run my whole business from my Mac, it’s the be all and end all of how I work, an extension of my mind, my brain!

( yes I know, I will explore my computer attachment issues in another post 😉 )

Lesson 1* | Make it super easy for your customers to contact you

As soon as it was lunchtime I jumped straight onto the Apple website, entered my contact number and the serial number of the product, and baam! within seconds (AND I MEAN SECS) they called me back.

Lesson 2* | Remember your customer’s name

Caller:  Hey Debbie, it’s Arran from Apple how can we help you today?

Lesson 3* | Take a – we’re in this together approach

Me: “My Mac isn’t responding and gets stuck when starting up”, Caller: Ok let’s see how WE can help you get this sorted.”  (IE We are all in this together.)

We spent the whole lunch hour on the phone, going through every Apple ninja restart and startup trick in the book. And although I had to cut the call short to get back to work they left me with full instructions on how to continue the checks and if that was unsuccessful to call them straight back.

So just to recap – so far Apple had spent about a good 2.5 hours trying to help, and at no point in any of the calls had they made feel like they were in a rush to get to the next call. Something a lot of product service providers often fail miserably on.

After going over the checks the Mac still wasn’t responding, so the next step was to take the Mac into my local Apple store to have a technician look at it.

Lesson 4* |  First impressions last

The only way I describe an Apple store is like an elite football team, everyone knows exactly which position they play, and who to pass the customer to next.

If you’re just browsing your free to meander. If, however, you have an appointment you get fast-tracked to the front of the queue, just like in a 5-star restaurant.

I just love how simple and organised they make it.

I took my place at the Genius Bar (totally lives up to its name) where the technician was completely up-date with what was going on with my Mac. “I’m going to run through a few more system checks one more time and if that doesn’t we will have to do a complete re-install.”

And that’s actually what was needed, but again I wasn’t too stressed because Apple had reminded me to bring a back-up in their email appointment reminder just in case.

In total, the appointment took about 1.45 hours and at no point did the technician try to up-sell me anything. “As we have been able to fix your Mac in store today Debbie there is £0.00, nada cost for this.”

I mean how many appliances do you own or bought that provide this kind of service? I personally can’t think of any.

Lesson 5* |  The real money is in the value you provide

The funny thing is, while I was sitting there waiting for the re-install to finish all I could think of was…  I wonder how much I can get for my Mac if I trade it in for a new one today. Ka-ching! I’d love a new iPad Pro – Ka-ching!, Oooo that iWatch over there looks really nice…. Ka-ching! I know what my husband is buying me for my next Birthday – Ka-ching!

By showing me a huge amount of value through their customer service and support, Apple solidified me as a loyal and ready to buy the customer. Which reminds of this famous quote by the late Steve Jobs:

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.  

Of course, one of the best places to start when reviewing your customer service strategy, is your companies brand values. 

Here are 3 additional resources that I highly recommend:
1 | Start With Why: Simon Sinek’s infamous TEDx talk
2 | Seth Godin: Tribes
3 | Apple Manchester – where the story was inspired!

Is it time to review your existing brand positioning and values?

If so, contact Debbie direct to discuss your current objectives.

Make your brand stand out

How to make your brand stand out

Is your brand identity starting to blending in or look outdated? Is the lack of consistency with your messaging and marketing having a negative impact on your sales & promotional efforts? If so, watch our latest vlog, where Creative Director, Debbie Evran shares 3 strategies on how to make your brand stand out 'for all the right reason' in the marketplace.

Today I want to kick things off by answering the question, "How do you make your brand stand out?” It's a question we get asked a lot by both businesses small and large, So I'm going to share three simple strategies to help you assess whether your brand is blending in with everyone or whether it's standing out.

1 | How up-to-date is your brand identity?
Maybe you've had your brand identity for a long time. How unique is it? How different is it? The economic landscape is constantly moving and changing so quickly and rapidly online. People and brands are having to reinvent themselves a lot faster, maybe within two years you have to re-look at your brand identity and say, "Is it relevant* to the current market and is it relevant to where you're going?" 

*(what I mean by relevant is - how representative is your branding to what your business now offers? As a business evolves or grows the branding can often get left behind.)

2 | Are you being consistent with your branding.
From your marketing, your brand identity, your website, your marketing material, is it consistent? And again, is the way that you're communicating through those mediums consistent? And is it compelling enough? That is also something that's really important. You know, it's that whole idea that what you're saying is the same as everybody else? Or, or is it different? Is it unique? I mean the key thing here is really looking for what makes your business different from somebody else?

Of course… we did say three things, so...

3 | Is your brand positioned currently in the marketplace?
This is about looking at where you're positioning your brand in the marketplace. Sometimes a business might get to a point where it realises that in order to move to the next level you need to up your game, elevate everything that you're doing because the market that you were currently serving and the way that you were promoting yourself within that market was okay, but now you want to take your business to another level. And that creates another challenge, for example when you want to take your business from one level to the next and the way you marketed and branded yourself at the current level, no longer serves you in the next level, only because the next level is a lot more competitive.

So those are three strategies to consider when exploring how best to make your brand stand out. Within each of those three concepts, there is obviously a lot of other information. So in the next couple of videos, I'll delve deeper into the specifics of what strategies and ideas that you can do to help your brand; for example, be more consistent or be more attractive.

If you enjoyed the strategies that I've shared today, why not leave a comment below and I'd love to hear what you think.

If you're ready here's 3 ways we can help:

To learn more about how FIRE Creative can help take your business branding and marketing to the next level book a complimentary brand discovery consultation here. In it, we'll explore what's work and what's not along with what your core branding objectives are.

What is branding experience

What is branding?

A couple of weeks ago I was at a local networking event. While introducing myself to an attendee, the gentleman came back to me with a question, which is, "What is branding?"  He said, "Is that like logo design?"

It's weird, 'but I get asked this question quite a lot. People say, "Oh, so is that logo design or graphic design?" So I thought I’d answer the question that, first, no, branding is not logo design. Branding and logo design are two very, very different things. Your logo design is just one aspect of your branding.

A lot of people think that branding is just the business image, that it's purely just your logo, your marketing etc. But it's not just how your business presents itself from an image perspective, it's also how it communicates. It's then how every single person in your business communicates. So if you think about your business and think about every single touchpoint that somebody has to connect with your business, each one is an opportunity for your brand to either do well or not do well and for me, it is definitely something that I think, business owners often overlook.

Especially in the area of customer service and customer relations. The number of brands that I go into, maybe on the surface they look really great, they've fantastic branding, fantastic look and feel, but then you walk into their shop and you get treated like, basically, crap. That is branding.

Why spend all that money having this great branding, great look and feel, only to have the people in your shop not flying the flag for your business. And if that person then doesn't carry through and doesn't represent your brand in the right way, then it's just a missed opportunity.

While people may look at that person and just see one person, every person is a network. Every person then knows lots of other people. I'm sure a lot of people already know how important word of mouth is in business, and this is where your branding and word of mouth can really, really make or break your business and your brand. And if like I say, on the surface you go to this length of having these really great brand values and you make a brand promise, but then you don't deliver on that brand promise, that is an impact on your branding.

Oh yes, and I nearly forgot, a book that I highly recommend that you read. The book's called "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber, which, I think I have a copy here. It has some really great insights and ideas about what branding is, you'll find a couple of really great stories in it about how important branding is as part of the customer journey.

He tells a story, about how he went into a barbershop and the first time he went into the barbershop he had a great experience, he was offered tea and coffee and the whole thing was a really great experience. And then a couple of months later he went back to that same shop, and the second time he went into the shop, the haircut and whatever was fine, but he didn't get asked for coffee, the person wasn't as tentative as last time. But he thought he'd give them the benefit of the doubt, and then the third time that he went back, the experience was worse than the second time.

And he talks about, that most people naturally have this kind of "three strikes and you're out" process. So your first experience with that brand is really, really great. Obviously, the first thing you want to do is you want to go back and tell everyone, right? And if then you go back to that same place a second time and your second experience wasn't as good as the first experience, you kind of feel a little bit let down. And in the back of your mind, you're then thinking, "Mm, maybe I'll give them, maybe give them one more go." And if the third time, the experience isn't as good as the second or the first time, then you've kind of had it? You've lost the things. And I think given the fact there's so much competition out there, that these are really, really important things: making sure that you know all the different parts of your branding, and your branding really communicates and really is consistent across all the different things. That is what the difference between logo design and branding. Branding is everything. It's basically everything.

Thanks for reading, why not leave a comment below and I’d love to know what you think branding is.

brand trust graphic

Trust - The essential ingredient in effective brand communication.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s an essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships”.  Stephen Covey

Last month I attended the first ever UK Trust conference in London. The event was hosted by Talent Dynamics and featured a range of speakers from successful entrepreneurs to global company directors with Stephen MR Covey ( the son of well-known author Stephen Covey ) as the event’s keynote speaker.

The key topic of the event was ‘How to use trust and flow in your business to increase loyalty and profits’.

When you think about the present economic climate, from the recession to bank charges and PPI scandal, it’s not hard to see why this topic is a big talking point for many business owners. As a small business owner myself, I understand just how important trust is to building client relationships and word of mouth referrals.

There have been plenty of stories about big brands whose businesses have taken a nose dive, or who had to take a financial hit when a product or campaign mislead consumers or failed to deliver the promise they claimed.

And the growth of social media has made it harder for businesses and brands to hide from their mistakes or responsibilities. With so much competition brands have come to realise how valuable a loyal customer base is to create a sustainable and profitable business.

With so much great content covered by the speakers at the Trust Conference, I thought I’d share some of the key takeaways I got from the event;

Talk straight
This is all about being transparent, declaring your intent, being open and honest about what you can do and what will be done by others. It’s about using simple language E.G cutting out the industry fluff or *BS*.

Keep commitment
Business commitment or a service commitment – when you create a brand promise it's important to make sure you deliver on that promise.

Right wrongs
If a customer is unhappy to be quick to put things right. This is often hard, as it means holding your hands up when you’ve made a mistake. It’s about taking responsibility for your part and remembering that you just never know who this customer knows!

Listen first
Be 100% in the room. This is about listening to what your clients or customers are saying, the more you listen, the more you’ll be able to hear their challenges and create the right solutions. As a creative person, this is something I have often found difficult because ideas can happen spontaneously which means we can often jump in too early with ideas.

However, over the years I’ve learnt to hang back and ask better questions which in turn has allowed me to get to the heart of what the client is really looking to achieve.

Inspire Trust (Love this one!)
Speaking of people as though they are in the room which is about showing respect at all times. I think this is especially important for people in leadership and management roles when you want to create trust within a team or staff.

The common thread throughout the event was that whether in your personal or business life, there is no getting away from the fact that trust plays a vital role when creating confidence as well as credibility within the marketplace. The more trust there is the greater the rewards personally and financially.

So... how important is trust to you in relation to building a business or maybe you have a story to tell? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great month :-)
Debbie Evran