Category Archives: marketing

The value of a good company name struck me en route to spring skiing on Sunday. Flying by on the freeway I suddenly noticed two distinctive names that seemed to stand out in the row of businesses along the highway.

Stonedge and Simple Signman.

Memorable don't you think? A catchy, meaningful and memorable name is always a huge advantage in building brand recognition and corporate identity. Especially if it is a good fit to the business and its strategic positioning.

In working with entrepreneurs I often have to get them to re-think their planned business name after we've completed a thorough review of their corporate strategy and marketing communications plan because it is simply not consistent, not supportive, and often in direct conflict with the message and the corporate identity. For example; "J&B Java" for a retro '60's style diner and gift shop. Or "PBX Services" for an architectural and interior design consulting firm. It's worth the extra effort to try and be more creative and consistent with your marketing image.

You may want to invent a new word for your name, like Yahoo or Google, but unless you can spend a fortune making it known and putting it everywhere, like Starbucks or EXXON, then try something that is more meaningful and memorable.

Imagine the additional business that comes from customers who will instantly recognize who you are and what you do, as well as those customers that will more likely remember you for next time. Think of a good name as a valuable silent salesman - always working for you.

Sometimes we get so preoccupied with marketing and sales activities and all the associated details that we forget the original strategic objectives.

The basic objective, of course, is to generate and grow sales revenue. But to have sales you need customers. And to have sustained, profitable and growing sales, the best strategy is to develop loyal, long-term customer relationships.

So the marketing, sales and customer service activities should all be aligned to deliver a customer experience with you, your company and your brand that evolves from a first time buyer to a loyal, long-term customer.

The customer experience typically evolves through four levels:

1. Satisfaction with price and availability

On the first exposure to you and your business, customers will quickly, maybe even subconsciously, compare price and availability to their expectations based on prior experience with your competition. There will likely be no sale, and maybe no second chance, if this minimum expectation is not met.

2. Recognition of superior service levels

The first point of differentiation and the first step to building a stronger customer relationship will be when the customer recognizes that you offer superior service. You can demonstrate it in many ways – faster response to inquiries, easier access, more stock, better prices or terms, better delivery, better warranty service and support.

3. Appreciation of the value of your knowledge and experience

After the basic needs of price and availability are met, and you have distinguished yourself with superior service, the customer experience should then lead to an appreciation of the added value of your knowledge and experience. This will be demonstrated by applying your product knowledge, training, education and experience to educate the customer and give him/her the confidence to make better purchasing decisions. Now you are building a valuable customer relationship.

4. Connection on values, mission and vision

The final step in cementing loyal, long-term relationships will occur when the customer recognizes a common sense of values, mission and vision in the way you both do business. This connection will be developed over several interactions, particularly when problems are solved together, or you meet on non-business related issues.

The sooner you can meet customer expectations at these four levels, the faster you will build lasting and loyal customer relationships.

In the early days of e-business consulting most of us doing the e-missionary circuit were preaching the message of "Catch the wave or be drowned by it". Every business was being told to get on the Internet and get rich quick or stand back while the "new economy" took over their industry. Hype and hysteria were used to persuade entrepreneurs and investors to put large amounts of money into their e-business initiatives. They were motivated by either fear or greed.

Then the "old economy" rules hit the ventures and the bubble burst. Many investments ended badly. Some could be written off as an expensive learning experience. The hype and hysteria died and many businesses decided they could go back to business as usual. They were wrong.

The Internet revolution continues, albeit more quietly. The hype now focuses on Web 2.0 with highly interactive web sites and user generated content. Huge values are being placed on high traffic sites as they are acquired by Google, Microsoft, or the media moguls.

But businesses that are leveraging the Internet to their advantage are those that simply make the best use of Web marketing to attract business and online services to reduce costs and to build strong loyal customer relationships. Those are the e-business opportunities not to be neglected.

Much has changed on the Internet, but neglecting e-business is not an option. Remember fear and greed still apply.