In Connection Economy everyone is a marketer by definition. Everyone has its own network (even TV network with the emergence of personal streaming app like Periscope) and talks about your brand every day. Your story, maybe built by your agency or related to your advertising, is just one of those stories about your brand, often the least important. People of your company are also marketers, often the most important one.

In my previous post I wrote how engagement rules customer journey and how important is creating e a brand experience. In this post I’ll tell how to create a brand experience. Marketers are also all members of your company.

The Brand is not a strategy, but what you are. Brand starts in the recruitment process. Your people are your brand. Your Brand experience is defined in the moments customers interact with your own employees. Companies run by empathic communicative teams create the most enduring experiences. Your organizational culture is your destiny: how you treat your own employees shapes Brand experience. Companies that empower employees and create empathic cultures create positive experience. Toxic cultures produce toxic brand. [Graham Brown, Jamal Benmiloud, Paul O’Shannessey “Brand Love. How to build a brand worth talking about”]

What to do, then, if our advertising story (prepared by our agency that maybe gave us a very good coverage on TV) weight often less than 20% in purchasing decisions (PWC claims that 85% of brand is defined by everyday interaction)? We must build our brand reputation becoming people daily interaction. Part of the consumers’ stories (“where am I in your story?”), subject of those conversations that affect 80% of purchasing decisions. “People do not buy products, but what products do for them” G. Brown. Because today, “customer experience is becoming more important than the product itself” B. Solis.

This is hard to do for a world class brand. So it maybe seems impossible for a local store. As a matter of fact for building a brand is necessary creating daily interaction with your customers even for a local retail.

Zappos delivers wowThere are three key words that identify the attitude that the company must have to become people daily interaction:

  • #omnichannel
  • #engagement
  • #storytelling

Omnichannel is thought of as unique subject matter where you meet people. Sees the shop as a central point, but considers the experience with consumers at all points of contact that meets, in a single report continues.

Engagement is the concept of real involvement of its clients and contacts. The whole digital marketing strategy and, in particular, the social, must be oriented to make participatory people and make them feel part of an experience.

Storytelling is the most effective way to communicate. Telling is the best way to get in touch with others at the deepest level, what makes us real and human. The stories are the essence of the human experience. The stories inspire and motivate the actions of individuals, prove their usefulness in every activity of the human experience, and above all contribute to the construction, reproduction and transformation of values into principles. The stories are also contagious and sticky, thus help everyday interaction in people turning them into fans.

Deepen a moment the specific concept of Omnichannel (on engagement and storytelling are already in my other post some insights). Omnichannel is not only a concept of space or time, as mentioned is an approach to the relationship. To give you a more specific idea of ​​what it means to consider one of the most memorable experiences of the store, any of you have been in contact with Apple knows that the experience is unique and is designed for people not for customers. Just consider the following touchpoint:

  • A website clean, crisply designed, easy to navigate, and easy to find and learn about new offerings, set up appointments, and locate stores.
  • The cleanliness and consistency of the design of the store, so “close” to the website.
  • The packages that make the shopping experience memorable, so similar to the website and to the minimalist style of Apple.
  • The many demo units in each store make it extremely easy to try/sample the devices, to ensure a direct experience of products.
  • The store staff. Their attitude, friendliness and expertise, combined with a light attitude that reflects a valuable hiring process and a detailed training phase. The collaboration between the staff, it is not uncommon that the guy you’re talking to brings you to another person committed to ask details that he knows better. All staff have always the option to close the purchase by minimizing the check-out phase, making the customer happy (making them feel special).
  • The selection of specialized personal services (Genius Bar, One-to-one) that can be reserved by appointment and whose reservation is personalized. Solving a client problem, even trivial, makes customers happier and more excited about his new purchase, providing a special aura to the product and the brand.
  • Personal Set-Up and in-store classes ensure a sense of belonging and support often absent in many other shopping experiences even for more expensive products (e.g. car).
  • The consistency of this with the virtual store on the web for products and content for iTunes Appstore.

Line at Apple Store in NYCYou’ll be grimacing thinking to yourselves “already, Apple. Easy! But I do not even sell products of my brand? I have not a shop in the center, not even in my county capital. How can I turn customers into fans?”

In general you can start using your store as a promotion base. Do this make it a perfect set for photographs (with Instagram everybody wants to pics its experience). Encourage sharing, maybe equipping some areas as the perfect places for selfie. Use the store as offline touchpoint reference, coordinate the style with your website and tell your stories about this. Create a series of events in the store and made these as part of engagement and storytelling which consumer love to share. Let’s people talk about you!

Give content and stories to share. Do not think content only as text, but photos, videos (encourage visitors to do so, in particular now with Persicope) and especially plan the experience of consumer in an integrated way with their smartphone. How? Give free WiFi access (28 percent said this as the biggest improvement retailers need to make their shopping experience valuable). Or leaving the consumer to order or inquire about the products that are not in stock at the store from their smartphone. Think that 59% of consumers check online reviews of products on their mobile phone while shopping in a retail store! Or 32 percent said the biggest improvement, retailers need to make their shopping experience valuable, is enable to start shopping on their devices and complete the cycle in-store.

So provide content to turn consumers into fans making them your storyteller. If you do not believe me, read Nico Caradonna who applying similar principles (in an extremely creative and coordinated way with its own local territory) has built a national fan base starting from his store in Bari Modugno. Or Filippo Berto, with similar principles, had revolutionized the show room concept for his business of furniture. Or Luigi Carbonelli that with his “Coffee Lounge” raised a local brand of Neapolitan coffee, into an internationally recognized product. Or Andrea Friggi that thanks to similar principles has generated a substantial revenues and increasing clientele, for its specialized engineering company in Magenta. Or Enrica Luciani that through a similar omnichannel strategy, creating new touchpoints, transformed her estate in a unique customer experience and their wine in one of the most prestigious produced in the region. Or all those who I personally do not know who are already transforming the industrial landscape of my country.

To win the loyalty and devotion of the people, businesses need to live their brands as they were consumers, to determine all the ways they can make their experience of product or service better, more enjoyable, more human and more productive. Every brand should develop a detailed touchpoint map (the famous customer journey) with all “stops” along the way, before, during and after sales. You should think of ways to differentiate the experience, to surprise and delight the people who come in contact with your brand. Enhancing such experience is not more expensive. A more favorable buzz allow you often to save money in customer service and advertising.

In connection economy, brand start inside the company and works its way out. Because your employees, fans and customers are all connected, the enthusiasm of your own people becomes the starting point for how others experience the brand on a daily basis. Lego, Apple and Starbucks, among others, are just some example of brands who do not look outside for their brand anymore; they start right here, right now inside their own business. [Graham Brown, Jamal Benmiloud, Paul O’Shannessey “Brand Love. How to build a brand worth talking about”]

[Photo: How Zappos Delivers “Wow” by jonny goldstein [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]; Line_at_Apple_Store_in_NYC By Rob DiCaterino from Jersey City, NJ, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

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