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What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word marketing? Maybe it’s the Nike swoosh, or a commercial showcasing a new iPhone. Is this really what marketing is all about? Far too often, the scope of what marketing is limited to just these flashy pieces. To put it another way, marketing is not about the icing on the cake. Marketing is more about whether we should even serve cake, or instead cupcakes or maybe fruit? And those questions all tie into communications and understanding of the needs of the recipient.

Far too often what is left out of the conversation is a strategic perspective, plan, and approach to marketing. Instead, marketing needs to be a strategic exercise in your organization that asks more than just what the logo looks like or what the website layout is. The conversation should speak to vision, direction, and engagement and then about what to actually do or in other words, decorating the cake.

This series of postings will take a closer look at topics to consider when building more effective and engaging marketing and communications.

Remember the icing on the cake example used in the introduction to this series of articles? Let’s revisit that analogy for a moment to highlight an important point when it comes to brand alignment. Far too many people think that the logo, website, or color pallet choices are what defines an organization’s brand. Or in other words, the icing on the cake.

Sure, these are parts of what make an organization’s brand but really, these are more of a reflection of its personality and not a true understanding of what it is all about. They provide some insight into the organization, but it is just the tip of the iceberg; we have no idea what the cake might actually taste like. What builds a brand are all the different experiences, or touchpoints, people have with the organization. Touchpoints are what really stick with people and in this post, we will take a closer look at how we can use them to build a better brand experience.

Dining Out
Imagine you are planning on going out to eat. You explore some options and find a restaurant with a great-looking website with nice photos of the food and an easy-to-use reservation system. You arrive at the restaurant – the dining room looks amazing and the food smells great. And then you meet your server who treats you rudely. Just like that, you forget about all the other aspects that made you think positively of the restaurant.

Most organizations forget that the experience people have with your company is one of the most important things to focus on. Often people think that the experience is the responsibility of another group such as those responsible for program delivery, operations, or customer service. The fact is, these experiences and interactions are essential components of your brand.

Put Time Into Your Touchpoints
Take a minute to think about what a client’s journey is like when they engage with your company. From the moment they call your office, what are the points of contact you have with this individual? Time and energy should be placed into ensuring all of these touchpoints are consistent and aligned with your organization’s brand. Not nearly enough time is put into any and all interactions a person has with your organization. Everything from reception, to facility tours and more, these all leave impressions on people. By focusing more on these experiential touchpoints, you will be able to make the most impact and will build consistency in how your brand is delivered to the market.

Where to Start
Let’s take a minute to go back to our example of eating out at a restaurant. What if the menu doesn’t impress you much and the food is just pretty good, but the server and service are incredible? Chances are you will leave with a better impression than if it were the other way around. This is important to consider for those looking for a place to start. Focus on those experiential touchpoints and look for ways to improve or enhance these first.

Map out all the touchpoints related to an experience with your company and determine who the stakeholder groups are you primarily need to focus on. This could include clients, board members, centres of influence, and more. Now, think about where and how they interact with your organization. Consider what each of these touchpoints looks and feels like. What is being done to enhance these to make them exceptional?

Icing on the Cake
Regardless of how much icing you put on that cake, eventually, someone will bite into it and get a taste. Ensuring that the ingredients in the cake match the icing on top combines to create a great experience. Chances are you are already aware of most of these touchpoints and the majority of focus should be on making a more intentional effort to enhance them. The best part? Some of the interactions your stakeholders have with the company are related to behaviours or processes and shouldn’t cost much money to implement but, rather, require some creativity, standardization, and training. With a bit more effort and intention, a huge difference can be realized.


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