Before you can begin formulating brand strategy, you have to ask the question “who uses the brand?” In fact, this is not a single question, but many questions. Is it men, women, or both? Are they younger or older, richer or poorer? What media (traditional and digital) do they consume? What other brands do they use? Where do they shop? How do they feel about themselves? What are their interests and pleasures? The list goes on because the better you understand them, the better your chances of being able to satisfy their needs.
There is virtually no end to this list of questions and the better you are able to describe the people you are targeting, the better your chance of building a brand in their minds that is both salient and relevant to their needs – one that is more credible than the others are.
Your customer database is potentially the most powerful weapon in your marketing armoury. You should be seeing the people in that database as important members of your “brand community” and start conversing with them as you would converse with your friends. Do this and amazing things start to happen.
A customer database is so much more than a tool to be used solely for promoting special offers and discounts. In addition to this it is as importantly a tool for brand building. (By brand building we mean the process of creating, reinforcing and changing perceptions about your brand in order to optimise the alignment of your brand with the needs of your customers.)
Most customer databases are only used to pump out special offers and to kick tiny percentages of each customer’s spend back to them. In other words they get used for the purpose of giving value away in the hope that customers will reward you with their loyalty.
The fact is you can’t build a brand on price alone. Yes, to some extent loyalty is earned by offering low prices and good deals, but mostly loyalty is earned by building your brand in the customers’ minds. Until quite recently, the route to brand building has been traditional media, but the internet has changed that. Traditional media audiences continue to steadily decline as consumers switch to the internet for their preferred content fixes.