Branding strategy is usually an “inside” affair, created in windowless (or now virtual) conference rooms. “What do we want to be known for? What is our mission? What do we do better than competitors?”
What’s missing from this conversation? Customers. Who buys your product or service? Customers. No wonder so much marketing doesn’t work.
My personal branding definition is this:
“Branding is the promise that you make. Your brand is the promise that you keep.”
Yes, the promise that you keep is your true brand. And the promises that you make better align with the promises that you keep, or the whole branding strategy exercise will backfire on you.
But now I have more to tell you. The promises that you make—and keep—need to align with the Mindset of your customer when they set out to make a purchase, or your marketing efforts will be like whistling into the wind. You will be going through the motions, but not getting the results you need to survive or grow.
Your customer’s Mindset consists of their desires, concerns, and questions. And there is often a concern included in that Mindset that is more important than all the others.
My favorite recent example is Vital Farms, an egg company that practices something I call Mindset Immersion.
The overriding concern of egg buyers these days is, “How happy are those laying hens?” Vital Farms tapped into that concern and is driving that point home in everything they do.
Here’s their recent IPO announcement on LinkedIn:
And here is a video they’ve created about a campaign lately where, in their egg carton insert, they asked their customers to “thank our farmers.” The response was fantastic:
Remember, this company is selling eggs. Something that has been around for centuries, something that is pretty simple. Nothing high-tech or flashy about this product.
They could have promoted a number of aspects of their eggs, but they didn’t do that. They tapped into the Mindset of their customers and focused on the happiness of their hens. And they just keep working on that theme, in dozens of ways. This is the way marketing should work, but seldom does.
Another “prime” example of Mindset immersion: Amazon.
Amazon has been around since the mid-90’s. Out there for anyone to see and imitate. Yet how many vendors work as hard as Amazon does to answer customer questions? Nobody.
Again, if we go back to the basic definition of the customer’s Mindset when they set out to buy, it is the combination of their desires, concerns, and questions. Amazon has come up with dozens of ways to answer customer questions. The most brilliant part of their strategy was to let customers answer customer questions, via reviews and the “Answered Questions” section of their product listings.
Customers often answer questions manufacturers failed to answer or answered in a confusing way. Here’s the question one customer asked about the Lume Cube Video Conference Lighting Kit:
And here is why the customer asked the question:
This particular product listing is for the light only, which attaches to the top of a laptop screen. There’s no way this thing weighs 40.3 pounds.
Now, in this case, the manufacturer did answer the question, only inaccurately (I subsequently informed Amazon of the mistake). But it was one customer talking to another who set the record straight.
Here’s another couple of questions that the manufacturer should have answered:
What’s most important to notice about these questions is how specific they are. “Get great lighting for your next video conference!” doesn’t answer these very specific questions.
Mindset Immersion is what happens when the creator of a product or service understands and embraces the reality of the customer’s buying experience, and responds accordingly. It’s the act of providing as much information as possible, starting with the customers’ top concerns.
In other words: Are the chickens happy? Are you just saying they are, or are they really? Can you show us the farms? (You betcha!)
Now, I imagine that many of you reading this sell things more complicated than eggs. And yet, you probably also struggle at times, trying to find new ways to describe your product or service. That’s because you’re focusing on the product or service, not the customer’s Mindset.
The customer’s Mindset is a deep and rich source of inspiration, once you figure out what it is. Once you understand their biggest desires and concerns, you’ll have plenty to write about. And your comforting and detailed copy will actually be fascinating to your customers, because you’re writing to their concerns and their desires.
They’ll stay on your site longer; they’ll look at more pages; and they’ll interact with your company’s social channels more enthusiastically. All of this customer activity impresses Google, increasing your chances of appearing on page 1 of the search results more often.
Your customer’s Mindset should be at the core of your branding strategy, and it should drive all of your subsequent decisions and actions. It’s the most logical, straightforward way to increase your sales and rise above all of your competitors.