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Communication Coach: How to perfect your brand story

January 30, 2018 -  By

W. Edwards Deming was an American engineer who was revered in Japan for his contribution to transforming the country into a global manufacturing leader. He said, “If you cannot describe what you do as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”

People believe they know what they’re doing until they’re put to the test. This typically happens at networking events or chance meetings where the right words can open up new opportunities.

That’s where you encounter the question, “What do you do?”

Most people respond by describing what they do. That’s not interesting to most people outside of the industry.

A better approach is revealing a slice of what happens when you do what you do and how that makes customers feel.

That slice is part of a process your customers know because they have experienced it. That’s why your customers are better equipped to tell your brand story than you are.

Since they won’t always be available to do that, the best alternative is branding and marketing the story that stands in for the experience of working with your business.

That’s what your business needs to attract the attention of ideal customers or anyone else who’s not familiar with it.

Take control of your customer experience

In The New York Times bestselling book “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It,” former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss shares his approach for coming out on top in life-or-death situations.

All people have two primary needs:

  1. Feeling safe and secure.
  2. Feeling in control.

You may not be negotiating with terrorists or kidnappers for people’s lives, but you can be sure prospective buyers want to trust your business to keep them safe.

That’s why you must take control for them. It’s not to come out on top but to give them the best experience possible and control over the decisions they will have to make.

We made this discovery at our landscaping business after nearly a decade of struggling with the typical industry obstacles. By designing and communicating the experience of working with us from a customer’s perspective, we were able to earn trust far more consistently.

This was accomplished by using words, photos, video and more to describe how our process addressed known customer concerns, including:

  • Project scope;
  • Budget and payment terms;
  • Schedules and timelines;
  • Communications and changes; and
  • Warranties and remedies.

The true obstacle in business is not competitors, it’s communications that fail to make people feel safe and in control.

Your job is taking control of the customer experience that is your brand and how it’s communicated. Without it, you are the obstacle.

Let customers own your brand

At the closing keynote of BlogWorld 2011 in Las Vegas, Ford Motor Co. executive Jim Farley surprised the audience when he challenged us to “let your customers own your brand—because they already do.“

Knowing your business so thoroughly that you can describe what it does as a process is necessary, because only then can you craft stories that collectively communicate the comprehensive brand experience.

Ford recognized the brand story is not one story but a narrative of potentially millions of stories that are playing out on social media, in sales interviews, customer service inquiries and on the sidelines at high school football games. At best you can put a dent in it.

All you can do is add to the conversation by being who you want your brand to be. In the process—and it’s a process that never ends—you can erase buying obstacles and engage people that love and appreciate beautiful landscapes.

Over time your brand wants to develop an authentic voice and tone. It’s just one way to cultivate a collection of stories that uniquely identify the brand.

Take control of that, and let your customers do the rest.

Send me an email at jeff@landscapedigitalinstitute.com to let me know your communication challenges.

I’d love to hear from you.

Photo: iStock.com/tumsasedgars

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Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social and founder of Landscape Digital Institute. He helps green industry owners, marketers and sales teams craft and communicate branded customer experiences that sell. Learn more at www.landscapedigitalinstitute.com

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