by Ronii Bartles | Featured Contributor
Question. How do your customers feel when they encounter your business?
I work with businesses that are ‘luxury brands’ in their industry (just kinda happen that way for me but I like it). Consumers’ buying habits are different today than they were 20 years, 20 months ago… 20 days ago. Consumers are constantly changing because everything around them is constantly changing. Communication channels are different and we start to use them in different ways all the time. But one thing is still true… they want an experience, not just to buy an item. They want to feel like they matter. I mean, seriously, you want to feel like too, right?
When you think about luxury brands you think about brands like Lexus, Hermes and Tiffany, just to name a few. And there are a few traits to these brands that are consistent across all of them. Recently, I was meeting with a client that wants to move into the luxury boutique sector of his industry and I told him there are 3 things that all luxury brands have in common.
- Price: They know they are good at what they do or sell and they charge A LOT of money for it. They don’t compromise on price and rarely offer discounts. And they particularly don’t offer discounts because they are being nice or feel sorry for a potential client and just want the business (service providers I’m talking to you here). These brands are confident in knowing what they are worth and charge accordingly. Take it or leave it.
- Design: They invest in beautiful design elements. I mean like really beautiful. They place value on their mark and make a significant investment in that mark because they know it represents them across all platforms. You could easily say that they invest upwards of tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands. Tiffany has its own color! And we refer to it as Tiffany Blue. Are you kidding me? Talk about committing to a brand element.
- Customer Service: This is the biggie! Really big! Huge! (This is my Julia Roberts impression from Pretty Woman.) Every single one of these brands knows how you want to feel and goes above and beyond that to make you feel oh so special. This is the exceptional kind of customer service that you talk about for years. And makes you go back… and pay more. Do you want to make more money? Then try giving extraordinary customer service and see how they come back over and over again and pay more? I promise it will work. And this isn’t the kind of customer service where you say thank you when you work with them. This is the kind of customer service where you ask lots of questions and find out what they really love and then surprise them on a whim to let them know you care about them (not you). It’s not easy and it’s not cheap. But you are charging more right? So there.
I had a website vendor send me chocolate covered bacon one time because I mentioned on my blog that I loved it. Talk about paying attention. At that point I had never hired him for a project (for my brand or any of my clients). Guess what? I do now. And I know that any time I need anything he has my back and I don’t have to worry about it (that’s super important to me). And I might get more chocolate covered bacon.
Back to you. How do your customers feel when they interact with you or your business? How do they feel 2 years later? Do they feel taken care of in every way possible? How can you take these tips and implement them in your company? Here’s to making working with your brand feel like an over-sized, plush, velvet arm chair with expensive champagne and chocolate covered strawberries (or bacon).
Ronii Bartles – Marketing & Branding Expert from Bartles & Associates – Charleston, SC
Ronii is Bartles & Associates’ self-proclaimed Chief Rockstar. She has a whole list of amazing (but slightly boring) credentials like a Bachelor’s Degree from Shepherd University, a MBA from The Citadel, The Lowcountry Business Network Advisory Board Member and is President of the Charleston American Marketing Association, where she was also a 2012 Marketer of the Year Finalist. She loves to go around telling people that she actually is one of the Most Influential Women in Business in Charleston and a 40 Under 40 winner because the Business Journal told her so. Professionally, Ronii grew up in the marketing research industry and has been Director of Operations at ARG and W5. She took all that experience and started Bartles & Associates and roniibartles.com where Ronii and her team work with creative entrepreneurs and small businesses on developing branding and marketing strategies around what they do best, which they lovingly call Operations Marketing. B&A helps businesses uncork their potential by uncovering their WHY and then crafting that message into concise, memorable brand stories and marketing messages. Ronii is an active volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters for over twelve years, and won Big Sister of the Year in 2008. Originally from West Virginia (you can take the girl out of WV but you can’t take the WV out of the girl), she loves beer, college football (Let’s GOOO Mountaineers!), pizza, jeans and a t-shirt, and designer high heels. You can connect with Ronii on Twitter or LinkedIn or email her.