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Building brand advocacy: Ramesh Kaushik, Marketing Head, Grohe

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The role of a customer in the fortunesand success of a brand can hardly ever be overstated. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the customer, his loyalty and continued patronage is what a brand strives for and thrives on. Building brand credibility in order to foster loyalty is, one of the most pivotal focus areas for any enterprise, regardless of its nature. And to achieve this, an organization has to offer the most superlative levels of customer experience. Only then can it aim to acquire new patrons every day and retain the existing ones to turn them into veritable brand ambassadors.While building brand advocacy amongst your audience, it is important to:



Know Your Customer

Nurturing a brand reputation is a particularly tricky task for a B2C business where the market is larger and harder to pin down. However, a brand that successfully manages to identify its target audience and understand it well has already won half the battle. Once the key customers have been ascertained, it is easier to gauge their preferences, propensities and desires. The foremost task of a brand or marketing manager is to comprehend the eco-system which his target client inhabits. For a premium brand, the marketer has to get a sense of what echelons of luxury the customer is exposed to and expects, and then outdo this benchmark to wow him.



Building a credible brand identity involves plugging the gap in the market when it comes to the desires of patrons and also establishing new standards of excellence ensuring customersfeel proud to be associated with the brand.Brand experiences create customer affinity that leads not just to consumption but also brand advocacy through word-of-mouth advertising, one of the most powerful ways of cementing the business’s market reputation.



Define Your Vision

To elicit this kind of unstinted loyalty, there has to be considerable investment in intelligent marketing tools. A business today has to carefully outline the values that it is driven by as this is what differentiates it from any competition. It has to then ensure that this value proposition or brand philosophy is communicated articulately and audibly to its target demographic.According to many studies, brands tend to have a higher perception of credibility if there is uniformity in their marketing mix over a long term.



Therefore, marketers must not have a myopic vision when coming up with a brand communication. If these values and communications appeal to the identified target market, they are sure to create an indelible recall in the minds of consumers when thinking of ways to meet their needs. The consistency in branding activities is especially imperative in today’s age of digital interactions. While social media creates an opportunity for a brand to have a two-way interaction with the customer, it can also lead to adverse consequences if the communication strategies are not pre-defined and well-thought through.



Fulfill the Brand Promise

The most definitive way of building credibility and loyalty, however, is to fulfill the brand promise made to consumers.While many a times, we find that the focus of marketing shifts from the product itself, this can be a grave trap that brand managers fall into. The only way of ensuring continued association of target customers with your brand is by offering them the experience that your communication platform, product qualities, service platform assure.



For instance, if you promise a perfect amalgamation of functional superiority and visual excellence, each aspect of product must be a manifestation of these qualities.Over and above that, if the business retails through a physical store, the outlet must offer a shopping experience in perfect consonance with the brand identity. Build showrooms that give customers an experience of what it will be like to bring home your products. If your brand vision talks of quality, design and technology, then these attributes must be palpable from the moment they enter the store. If they are pampered and indulged from the word go, their perception of your brand image immediately gets enhanced. Also, they will begin to associate the company with the fulfillment of a higher, aspirational desire and are likely to come back repeatedly for the same feeling of importance and luxury.



In essence, customers must always feel a sense of delight on interacting with your brand. Capitalise on your brand strengths and leverage these pro-actively to deliver a customer experience that no other player can match up to. With a good mix of smart marketing and superlative products and services, building a credible brand is only a matter of time and patience. With sustained efforts and a shot of innovation in brand building activities, customers will find it increasingly easy to identify with your brand vision and will be more likely to invest in your brand on an ongoing basis.




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