Principles of marketing 10: Brand touch points

What influenced your decision to buy an Apple iPod?

Was it following the TV ad with the ubiquitous dancing silhouette? Or the press ad in last weekend’s newspaper? Were you seduced by the glamour of the Apple Store? The intervention of one of their Genius’s or the high street window dressing or in store point of sale display elsewhere?

Maybe it was through a great Internet experience or word of mouth, or perhaps it was you saw someone on the train and decided enough was enough.

Whatever it was, it was a touch point, an opportunity for you to engage with the Apple brand and buy into it. Whereever it was, the message was exactly the same with the product carefully propositioned in the same way.

Managing your brand touch points – all the points at which customers might come into contact with you – increasingly differentiates the average from the good, and the good from the great.

Customers are increasingly more fickle. Power is no longer in your hands as a specialist as there are more specialists. Providing an excellent service from enquiry right through to aftercare is a prerequsite not a nice to have.

Think about your stationery, signage, reception areas, sales letters, brochures, website, the people who answer your phones, how you present/demonstrate what you do.

Are you consistently delivering your brand proposition in the same uniform way?

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4 responses to “Principles of marketing 10: Brand touch points

  1. You undermine the rational thought processes of consumers. I hate Apple – I bought a Mac a few years back which went wrong after 13 months (just out of warranty) and was uneconomic to repair – if it had been a PC I’d have done it myself in minutes. I hate the proprietary nature of Apple, the way they charge for upgrades to the OS, the lack of interoperability, the fact they charge UK buyers a massive premium over US prices…
    But I still bought an iPhone.
    Not to “engage with the brand” but because I wanted an MP3 player and a phone in one device. Also, in every phone era, there is an iconic device which is simply better (My last phone was a Motorola RAZR – itself iconic in its time). This product was simply a major step forward.

    What I found was a revelation. Being able to type text messages simply and easily with a real keyboard. The built in maps and sat-nav. Web on a phone which was actually readable and usable. Efficient email reading and responding. I could go on.

    I bought mine in spite of the hype. I still hate Apple and their overpriced shops, lack of service and inflexible pricing. But I’m sticking with my iPhone – thanks to the app store, nothing else comes close.

    Please allow for rational decisions occasionally. And, to get back to the marketing, people often don’t buy your clever positioning, snappy headlines and exciting graphics – sometimes they are trying to cut through all of this to find the value proposition. Don’t get too big for your boots -marketing is NOT the product.

    • I appreciate your feedback on the blog.

      As a predominantly B2B marketer I’m all about functionality and user/purchaser benefit when it comes to marketing, but I was interested in talking about brand touchpoints in this particular blog, and used Apple as an example.

      I think there are a great number of people that choose to buy iPods because of the design and functionality – I bought mine in 2003 when they were still relatively niche. I’ve watched 4-5 relaunches and reincarnations and seen billions spent on getting people hooked into using them and driving the use of iTunes. The conclusion I’ve made is that it is a lifestyle product that millions have bought into in part because of the design which is itself part of the Apple brand. But whether you agre or not, all customer/brand touchpoints have played a major role in this too.

  2. Your B2B angle is an interesting one.

    A lot of B2B customers are actively anti-brand – “if it is hyped, I don’t want it”. Professional buyers want to be seen to compare apples with apples and build a list of features and a score sheet. Influencers are often engineers who want to compare features ad infinitum and will actively deny wanting anything because of its image.

    Peer pressure still works, though. Case studies are often the way to sell in B2B and there is a constant look over the shoulder to make sure the other guy hasn’t got something better than you.

    Thus the hype and brand touchpoints are still there – just carefully hidden.

  3. I do completely support the notion that the Power is no longer in hands of service providers but in brains and hands of customers.

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