The Secret Sauce of Brand-First Customer Experiences How brands can turn customers into raving fans

By Mark Miller

entrepreneur daily

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No matter the size of your business, you want it to stand out from the crowd.

The "secret sauce" to engaging your customers? Creating brand-first experiences that showcase who you are while empowering them to become not only brand loyalists but brand ambassadors.

Related: Importance of Customer Engagement in This Day and Age

Develop your three-ingredient secret sauce

So, what is this secret sauce of brand-first experiences? Customer touchpoints and interactions — each of which should highlight your solution to a (or their) problem and why they're important. When done correctly, it will bring to light how your brand, your culture and your values differ from your competitors.

Here are the three ingredients of the secret sauce:

  • Values: the principles and ideals that drive your business

  • Differentiation: what you do to stand out and which others can't easily copy

  • Unfair Advantage: what you have that no one else has

Converge all three in a customer touchpoint, and you've found your secret sauce. Here's how one of our clients did it:

Values

  • One of their core values was respect. It was a part of their internal culture. But they hadn't injected it into their communications.

Differentiation

  • This organization worked in a specific region of the world. They didn't go anywhere else.

Unfair advantage

  • Because of their extensive experience in the region, our client had more local partners to leverage for their projects. This gave them an expansive regional network that other organizations couldn't access.

To mix their secret sauce, they started injecting these three areas into customer touchpoints. They showed respect to customers by introducing a high level of transparency, and they highlighted what made them different from everyone else on the playing field.

The result? The brand attracted more dedicated customers and landed their biggest sale yet. Review your customer touchpoints. Where can you inject your values, differentiation and unfair advantage to create more powerful, brand-first experiences?

Sometimes it doesn't work to infuse all three without it feeling forced. Simply overlap as many as you can, and you'll highlight the brand in ways that turn your customers/clients into your biggest advocates.

Related: 3 Trends to Keep Customers Engaged in 2022

Map out the customer experience

After you have your secret sauce, map out every step of the customer experience to find touchpoints where you can throw in the sauce.

No need to complicate it. On a simple piece of paper, plot out the customer's journey from initial interest to thank you cards. Include landing pages, emails and more. Select the key places where you can inject your secret sauce for big impact, and start embedding your values, differentiation and unfair advantage into those touchpoints. That's the trick to turning transactional communications into powerful experiences.

A great example: Zappos used to randomly send pairs of socks to customers who purchased shoes. Not knowing if you'd get socks (or whether they'd be plain socks or funny socks) created a sense of excitement that became part of the buyer's brand experience.

Emotionally connect customers to your brand

To help customers emotionally connect with your brand, get them to laugh, cry or simply feel something.

Use stories with specific details to help them visualize the before-and-after difference that your brand offers and how it can change their life for the better. Draw them into the story of your ideal customer by showing what the world looks like to them, how your brand helps them, and zero in on their driving emotion. Tell simple, "sticky" stories that customers will remember and share with others.

Create a sense of community

Finally, you want each and every customer to feel like they're a part of a movement. Create opportunities for connection between customers, staff and stakeholders.

Whether it's a one-off purchase or your biggest customer, they all want to feel like they are a part of a community. And communities are what build ambassadors. When someone feels connected to others who share like-minded needs, it fosters a strong sense of partnership. And it creates loyal advocates who'll do more for your brand than you can imagine.

No matter what type of business you have, the three-ingredient secret sauce can help you turn your audience into emotionally invested ambassadors. First, look for audience touchpoints, then transform them into brand-first experiences highlighting organizational values, differentiation and unfair advantage. Tell on-brand stories, foster a sense of community, and, heck, send your customers random pairs of socks. The result will be a more deeply engaged and emotionally invested audience who will do more for your brand than you could ever imagine.

Mark Miller

Brand strategist and author

Mark Miller, co-founder of Historic Agency, leads product strategy, marketing transformation and brand. He has rebranded nearly 100 organizations and specializes in all things strategy including brand, product and marketing. He is the co-author of the Amazon bestseller “Culture Built My Brand."

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