The “beginner’s mind” is a term describing the openness and lack of preconceived notions of someone just starting a project, a job, etc. One of the problems with becoming an expert in your industry, at your company, with your brand is the loss of a beginner's mind. And while you may not realize it, that lack of a beginner’s mind might be a problem in your current brand marketing.
As experts about what we offer, about our own brand, at a certain point we begin to make assumptions about how much others know about our product or service. One of the first places this shows up is in the use of unexplained industry jargon: Language leads actions. With those assumptions, we build unintentional barriers to ease of purchase and potentially create brand experiences which do not align to brand values or marketing plans.
The key word is “intentional.” Creating a brand experience - from start to finish - is an intentional act of marketing strategy. But the experience of a company is often comprised of touchpoints that happen outside of the Marketing Department; and those customer touchpoints may not have been created to align with the B-R-A-N-D, as defined by the company’s marketing.
Brand is built on first impressions, which are assembled into a cumulative brand impression by prospects who - if you are lucky - become customers. First impressions happen with every first interaction: The first time they hear about your product, the first time on your website, the first time they call, the first email you send, the first time they buy from you. The sum of all these interactions, large and small, with your staff, your company policies, and your communication strategy is their brand experience.
Your brand’s reputation isn’t driven over time by what you advertise so much as it is built interaction by interaction through what the people who make up your company choose to do, or not to do. Intentional communication plans build upon those interactions to align with your brand’s strategy. Wherever possible, are you being deliberate with those interactions?
Have you mapped out common touchpoints and how they would be experienced by someone reaching out to your company for the first time? If you have a physical location, have you walked in the door and looked at it as if you had driven 100 miles and walked in for the first time?
Have you listened to your own IVR (phone tree) as if you were a first-time caller with a question? Have you scripted (or better yet, enabled) your customer service staff to resolve common issues?
Have you navigated your website from home page action to contact form as a first-time visitor might? For any common question or activity, your staff should be remembering that it may be the one hundredth time they have answered the question...but, it is the first time this prospect or customer has heard the answer.
It’s likely each of these experiences was created by different departments and certainly by different staff - who may not have the full company communication plan in the forefront of their thought process while implementing it. While “Marketing” may not have oversight into each of these activities -- smart companies give the Marketing Team input into these brand touchpoints. Leading companies infuse their marketing culture into the company culture, so how the brand would react becomes how staff reacts.
If you want to improve first impressions of your brand, it’s as easy as opening your beginner’s mind, looking at current procedures and responses, and asking “Why?” Do not accept excuses or internal limitations as valid reasons. First-time customers do not understand your internal procedures; they are (rightly) focused on what they need, whether information or product. Perhaps there is another way to meet that customer need that will change your current limitations? If you start with a beginner’s mind, you have the opportunity to create an intentional experience that aligns with brand values.
Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Manager at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.