Live from NRF: The Customer is in Control

Jan 17, 2008 7:13 AM  By

New York–“Brand is a promise kept,” according to John Greening, an associate professor of integrated marketing communications at Northwestern, and a former ad exec at DDB in Chicago.

In his session “Marketing in a World Where the Customer is in Control,” at the National Retail Federation here Wednesday, Greening said that marketers must figure out how to better influence customers and to how to take a fresh approach to handling customer perceptions of a brand.

Branding done well should make the buying experience effortless, he said. The customer will form habits where “they don’t have to think about what they are buying.” According to Greening, 75% of purchases are made out of habit.

For most of us, brands are only perceptions, he said, and when it comes to the customer, “the biggest media exposure is the employees.” At every point of contact, be it the call center, the Website or in the store, you have the opportunity and ability to communicate your message.

“Ad agencies do a great job with brand talk but they can’t help you align that within the organization,” said Greening. It’s the role of the retailer to “build brands through service rather than just brand communication.”

In other words, think about what you are doing for the customer, not to the customer. And remember that highly satisfied customers (as well as highly dissatisfied customers) talk to other customers.