“You don’t become indispensable merely because you are different. But the only way to become indispensable is to be different. That’s because if you’re the same, so are plenty of other people.” – Seth Godin
Every company today wishes that no other business has what it does, and that no other company would have the same products and services or brand offerings. Making and keeping ones brand indispensable for customers is what every brand aspires. It would be a great feeling to be ‘the’ brand that customers turn to and buy, without question and apprehension. Making the brand indispensable for customers is the underlying premise of customer loyalty. When a brand is able to make its customers feel like they cannot manage without it, and that their world is incomplete without the brand in it, such a brand would be powerful and indispensable. The more customers feel that they cannot live without a brand, the closer a brand moves towards becoming indispensable and ensuring that pricing is rendered irrelevant.
Making your brand indispensable for customers is about showing customers what the brand stands for, independent of competition. Smart brands lead because they show purpose and relevance, and amply display how they can positively influence the lives of customers. Once customers are convinced of the usefulness and efficacy of its brand, it becomes a lot easier for a company to use that as the basis to mould customer behaviour in its favour, on a consistent basis. As we mentioned in a previous exposition, knowing customers is essential to success and hence, in order to make your brand indispensable for customers a brand must understand what its users try to accomplish in their lives on a daily basis. A brand must know why and when users buy the products the most, which platforms and technology do they use to connect, and what they expect to achieve from doing so. Indispensability of a brand would come about by uncovering the areas where it can add true value and relevance to the lives of the users.
Given that technology has increased the number of channels of communication and connecting, several brands believe that adding channels and upgrading technology would be the best way to attract customers. The mistake lies in the fact that most of these channels and technology might not be useful for customers. Brands seeking indispensability are a lot smarter – they add technology based on usefulness and relevance for the users, ensuring that they weave together inextricably with the behaviour and needs of the users. The premise behind everything a company does should be to create value and to satisfy the needs of customers – it is never a good idea to add or remove anything simply because ‘everyone else is doing so’ or assuming that it would be something that users could want.
By combining the understanding of their customers with the ultimate goal of the company, would enable a brand to innovate experiences. While a brand must be useful for its customers, this would not suffice over time. This must ultimately change to being a brand, which customers cannot do without – making your brand indispensable for customers is what must ultimately replace differentiation. An indispensable brand would be one that makes the lives of its users easier by keeping costs low, reducing time and effort, and providing seamless and effortless service.
Another core aspect of making your brand indispensable for customers is to humanize it. Humanizing or personalizing your brand is about understanding the feelings, emotions, moods, and needs of the users, and helping them to relate positively to the brand because they feel that all their needs would be met through the brand. Of course, it is harder for some brands to appear humanized, and if they try too hard could seem like they have a false personality, which could put customers off for good. Genuineness resonates with customers, and they are quick to perceive affected goodness. To make your brand indispensable for customers, create opportunities for them to interact with your brand, build their own credibility, and in turn want to promote your brand. Invite your top customers to write blogs or articles for your web presence -using it as content for videos, or educational webinars. In addition, a company could invite guest speakers from its customers to address gatherings at events, publish their books and or white papers on their online sites – all great ways to provide visibility and lend trust to the brand and the customer, before a large audience.
Apart from top class service, and relevance, another part of getting customers accustomed to a brand is by unfailingly offering great service and products. However, Top class offerings are now a given, with customers expecting this to be the case, and hence cannot be the point of differentiation for a company. The underlying principle of any efforts of a brand / company would be consistency. Customers do not accept erratic behaviours – they want a brand to be consistently great, reliable, accurate, polite, and friendly – and this should be true of any touch-point and every location the company would have its presence.
Customers connect with a brand to make their lives better and easier. Why would they engage with a brand that would make them ‘work harder’ to buy or conduct business? Today the brands that have become indispensable for customers, have in common the fact they make it easy and most convenient for customers to buy, return, exchange, pay, and even get support. The rules and guidelines of such brands exist to make it easier for customers. The ‘successful’ brands of today are so because they make customers feel special and wanted – they exist to make customers feel like the centre of their universe. If you want to make your brand indispensable for customers, just follow and emulate what these great brands do with regard to their customers.
No company / brand can work without its employees – employees who would feel empowered, energized, and would be willing to do whatever it takes to make customers feel comfortable and happy. If you want to make your brand indispensable for customers, ensure that your employees are happy first – they feel cared for enough, to become evangelists and ambassadors of the brand. Their love and respect for the brand would brim over, reflecting in their manner of behaving with customers, which in turn would lead to happy customers, eventually making the brand and the company extremely successful. Additionally, top brands know that in order to become indispensable, the employees must be highly skilled and trained such that they can educate customers on the benefits and features of the brand and products – as opposed to selling. This means keeping the best interest of customers at heart, whether the company is able to sell to them or not. Constantly pushing new products at customers even though the ‘new’ products may not be relevant or useful to customers, would over time result in customers distrusting the company, and abandoning the brand altogether.
The most important thing to remember when trying to make your brand indispensable for customers is never to take success and customers for granted. It is about striving for excellence in everything the company does, and through everyone in the company. While indispensability is a dream goal, and achievable to some extent, brands must remain humble and grounded in the knowledge that despite their efforts, they would be replaceable. Working through such humility would help to sustain the brand’s indispensability for longer.