Everyone works in marketing now. That, at least, is the message we increasingly share with our clients.
In the past interactions with brands were often fleeting. You saw an advertisement on the telly, you spotted the product in the supermarket, and you took it home and tried it.
If you liked it, maybe you bought it again.
It feels like we are a long way from that world now.
Increasingly, brands are discovered through sponsored social posts and online placements. We often buy from brands directly. And if we are unhappy, we send the product back.
These days there are vastly more brand touch points – and customers expect all these interactions to be consistent and seamless.
It is no good having a quirky ad campaign if that same tone of voice is not carried through to the social media, website copy and packaging.
A brand experience is defined as much by the way customer support deals with a complaint as it is the way a website functions. It is all of this and more.
Some years ago I attended a talk in Manchester given by John Roberts, founder of the popular online electrical retailer AO.com.
Roberts explained that after launching the business it dawned on him that the only face to face contact his customers had with AO.com was on the doorstep when the goods were delivered.
The problem was that this was outsourced to courier firms whose staff had no incentive to help customers with bulky or heavy goods, or to install products and take away all the packaging.
No matter how competitive the price or slick the website might be it all fell apart on the doorstep.
And so AO.com built up their own fleet of trucks and hired drivers that would be willing to go the extra mile.
“What does this mean in practice?” says Roberts. “For a customer, it means being phoned by a driver to let you know what time your delivery will arrive. Or finding a plant or flowers with your delivery because the driver discovered that it was your wedding anniversary.”