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Value migration and what publishers can do to avoid losing customers

November 8, 2010

Experience of brand today is crucial to success, yet a key problem faced by publishers is that once a customer comes into contact with them, they are greeted by complexity and fog. Why is this so? Because many publishers, driven by the need for turnover, dilute brand focus and present instead a raft of titles and information sources which can confuse perception and quickly deflate customer experience.

Today, brand must be simple  it it is to be effective. A distillation of core themes into minimal – yet easily grasped – fundamentals. Adrian Slywotzky, who wrote the challenging and invigorating Value Migration, warns us of the problems of letting your brand collapse: people simply move elsewhere and take their spending with them. Value – revenue – migrates to other suppliers.

Brand collapse is a major problem for companies which lose touch with their original aims or who fail to engage their staff in their ethic, aims and customer focus. If companies fail to live up to their offering, customers will move elsewhere – which is, for example, why many book buyers today prefer to buy from Amazon.

Amazon is about instant gratification, perfect customer service, and the ability to return goods promptly if necessary. But most publishers don’t have this easy-to-understand brand – where promise, expectation and delivery engender new and repeat business.

In this clip from Adrian Slywotzky, a simple approach to avoiding brand collapse and value migration is given:

  1. Converting the rhetoric of being customer-focused into reality – don’t just say you’re customer focused, do it and prove it via detailed data mining, segmentation and focused marketing
  2. Manage brand risk better than your competitors – anticipating, preventing and even reversing competitor activities
  3. Involving personnel with company strategic vision at the beginning and throughout

Of course, management is easier said than done but as Slywotzky implies, successful brand management is about defining promise, engaging staff in its delivery, empowering staff with tools of competitive response, and avoiding the trap of vanity over substance.

So what is it about your business that attracts and retains customers? Indeed, do you attract and retain customers? How many new customers are still with you next year? Can you afford a brand that is transient in the minds of your customers (and with inherent ongoing high marketing costs)?

Brand distillation and delivery lie at the heart of successful publishing businesses (indeed, any business). The task is creating the right environment for long-term brand vitality and relevance. Value migration is inevitable if publishers fail to engage with their customers in a meaningful way.

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