Brand touch points are all the points where you, your employees, your products, your services or your messages touch a prospect or customer. A very simple concept… Easily elucidated and discovered, yet seldom used as a branding and marketing guide. No one has all the resources they would like in marketing. Everything is a balance of resources, money, time and ROI (Return on Investment). So shouldn’t you direct most of your time and effort into the places where you touch the world the most? Yes, yes, you say.
But do you? Or do you do your marketing and messaging based on what you know, or what worked once before for you, or what gives you most exposure with the boss, or what is more fun, or as a knee jerk reaction to the loud salesman, or as a repartee to the competitor’s campaign, or the one that will get you to travel to the right town or seminar?
Or even worse, what your new creative agency thinks is cool because they are keen to show off their new design tools and skills, especially where it makes them the most money? Even though they had never heard of you last month and still haven’t analyzed where and at what level and frequency prospects can be touched by you. And they are certainly persona non grata in the product design department.
Touch Points Process
Time to cut to the chase. Make yourself a spreadsheet like this table alongside. Add a lot more rows as needed.
Time / Point
Times / Year
Touch Minutes / Year
Marketing can complete this table probably by themselves, but for management to believe it, they need to be involved. So in column one, write down in any order, all the places where you “touch” your prospects and customers. Include indirect channels and partners too. Some obvious examples are sales calls, direct mail, trade shows, and PR stories, networking events, retail showrooms. But there are many more, including shipping, accounting, support, etc. Use a bigger piece of paper if need be…or better still, a very big whiteboard in the conference room. And document it all in a spreadsheet.
Now in column two, agree on the average Touch Time per point. Are phone sales calls really 20 minutes long each? How long are cold calls? And how long does your prospect really look at your brochure, your website and spend in your trade show booth? Do they use your product daily? Great…for how long do they see and know your name while they are using it? How long did they spend looking at your lobby when they visit vs the time they saw your banner at the techy conference or the billboard coming in from the airport?
Complete the Time column then stop and do a sanity check. Do they really spend longer reading your brochure than talking to tech support? Does your salesman really spend longer with them each call, than your field application engineer? Do they really spend longer actively viewing your trade show booth, than they spend in an educational seminar? Do they really spend more time with your accounting department, than they do with your dealer?
Now go back and complete column three, which says how many times a year you touch your customers for each event you timed in column two. For example, if you put down 8 hours for an educational course, how many course days per year? If you put down 15 minutes for a phone call, how many per year? 3 hours at the booth? Fine, but probably only once a year. And reading that brochure? 45 minutes? Maybe. But how many times a year? Compare and contrast with website access. Maybe only 5 minutes, but maybe 30 times a year.
So you can multiply every touch time by number of occurrences per year, to get total event touch minutes per year. In a future chapter we will see how to use all this fairly accurate data (even though it was collected without the services of an expert market research firm) to plan all your brand messaging efforts in times of focus points. But for now, I think you can see where it is going.
Perhaps you are already asking yourself why only the trade show marketing guys get fancy company polo shirts, and not the support or education departments. And if you touch the customer with hundreds of email messages a year from the company, why isn’t there a standard company signature line for all employees that promotes your brand and position?
This is also a great exercise to see why you probably don’t have to run billboard advertising. Unlike Pepsi, for example, you touch your customers and prospects every day. But unless you seek out the product, Pepsi can only touch you with expensive advertising as they are not going to meet you on the phone, on the internet, on a support call, in a classroom, at a trade show, in the trade press, or even in the store unless you really notice their vending display or merchandising materials. But they can catch your eye with packaging and point of purchase display materials, just like you if you sell off the retail shelf at Fry’s, CompUSA or Office Depot.
Checkpoint: Did you include accounting, service, investors, management, receptionists and delivery people in touch events?
The more times I have completed an exercise like this with clients, the more I have avowed that next time I do a consistent branding and marketing campaign I will probably start in the service and support departments!
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