RHO: Cornerstones

Four Cornerstones

In last week’s post on reputation, I talked briefly about the Four Cornerstones of RHO

The Four Cornerstones of RHO

  • Identify
  • Inform
  • Educate
  • Engage

These are simple labels for what you’re already doing (or should already be doing).  They’re just a way to help you remember to stay on track.

Identify

I’ve already done this in this post.  I’ve identified the four things you should keep in mind when doing your online marketing.

Identifying works in two directions:  You identify your potential market (your potential customers), and you identify the items or services you sell.  The simple question you’re trying to answer is “What is this?”  I’ll use a supermarket as an example.   You have fresh foods, packaged foods, and frozen foods.  Each has their own section in the store.  Within the fresh foods, you have meat, produce, and dairy–each of which is clearly labeled.  Within the meat department, the case is divided into beef, pork, and chicken–each in their own section of the case.  And within the beef section,  you have separate areas for each of the cuts–usually with the choicest cuts at the top and the value packs at the bottom.  Each of those sections has a label, as does each package.

Everything has a label (or packaging) which clearly identifies what the item is.  In your marketing and advertising efforts, you want to do the same.  You want to clearly state who you are and what you do.

Inform

The first question you’re answering here is “What makes this product special?”

You tell your customers about the products price, materials, and place of origin.  You talk about specifications, uses, and features.  You list price, warranties, and add-ons.   Information is factual; it can be quantified and compared against other products or services.  When buying a car, you want to know MSRP, horse-power, mileage, curb weight, turning radius, and features.  When buying ice cream, you want to know flavor, sugar content, additives, and calories per serving.

The second question you’re answering is “How do I contact this business?”

Where are you located?  What’s your website? What’s your phone number? When are you open? Are you on social media? Do you deliver? Are you accredited?

Educate

Educating your customers (potential and actual) goes deeper.  You’re answering “Why?”  Why is your product worth the price?  Why are you better than the competition?  Perhaps you have a fresh produce store and you inform the market that your prices are higher, but all your produce is organic and fair-trade.  You need to educate your potential customers on why “fair-trade” is worth the extra costs.  For your existing customers, you may need to educate them on why the vidalia onion is a better choice for fajitas than the red onion.  Or you might get a good response by educating them on the array of delicious meals that can be made with papayas.

Young consumers care about the company behind the product as much as–if not more than–the product itself.  73% of millennials are willing to spend more money for “ethical products”.  And about 90% would switch brands to one that’s more ethical. Today’s consumers want to know why you’re a “good” company.  It’s up to you to educate them about your company,  your practices, and your products.

Engage

All of the above leads to this last–and most important–cornerstone:  Engagement.   In today’s world of social media and instant communication, it’s not enough to just post some advertisements and wait for customers to show up.  Consumers of all ages expect engagement.  They read and write reviews–and want feedback on their feedback.  They want to follow you and social media, and have you reply to their questions and comments.  They want to start conversations on Facebook and through the comment system on your website.  They want to feel that they’re connected to your company–and to you.

Engagement not only builds a vital relationship between you and your customers, it also provides you with valuable information about, and insight into, your customers and their purchasing habits.  The most basic feedback comes through polls and surveys that can be done through social media platforms.  Twitter, for example, has a “poll” button prominently displayed in the posting box.  Review sites such as Yelp or Google Reviews allow you to get honest (if sometimes rude) feedback on your customers’ experiences with you and your products.  Prompt and polite replies can help to mitigate bad reviews and show that you’re a company who cares.

But more than that, engaging your customers allows you to see into their lives.  Look at what they post on their own Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, or Instagram timelines.  What products are they actually buying?  How are they actually behaving?  What secrets are they sharing that can help you to provide better products and services to them?

A Solid Foundation

Keeping these four cornerstones in mind gives you a solid foundation on which to build your marketing plan.  Whenever you find yourself struggling for how to proceed, you can come back to the basics and think about how to answer the simple questions above.

And, as always, Redleaf Consulting will be here to help you.

Blaze is the founder of Redleaf Consulting. He started as a dishwasher at the age of 15, and worked his way up to Director of Marketing for a Sino-German joint venture in Jiangsu, China. He has over 25 years of experience in education, communication, and marketing.

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