By Chuck Thomas / in Blog, NPOutlook, VALCORT DNA / February 22, 2013
The core of growth is the ability to build and nurture trust. The Four Stages of Trust is the blueprint to guide anyone into a high-trust relationship that creates change and fuels growth. The Four Stages of Trust are:
In an organization, we will assume for the moment that we have established shared values with a customer, and following that we have moved on to discuss and define a shared vision (the V of VALCORT). What responsibility to accomplish that vision, based on shared values, can the organization assume?
Companies and organizations make a promise to customers and partners based upon their capacity and the products, services, processes and programs they have built. In VALCORT terms, these are Assets — marketing assets and associations.
The A of VALCORT – Assets
Marketing assets and associations are the tools in an organization’s toolbox that equips an organization to make a credible promise and then deliver on that promise. If they can make a promise that has greater value than a competitor, they are likely to get the purchase. VALCORT assets allow the organization to compete in their market.
A great organization is constantly working to increase their marketing assets for strategic advantage. They manage existing assets wisely and use them to influence, capture and manage their customer relationships. They are constantly thinking about new assets to build, and often these show up as new “innovations.”
VALCORT Marketing assets fall into two categories – tangible (fixed assets on a balance sheet) and intangible (processes, people, brands, brand associations).
Tangible assets include items like facilities, equipment, trucks, warehouses, products and inventory, computers and networks, software, archives as an example. A growing and innovating organization continually audits the health and relevance of these tangible assets and uses them to create interest, build credibility, and establish competitive advantage and dominance if possible.
Intangible assets are those items that are not fixed property. Intangible assets fall into two categories – 1) concrete and defined, and 2) perceptual assets or associations.
These are assets generally “squishy” with the company having less control over how these assets are managed than fixed, tangible assets. They are difficult to manage and require a disciplined approach and constant care. These intangible squishy assets, however, are where the real competitive and market power exists because they tap into a different part of the buyer’s brain that establishes meaning and value. This is the center of decision making. When you can lodge these intangible assets into a prospects mind, your are getting as marketers say, “share of mind.”
Concrete intangible assets
Concrete intangible assets are entities that you can identify and know. They are defined by the company and represent value to the customer. You know them when you see them, you recognize them. Concrete intangible assets include items like people that work or are affiliated with the company, services, plus brand marks, logos, colors and shapes, promotional campaigns and ads, even the profile of a typical customer group, to name a few.
Examples are like the puffy doughboy affiliated with Pilsbury, or the Golden Arches of McDonalds. They can be people affiliated with the company, like Steven Jobs with Apple, or Bill Gates with MicroSoft, Donald Trump with Trump Towers, or in the non-profit world, Chuck Colson with Prison Fellowship or Jesse Jackson with The Rainbow Coalition. They can be services affiliated with the organization, like Google and its search engine technology or MasterCard offering services to charge a purchase today and pay it off later. As marketers we can create them, use them, nurture and extend them to ensure that there is something attractive to the market about these intangible assets. They can be defined, managed, controlled to some extent.
Perceptual intangible assets
Intangible assets can also be perceptual or associations that customers have with the company or brand. These perceptual ideas and thoughts are built up with every thought, mention, conversation, experience that the customer has with the brand. This is the center of the purchase decision. It is where feelings and emotions exist in the brain matter. Scientists have discovered over the last 10 years that this area of the brain is largely the decision center. In general, they have found that facts inform perceptions, but perceptions and emotions drive decisions. If the impression and perception is negative due to a slow drive up window, or waiting on hold for 15 minutes while the a customer service rep gets back to you, or a faulty printer that just doesn’t seem to work right. These perceptions build up and impact how people buy. They can have meaning like old friends and family, or they can exude different personalities being adventurous.
Managing these perceptions is tricky and both art and science. If you’re going to build a home, you probably don’t want to feel that your builder takes unnecessary risks as he chooses the materials for your dream home. On the other side, if you’re decorating the interior, you may want someone to help you that is innovative, adventurous, not someone that’s stodgy and stuck in a time warp 20 years ago.
Managing these perceptions is tough work. However, when an organization can have more touch points with a customer, and can control the experience, and the value that is delivered, they can be successful at “engineering” or creating a consistent customer experience to strengthen the perception of the brand.
This is why organizations have raced to the internet and social media. It is an inexpensive touch point that they can exert more control over the experience and conversation about the company, its brands, and how its perceived.
Unfortunately, most social media and internet companies don’t understand this and sell delivery services to eyeballs. In most cases, the companies do more damage to their customers perception and trust than help. Communications are shallow and transactional.
Building, nurturing, managing, delivering, and promoting assets are fundamental to building trust and fueling growth and innovation. Knowing, creating and leveraging these marketing assets is a critical and essential VALCORT discipline.