The Well of Good Will Part 3 - Building Good Will
Thanks for coming back for part 3 of my theory of the Well of Good Will. In case you missed them, part 1 can be found here, and part 2 here. For the third and final part of the theory we will be exploring a few (there are certainly others) of the key areas/ways in which a brand can increase the amount of good will they have stored in the well. We will be looking into the importance of a brand being consistent in their messaging and choosing their topics well. We will also be looking at a high level into the building of advocacy and encouraging advocates for your brand. This is a topic which is of special interest to me and an area in which I see myself as a specialist due to my past history and as such I will certainly be writing future blogs on the topic in more detail. Lastly we will look into the potential for scarcity to have a positive impact on perception of your brand.
Consistency & The Limits of Authority
Another important part of adding good will towards the well is about being consistent in your messaging while also being aware of what topics you can speak of as an authority. Consistency in tone, interactions and messaging is of utmost importance towards building advocacy as your advocates and those building good will towards yourself need to be familiar with you as a brand and able to predict what you might say/do next. For many customers part of their identity is built around the brands they use even if they aren’t aware. Coke or Pepsi, PlayStation or Xbox, the car we drive, the clothing brands we wear, etc. If for instance Coke decided to suddenly start doing branding/advertising in a similar manner to Red Bull, it would cause confusion and potentially strong reactions amongst those who use that brand as part of their persona.
I can’t stress how important this next part is as I have seen a large number of brands/companies fall into the same trap, as a brand identify and only speak about topics of which you have an authority to do so. For example, if the core product of your company is banking/finance then you can easily as brand speak of anything regarding those topics and be seen as an authority. You can also get away speaking about 1-step removed products such as financial apps, education planning, taxes, etc. However, if a bank begins talking about a non-core area it can be seen as confusing at least, or in the worst case can damage perceptions of the brand. It can also seem to be easy and extremely tempting for a brand to join movements and trending topics on social media, however if they as a brand do not have an authority/background to speak about this topic it can cause more harm than good. A good example of both these lessons would be Pepsi’s “Life for Now” campaign with Kendall Jenner in 2017 that was quickly pulled due to the backlash. This was an attempt to join the conversation (in a large budget way) of the Black Lives Matter movement, however in addition to the tone and approach being poor, there was nothing about Pepsi as a company that gave them the authority to speak about the movement. 1
Are you in a position where you are easily able to name a dozen or more advocates for your brand, be they social media rockstars, bloggers, video makers, or enthusiasts? If not, take an honest assessment of your communications up to this point. What have you done that added value to the lives of your customers? How often do you empower your customers to speak on behalf of your brand? When was the last time you made changes to your approach or product(s) based upon customer feedback? Advocates need not only positive experiences with your company, but also an open line of communication which they feel is impactful. Nothing will discourage an advocate faster and potentially turn them into a detractor if they feel the company they have put on a pedestal does not care about or listen to them. Meanwhile during times of company/PR fiascos, your advocates will quickly become some of the most important vehicles for maintaining your brand image amongst consumers and can reduce that amount of good will taken from the well. Take time to not only learn who your advocates are, but why are they your brand champions, and who they are as people beyond loving your brand/product(s). Building a personal connection, as it is when working with anyone, will not only strengthen the connection, but will make it easier to empathize during bad times.
Scarcity & Final Thoughts
I’d like to add some final thoughts to wrap up about a way in which you can add to the Well of Good Will that won’t be easily available/applicable for all brands, and that is through the concept of scarcity. Most will have heard of scarcity when it comes to sales, however I would propose it can be just as strong of a tool when used towards building good will and advocacy. If the customer(s) believe that they have a unique relationship with the brand, or that they are receiving something unique it can build a great deal of good will. For example, in the video game industry whenever there is a new title launch we also tended to produce press kits for the game. These would include not only a copy of the game but also some artwork, background information, toys, statues, etc. and would in general cost us around $100 to $500 to produce. They were unique sets that would be next to impossible to duplicate on a consumer level. I would always put in an order for more so that we could distribute (usually using competitions, or something of this nature) some of these kits to not only current advocates but also those who were showing an affinity for our brand. Another example of scarcity at work would be when the CEO from my former company giffgaff would call one of the members (giffgaff’s term for customers) at random to talk about their experiences with giffgaff, and thoughts, etc. Through something as simple as a phone call not only can you build good will and take an action in line with positive company values, but also that good will spreads onward to the friends, family, co-workers, etc. of that customer who will in turn tell others about the action. That is scarcity at work as by the nature of the action or gift being unique it ends up being shared.
I hope at this phase you have a clear picture of the Well of Good Will theory in action. We’ve talked about how to measure your industry and your place within it. I’ve also shared some examples of how you can build good will with your customer base via customer touchpoint mapping, consistency, empowering advocates, and scarcity. We’ve spoken a bit about the potential pitfalls, especially around speaking about topics of which you aren’t an authority and the lure of joining movements. I hope that something in this blog or parts 1 & 2 which you find helpful, applicable to your brand, or at least thought provoking as you build good will towards you company. As always, thanks for reading.