Seven steps to becoming a “Sherpa Brand.”
“Sherpa Brand” is a relatively new concept. It is defined as a marketer or organization that anticipates consumers’ needs and provides expert guidance that makes their journey easier, enables better decision making, and most importantly, builds loyalty through trust.
Research from Nielsen and others show brands that succeed at becoming Sherpa Brands are more trusted and more likely to be purchased — and ultimately build a stronger role in the lives of their customers. Globally, 65% of consumers surveyed said they trust a Sherpa Brand, 50% said they felt loyalty to them, and 48% claim to be more likely to purchase from a Sherpa Brand.
So how do you become a Sherpa Brand? Here are seven suggestions:
- Understand the customer’s journey. Before a brand can truly guide, you must live in the customer’s shoes. That means not just understanding the ultimate goal of the consumer, but acknowledging the context, pain points and moments of decision. This will allow you to provide meaningful solutions along the way
- Establish your expertise. As a brand, think about what you can do to be the consumer’s partner in the decision/purchase process. Think of being the caddy to a pro golfer. Be someone the consumer can rely on to help him make decisions he is happy with. I’d wager your organization is rife with knowledge and expertise that could help your potential customer in his journey. Some advice we often share with our clients to help them get into this frame of mind is to ponder this question: Besides selling her stuff, what can your organization do to meaningfully help a customer?
- Help your customer sift through the chaff. The shear amount of information we’re exposed to each day is overwhelming. Google’s Eric Schmidt recently pointed out that more information is created every two days than was created between the dawn of civilization up to 2003. Educating your customers, and demystifying the decision process for them will move them to seeing you more as a partner than as a provider.
- Be transparent. Nothing infuriates a consumer more than a hidden agenda. Offer your expertise freely, with no expectation of making an immediate sale. Open a dialogue with the consumer. Figure out where he is in the purchase funnel, and make available to him what he could use to get to the next step. It’s important to keep the consumer in the driver’s seat, but offer support and insight when he feels he needs it.
- Live up to your promise. To be viewed as an effective partner, you have to build trust. The good news: as Nielsen pointed out, once you earn a consumer’s trust, she is more likely to be loyal to you, meaning you’ll no longer have to compete for her business on a transaction-by-transaction basis.
- Exceed customer service expectations. Granted, this sounds cliche. But as the work of Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman has shown, the element of “surprise” can elevate a satisfactory experience into one that is shared and builds an emotional connection with customers.
- Provide tools and platforms that allow delighted customers to share their experiences. Solicit input and get testimonials. Prompt reviews. Build case studies that can be shared. Customers appreciate the opportunity to share. Give them permission.
Becoming a Sherpa Brand can help you become something that’s almost unheard of in this day of eroding brand loyalty: indispensable.
Posted by Mickey
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