Bailey Video Podcast: How Can Brand Strategy Enhance the Buyer Journey?
The Bailey Video Podcast is an ongoing web series centered on brand creation and development. In each episode, Bailey’s branding experts are joined by industry leaders and subject matter experts to candidly discuss some of the most important topics facing brands and businesses today.
Our latest episode features insights on how brand strategy can enhance the buyer journey from Charlie Cole, former Chief Executive Officer of FTD and Chris Bailey, President and CEO of Bailey Brand Consulting. The two discuss the importance of brand strategy in an environment where the consumer journey has become increasingly complex and competitive.
View the conversation on how brand strategy can enhance the buyer journey. Discussion points include:
- How can brand strategy create a holistic online and offline experience?
- How can you guide your customers through an increasingly complex purchasing journey?
- What are some common points of friction that can influence a buyer’s journey?
Charlie Cole, FTD Chief Executive Officer: Think about that buying journey, about the combination of all those touchpoints. The thing that gives you the best chance of success is the brand narrative that unifies all of it. That unifies the experiences that are bought and paid for; that are word of mouth; that are experienced in day-to-day life.
Voiceover: Welcome to the Bailey Video Podcast. Today we're talking about how brand strategy enhances the buyer journey with Charlie Cole, chief executive officer of FTD, and Chris Bailey, President and CEO of Bailey Brand Consulting. Let's take a listen.
Chris Bailey, Bailey Brand Consulting President and CEO: Tell us a little bit about your career journey and how you became CEO at FTD. I know you've got a great digital background; give us a little bit of the credentials.
Charlie Cole: As my career progressed, it started very direct-response-focused. The thing that I've learned the most about and what ultimately prepared me to be a modern-day CEO of a 111-year-old brand is this marriage between generative creativity and iterative media buying and marketing.
If you can find that confluence, you're sort of like Voltron. That's where your output really comes from. It's been a very fun journey for me, but that's been my largest learning experience — supplementing what I'm naturally good at, which is performance, with the ability to marry that with great creativity and brand strategy to build great businesses.
Chris Bailey: So, when you think about the whole brand experience and the way you think about some of your finance and math ideas there — how do you think that ultimately influences purchasing and consumer behavior?
Charlie Cole: Purchase journeys are this amazing amalgamation of conscious and subconscious moments. If I was to ask you: "Hey, Chris, you have plants behind you. What inspired you to buy those plants?" You're going to say a bunch of things, but you're going to be inspired by probably 5x more. You're going to be inspired by visiting a friend's house and saying to yourself: "huh, all those potted plants were nice," and then forgetting that ever happened.
From seeing an advertisement on the subway to hearing in a radio advertisement to seeing a digital display ad to seeing friends post on Facebook.
If you think about that buying journey, about the combination of all of those touchpoints, the thing that gives you the best chance of success is the brand narrative that unifies all of it. That unifies the experiences that are bought and paid for; that are word of mouth; that are experienced in day-to-day life.
So, I'm in a business right now where 80% of our business is flowers. We are inspired and touched by flowers thirty times a day. Whether it's walking down the street or seeing the background on your computer — the ubiquitous flower screensaver, you know? So, inspiration comes in a variety of forms. A modern-day brand has to have a consistent narrative that makes a fabric across all those touchpoints. And yes, when it finally comes to serving an advertisement, the advertisement has to be catchy and beautiful and have a clear call to action, and then it has to land on a website that's high-functioning and has all the modern-day payments. But if you take that buying journey and look at it before they come to FTD.com, I'd say 85% to 90% of the touchpoints are well before that moment.
I really think that, if you go back to your question, where does performance take over?
It's that last third. It's that media buying; it's the landing page optimization, it’s the checkout optimization, it's the post-purchase flow, it's the order tracking. All of those things are natural to a high-performance marketer, a digital analytical marketer, but 66% or maybe 70% of that journey is more about the narrative and the creative that precedes the performance-driven moments.
So, I think I'm just naturally quite good at UI and UX and naturally quite good at media buying and naturally quite good at checkout optimization — but that generative piece is where a lot of performance-based marketers miss the narrative and ultimately miss the lion's share of the buyer's journey.
Chris Bailey: You were at TUMI for a while, and I think one of the funniest experiences we had together was when we were in New York. We had dinner, and of course, I invited you back to our hotel for a quick drink, and I'm dragging a Briggs & Riley suitcase, and you're saying that is just not going to ever happen again.
The thing you were interested in tracking was not just the digital activity but how the whole omnichannel experience affects both online purchases and in-store at that point because you had both.
Tell us a little bit about how you think about that because that was really two different channels to manage in an interesting way, and they probably both influenced one another.
Charlie Cole: There's a macro over this journey that is not unique to high-end luggage, Chris, but it’s also true with cars or first-class air travel. It's a very high consideration purchase.
If you're the sort of person you and I have been in our lives, where I think my peak air miles a year were somewhere in the 400,000s, your luggage matters. That is a part of day-to-day life. It's also one of those products where you don't really know how good you have it until you don't, or until something goes wrong. For me, that online/offline perspective becomes that much more important when you're talking about a multi-touch consumer journey. Now, it's very different where if it's 5 p.m. at night, you say to yourself; I'm hungry, I need a pizza. That online-offline journey is very different when you’re thinking: “holy cow, I have a three-week business trip coming up, I'm going to Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Indonesia and I don't have a bag.”
Those are two very different purchase journeys, and the online-offline attribution piece becomes that much more important when you talk about a high-considered purchase journey. We were always trying to map back the idea of “can we tie a visit to an in-store purchase?” If you think about that, it's just an analytical challenge — you just don't have any other way. It's an analytical challenge.
Can you map cookie to in-person? In a flawed manner. There are some tools out there that will say this is a mobile IP address, and we saw it and detected your phone. That was all the rage four or five years ago, but it is going to become harder and harder and harder and harder as the crackdown for privacy starts to exist with the advent of iOS 14.5. So, that's tricky. The dream scenario is to have a base of consumer IDs that they give to you on both ends of the journey. Email addresses are the dream scenario and the idea of a loyalty platform. When someone logs on to your website, they sign in, and sure enough, 14 days later, they're in the store buying the thing they were looking at on your website. So, at its core, tracking is an analytical challenge — but your brand strategy has to be persistent between your website and your store. It can't look entirely different. It can't have a different feel; it can't have different branding; you can't have a different price. That's where I think there's this amazing aspect of good traditional qualitative brand strategy being married to the hardest analytical marketing there is, from a performance threshold. I think that's why you and I naturally gravitate to it when we talk about it in conversation.
Imagine Audi, right? How does Audi track website behavior to in-store car dealerships, which they don't own but are independently owned by third parties? I would bet a big part of it is that when you register for a warranty, they link that IP address to your login back to the website. I don't know, but I think that’s it. One thing I will tell you is that the Audi website sure feels like an Audi dealership.
It has that level of craftsmanship. It has the same logos, the same type font and the same voice. It's one of those ultimate marriages of quantity and quality, where the tracking can be quite challenging, but you have to make sure you have the qualitative aspect of brand advertising right too.
Chris Bailey: You're now CEO of FTD; you've got a 110-year-old brand or 110+-year-old brand. You have virtually thousands of small businesses cobbled together, delivering an experience that you probably have some limited control over. How do you get at something that seems like a general idea of a consistent experience for somebody if they call from Peoria, Illinois, or from Philadelphia, New York, or somewhere else?
Charlie Cole: Let me just throw some gas on that fire because it's way worse than you think. It's way worse than you think. I'm sitting here holding up a calculator, for those who can't see this, if you're on Amazon, you see this calculator, and you buy this calculator, and it comes in a box, and you open the box, you're going to see this calculator, and there's no fungibility to it — it looks exactly like what you bought. Flowers might play a little bit differently. What if I sell you a really fresh flower that hasn't quite popped yet? Like, that's a good thing. Peonies are one of the biggest challenges because when they pop, they pop, and they're beautiful — but you want them to come in a very tight bundle. How do you photograph that? How do you speak to that? What is the pre-purchase, on-purchase post-purchase experience? By the way, 92% of the time, my buyer and receiver are different humans.
So, this concept of a consistent customer experience is, first off: I have a living thing, which is changing by the second. Second off: I have two customers; I have the buyer and the receiver every single time. There's a lot that goes into this process. From an onsite messaging perspective, we talk about substitution policies. So if you see a thing that has three red roses, three alstroemeria, and six peonies in it, what happens if our florist only has two red roses? How do we prepare you for a substitution that might happen? We have to do that nonstop because we know the only way for you to get expert experience is to use our florists, but our florists might have Chris Bailey walk in their store that morning and buy every single red rose they've got. You just don't know. It's a remarkable messaging challenge, both pre-purchase and post-purchase because now you've bought this thing, and you're waiting to receive what? A cell phone shot from the person you're sending it to, saying thank you so much it was so thoughtful of you to recognize the funeral I attended. It was so thoughtful of you to recognize the birthday I had. It was so thoughtful of you to send a get well soon message because I just got a cancer diagnosis. So, now you have the customer experience of why are you sending flowers? It could be the happiest moments of your life or the worst moments of your life. Thinking about all these things puts a lot of pressure on us. And my answer is going to be fairly simple, Chris. It all comes down to our relationship with our florists and our ability to communicate with them in an honest, transparent and consistent way. Because if I can prepare them for Valentine's Day, we're all going to need to send this bouquet and this bouquet is our big idea, and I want you to be prepared to send 1200 of them, and I need to have 300 on Friday, 300 on Saturday, 600 on Sunday, be ready with delivery drivers. Well, is delivery a problem? Cool.
We're going to do a deal with Roadie and DoorDash so that we have supplemental delivery. We're trying to solve the core operational concerns for our florists, like forecasting and backend operations, while also marrying that with very transparent customer messaging so that everybody has the same expectation of what's going on. It sounds simple, but I can say in this industry it's the hardest one I've ever had because of the emotional intensity of the moment, because of the difference between buyer and receiver, and because, ultimately, our back end is 10,000 small businesses, all of which have different flowers at different times in different seasons in different formats. It is, in a lot of ways, the ultimate customer experience challenge. I would also say in the 22 months I've been at FTD, it's the area where we've made the most progress. And I say that from a customer satisfaction perspective, from a lifetime value perspective, from a florist satisfaction perspective. It's been our core focus since the day I got here.
Chris Bailey: Just remarkable as always. I always feel like in a short amount of time; we cover a lot of ground.
Charlie Cole: It's always a blast to talk to you, Chris. I hope we get to make another one of those dinners soon enough. It's been too long for a variety of reasons.
Chris Bailey: Well, thank you. I appreciate you coming on.
To learn more about this topic or to discuss an issue impacting your business, contact Bailey’s Vice President of Client Services, Jamie Gailewicz, at 610-818-3103 or email us at [email protected].