We all strive to be like Apple, Disney, Amazon, and Google: the kind of brand that people not only support, but whose logos they stick on their car windows, and in some cases tattoo on their bodies. Now, that might seem a bit extreme. But when people love your brand, you have such a competitive advantage that while your competition is still trying to sell people on who they are and why they should buy their stuff, your loyal customers are already in the process of deciding which items in your store to buy.
With today’s short attention spans and easy, instant access to the world of information, what leads to a world-class brand, one that is loved, not just liked? So how is this done? It’s not easy, and there are no guaranteed silver bullets. But, like everything else, there are processes and considerations that can give you the best chance at being loved. Let us walk you through our process guiding strategic acronym, TRUST: Truthfulness, Relevance, Unselfishness, Simplicity, and Timing.
T) You need to ensure that you are unequivocally TRUTHFUL and TRANSPARENT. With trust at such low levels in society right now, brands that create trust outshine the competition and dominate their place in the market.
We usually consider mistakes to be disgraceful, but everyone makes them. Owning mistakes shows customers respect and care, which sadly most companies do not demonstrate. If you make a mistake, admit it and be genuine about it. A customer can forgive a business for messing up and fixing it. If however, they catch you in a lie, then your brand will forever be tarnished in their eyes, and they will tell their friends. Your customers will be far more forgiving of mistakes if you have a history of being forthright in all interactions, the positive and negative ones. Don’t be scared of transparency! Instead, consider it a great tool for increasing brand loyalty. Own your mistakes, and simultaneously stand strong in your value proposition.
R) You need to stay RELEVANT by knowing your customer and understanding what they value most and why. This is not some-thing you do once, and then you’ve got it. You must follow and make sense of the trends.
When I was in college in the 90’s, my then-55-year-old dad once tried to look cool to me and my friends by wearing a pair of JNCO phat pants. Needless to say, I shut that down! Just putting on the clothing or listening to the music is at best superficial, and at worst plain embarrassing. You need to understand why the trends matter, not just appropriate them on the surface. Keep your eyes and ears open, and continuously acknowledge of the interests and values of your customer demographic.
Interact with them on social media, and show them that you care about what they care about. It’s well known that millennials value results achieved far more than time put in. That’s why they are so into productivity hacking. Knowing such trends before they are widely adopted makes you a thought leader and a brand to be loved.
U) Demonstrate UNSELFISHNESS. Freely give value to your customers and expect nothing in return. You often see this as people offering their expertise for free via content marketing pieces and social media interaction.
The more you can demonstrate your subject-matter expertise and desire to really help people, the easier it gets to make the sale. Educate people on achieving their goals and overcoming their difficulties. People are attracted to givers and repelled by takers. So give advice generously.
This is not wasting time! In fact, building trust this way is one of the most meaningful and cost-effective forms of marketing. That’s because when the time is right—when trust is established—they will be ready for you to show how your services or products will take them much further toward achieving their goals and overcoming their pain points than they could ever go on their own.
S) SIMPLICITY – Keep communication simple and to-the-point. Less is almost always more, and ambiguity always makes you look bad.
I’ll say it again: Keep It Simple Stupid. We are all spread too thin and suffer from in-formation overload. Grab my attention, and as clearly and succinctly as possible, sell me. Because otherwise –SQUIRREL!!!—and there goes my attention.
As for ambiguity, it comes down to trust. If we don’t understand something, it raises a protective flag, and the mind errs on the side of distrusting what we do not understand. It is simple survival. Clearly some people are wired differently, but for most, it goes back to making them feel comfortable enough to trust you.
T) And never forget that TIMING is everything. You cannot be relevant if you have bad timing.
Simply put, knowing when to deliver and pitch to someone is key. That’s why gyms might have educational social content all year long, but do most of their hard marketing before New Years. It’s always great to offer value freely, but perfect timing is crucial when you want to go in for the kill.
On the other hand, consider how United Airlines could have prevented that cringe-worthy PR horror when a few employees dragged a doctor off an overbooked plane. Had United been ready, they could have jumped in right away and turned the mistake into an opportunity to demonstrate customer care. You’ve always got to consider the best time for your proactive marketing efforts and be ready to jump on moments that call for reputation management.
If there is only one thing you take away from this article, it should be that trust and devotion—the elements of a loved brand—are always earned, never given. They are earned through your demonstrated respect and care for your customers. So while these aforementioned elements are time-consuming, the investment today will not only gain you loyal followers but also create barriers for your competition tomorrow.
Be smart, and stay ahead of the curve – make your brand world-class and loved.