February 11, 2016
Buyers want to be wooed, not sold, duped and tricked.
Successful brands communicate with customers outside of just advertisements.
Message consistency across your website, social media presence and direct communications with customers is crucial.
Build relationships with your customers beyond the traditional buyer-seller mentality.
Until recently, marketing was very simple—create an ad campaign, blast out commercials on TV and radio, bring in the customers.
In a sense, you could just show up to the sales party without an invite. As long as your company actually offered something decent and you had enough money to spend on advertisements, you were set.
Your company’s voice was academical and tyrannical—you knew what’s best for your customers, and no one was going to tell you otherwise.
The Internet changed everything.
Today, the best new brands aren’t achieving overnight success because of big-budget TV commercials or celebrity endorsements.
People are tired of being sold.
I get it, you have an amazing new product that’s going to change my life in just 10 days or my money back…right?
Brands are gaining ground today by becoming totally in-tune with what their customers want.
For a lesson in humility, look at Blockbuster.
Blockbuster is the poster child for Web 2.0 casualties, sunk in large part due to competition with Netflix.
But Netflix and the Internet didn’t kill Blockbuster alone—the company was perfectly capable of righting the ship and plunging into the booming and obviously lucrative market of online video services.
But they didn’t.
Blockbuster was completely out of sync with their customers’ desires. It had become a symbol of the past, a relic. By losing touch with its key demographic, Blockbuster had doomed itself whether the Internet came along or not.
Classic brands are nothing more than slogans, jingles, packaging and symbols. Modern brands are much more than that—they win followers by showing a more human side.
And that’s the crux of the issue. We can’t build a successful company with pushy sales tactics from yesteryear. Nobody wants another monolithic, faceless corporation on the block.
What they want isn’t a company at all—but a brand.
And here’s how to brand your company in a way that drives sales through the roof—no door-to-door salesmen required.
Take a look at this old ad:
From the falling water’s rainbow-tinted mists and the radiant ripples of the sunlit mountain pool came the inspiration for these alluring two-tone Ripple Rubber Waterman’s.
This comes from a 1920s advertisement for…wait for it…
Perhaps buyers in the ’20s were a bit more articulate than today, but the fact remains that no modern ads read like a rejected Walt Whitman poem.
Not successful ones, anyway.
People don’t want to do business with snooty, highbrow companies. What you think gives your company an air of prestige and expertise is really telling customers you can’t relate to them.
For most modern brands, there’s no room for formality for formality’s sake.
Their current site and messaging manages to capture the sophistication of Waterman’s name while still being conversational in tone, AKA engaging to readers.
And that’s what we’re striving for—engagement.
Engagement doesn’t happen by accident. To reel your audience in and convert them to happy customers, we have to start somewhere.
And that somewhere is content.
Content means blog posts, social media messages, web copy, eBooks…basically anything written by your company online.
— Zig Ziglar
Content has the power to rocket your business into the online stratosphere, and it also has the power to leave an awful taste in prospects’ mouths before they can ever see your sales message.
Since your brand needs to reflect real human values and emotions, your content must read like a conversation.
It’s just you having a beer with a couple friends, and you happen to bring up the topic of air filters or how to snag cheap plane tickets or the top five Mexican restaurants in El Paso.
You can sell softly as long as your primary message is providing genuine value—which means being helpful and relevant to your audience.
Engaging content is powerful in making prospects feel engaged…aka like they are dealing with a human not a faceless entity.
Maybe you don’t want to call your law firm “The Backstreet Boys of Divorce Law.”
But if you decide to promote your firm as helpful, honest and active in the community, every piece of content you put out needs to support that image.
Likewise, you’re not going to see us post a dry statistical summary as a blog post, because that doesn’t fit with our identity.
Some brands naturally trend towards humor and wit, elegance and prestige, or honest and down-to-earth.
These traits are reflective of how customers perceive your company, so producing content contrary to that image is going to confuse and turn off people from reading, visiting your site, and ultimately buying from you.
Create a vision, and stick with it until the end. This is critical for making your brand feel human, and alive.
Your website needs to be more than a portfolio, blog, or way for prospects to contact your company. A great website oozes with company values in every page, so that visitors know without a doubt exactly who and what you are.
We can do this in a few very easy ways.
Interesting ‘About’ Pages
On your about page, actually say something. Don’t limit your message to your founding date, the name of your owner, etc. Talk about who you really are!
If there’s one place you’re allowed to talk about yourself, it’s the about page. Make it interesting, keep it honest. Really tell people why your company exists.
Take It from the Top
Continuing the theme of creating a conversation with your customers, somewhere on your site should be a “letter from the CEO,” where you spill your heart out.
Here’s a great example we used for one of our clients:
You’d be amazed at how effective these personal addresses are. Rather than browsing a faceless website, your customers are now being guaranteed by the very person behind it all.
Share the Wealth
Odds are your company is brimming with talented voices who may not be getting the spotlight they deserve.
— Beth Comstock
While personable messages from the owner or founder are nice, producing content written by your team is even better—better because it shows customers that your entire business, from the CEO to the interns, wants to engage with them and solve their problems.
By building out each author’s profile section just like your company’s about page, you further distance you business from the “money-sucking vampire” image and closer to the “friendly neighborhood mom-and-pop” establishment.
Highlight your employees as people, not just businesspeople.
Hopefully you realize the importance of vivid imagery on your website, and aren’t expecting your browsers to sift through piles and piles of text on their own.
In that case, why not include pictures (in blogs, your home page, etc.) that are representative of day-to-day life in your company?
Real meetings, the half-empty donut box on the table, your smiling secretary…these all go a long, long way towards bringing your business to life.
Take a look at what we did for MEGA LED’s about page to humanize the company:
So don’t be embarrassed about putting yourself out there, and just smile for the camera already.
Have real conversations.
It’s really that simple. Nothing you produce online should sound canned or rehearsed. Make it natural.
On social media, really engage with your followers:
The opportunities are endless.
On your blog, make an effort to respond to every comment. Your readers don’t want to feel neglected, and replying quickly with a warm thanks and answering their question is a surefire way to build your brand (and your customer base).
Even your emails should be written like a letter (remember those?) to a good friend. Go easy on the sales copy, keep it short and sweet. From your headline to your signature, instill each email campaign with personality.
And do you know the best way to accomplish all of these goals?
Use the words “you” and “I” a lot—but mostly “you.”
And don’t forget to encourage your employees to be brand ambassadors on your behalf. A healthy brand’s employees are living, breathing, social proof that you can be trusted.
It’s about results.
More traffic, more leads, and more sales. Forging emotional connections. Earning trust.
Humanizing your brand is what works, and it works because it makes people feel good.
People are tired of being burned by liars and frauds. They just want to feel safe and secure, to trust you.
Pitch your customers with a hard sell, and they might buy once. Make your customers feel good and they’ll keep coming back again and again.
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