As the holiday season winds down, business owners are looking ahead to the new year and with it, opportunities to win the hearts of new and loyal customers alike. We know that marketing has changed drastically over the last few years. Gone are the days of hard facts and cliché gimmicks. Today, people demand the anti-marketing strategy. They demand to be truly cared for, to emotionally connect with a brand.
This emotional connection reaches further than the brand story. It is woven in the fibers of every consumer experience with a product. For you to stay competitive, you have to reach people on this level – one that humanizes your company and shows how much your customers mean to you.
If you’re not sure how to go about this, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Let’s look at how some other companies have succeeded and assess whether it can serve as a model for your brand.
Focus on building relationships, not selling stuff
Of course the objective of your business is to sell your product or service. However, if you prioritize making people’s lives better, they will prioritize your brand. Apple is the perfect example of a company with this focus for a couple of reasons:
- Their stores give people freedom. The Apple store feels like adult Playland to a lot of people. Consumers are free to browse and try every display with a sense of fun, and without obligation. Apple is also known for letting people do things you can’t do in other stores. Mark Malkoff from mydamnchannel.com tested the limits of Apple Stores’ loose restrictions. In his Apple Store challenge, on separate visits, he had a pizza delivered, enjoyed a romantic dinner with his wife (which included live music and dancing), and brought a goat into a store. Employees let him do all of these things.
- Their employees are genuine fans of the brand. Everyone who works for Apple is not just knowledgeable, he or she likes the products. They speak from experience when interacting with customers. They are sincere in their recommendations, and they truly want to fit each person with the right product.
You don’t need to allow goats in your store to heighten your level of customer service. Create an environment that says, “We want you to feel comfortable and happy when you shop our store, and we want you to leave feeling like you really understand what our products will or won’t do for you.” Your personable sales team is a great start to making people feel at home, but how can you take that further? Could you create a video tour of your top-selling products to start addressing basics while people wait for an available salesperson? Could you have stations where people follow instructions to interact with your product and actually create something while learning about it? Could you hire assistants, say in apparel, who can expertly help people find the right size and style for individual body types? What do people need from your product, and how can you give that to them in a way that shows you care about them, not your sale?
Tap into the most important emotions
For this, you need to understand what is most important to your target market. If your product is marketed to parents, you know their primary interests always revolve around the welfare and wellbeing of their children. Even if you sell something for adults, like cars, your company can focus on kids. Volvo, for example, has long emphasized safety. To take child safety further, Volvo teamed up with Lego to offer rides in child-sized, Lego-like “Volvos.” During the ride, kids learn about the importance of obeying traffic rules, wearing seat belts, and other lessons to encourage life-long safe driving.
Is there a demonstration, promotional item, gift, training, or service you could offer that supports the things your consumers really care about? Consider whether you are the first step in a process or last, too. For example, if you offer cleaning services, could you offer tips or promotions on high-end party ideas? If you’re a photographer, could you offer a guide to local caterers, wedding planning, or something that will make life easier for the bride-to-be? Connect with someone who will need your services by helping them with something they are thinking about before that.
Create a shareable experience
Whether it’s brightening someone’s day or creating a photo opportunity, give people a reason to share with one another. This is especially powerful if you can get them to share it on social media. Coffee shops do a great job of this.
Caribou Coffee has a cardboard polar bear (or abominable snowman? What is that thing?) with the face cut out. People are taking pictures of each other with their faces in the cutout and sharing them on social media. Caribou also has long-running campaigns for people to write holiday stories, reasons to stay awake, and other personal input to share in public mediums.
Starbucks baristas are becoming famous for butchering customers’ names. One patron shared that he told the barista his name is “Marc with a ‘C.’” The barista wrote “Cark” on the cup. Funny, right? Kind of makes you want to go to a Starbucks to see how they can screw up your name. You’ll find yourself compelled to take a picture of the cup to share with all of your Facebook friends, because this experience isn’t as great if only you know about it.
Any reason you can give people to interact with each other creates an emotional connection between them and your brand.
Whether it’s the service your employees deliver, the in-store experience, or cultivating bonds through your brand, tune in to what people really want from you. Engage their emotions and you’ll have a brand people care about.
If you want to share your brand message on a display holder, tag holder, or promotional item, Vinyl Art makes it easy for you to get what you want when you want it. Retailers across the country prefer our high-quality, attractive products, and we know you will, too. Contact us to see how we can make your brand shine: 800-569-1304; firstname.lastname@example.org.