The Future of Your Brand: Build Direct Relationships

direct relationships I can tell a lot from your brand by looking at your Twitter stream or Facebook page. If your feed is nothing but announcements or promotions, and no one is retweeting or sharing the content, then you are headed toward extinction if you don’t reevaluate and adapt your strategy.

Just a few years ago, if you wanted to reach consumers about your product or service, you either had to spend a lot of money on advertising or pitch and beg the mass media to cover you and spread the word. <!–more–> Control was in the hands of the few.

Thanks to the digitization of our world and the friending, liking and tweeting of brands, the game has completely changed.

Unfortunately, many brands continue to use social media channels as a form of broadcast advertising, as this was how they relied on media channels in the past as a conduit to the consumer.

In his new book, Ctrl Alt Delete, author Mitch Joel writes, “The next five years are going to be about how well a brand can actually change a relationship from one that looks at how many people are in their database (and how to target them with advertising messages)…to one focusing on precisely who those individuals are and how the brand can make the connection with them even stronger.”

The biggest opportunity for business growth is to develop direct relationships with your consumers.

In other words, you now have the digital tools and channels at your fingertips to foster and nurture direct, personal relationships with your consumers – your true fans.

Here’s how to get started:

Stop broadcasting and take the time to connect. Build relationships one by one. It’s not about the size of your list, it’s about the genuine connections you have with those in your community. Chances are, if you’re only broadcasting news about YOU, you’re missing the opportunity to make a real connection with THEM.

Speak your customers’ language. Get inside their heads. Find out what’s most important to them. Ask questions, take surveys, be curious. Start thinking and acting like your true customers.

Provide something of value to your customers. Be useful. Mitch Joel writes, “Make it about your customers’ needs. A great utility is something that adds tremendous value to individuals’ lives – and in doing so, makes them more naturally aligned with your brand. It’s not about you…it’s about them.” If you give something to people that they actually want and need, they’re more likely to keep coming back. If you continue to do this, you’ll build a loyal following over time – those who will send referrals your way and sing your praises to those who will listen.

Embrace the power of unpopular. Here’s a novel idea: you don’t need to be popular to be successful. You can’t be everything to everybody, so don’t bother. Find and nurture those people that are evangelical about you and your brand: your true fans. They, in turn, will become your biggest cheerleaders and bring endless referrals when treated with respect and graciousness.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the success of your business is about people, not lists. It’s about real connections, not advertising, manipulation or the right software.

The digitization of our world will continue to grow at lightning speed. Technology is a tool, not a panacea. The real gold is a deep, genuine relationship with your customers.

© Liz Dennery Sanders 2013

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