by Ronii Bartles | Featured Contributor
Since starting to write for sheownsit.com 6 months ago I have written a lot about branding and how important it is to be consistent and stand for what you believe in. And as I was doing some research for this post and looking for a little inspiration I realized that there are a lot of articles and blogs out there about branding and they all pretty much say the same things. All the same things that I have been writing about over the past 6 months: consistency, storytelling, stand for what you believe it, be creative, etc. But you know the one thing that I have eluded too this whole time but haven’t really addressed front and center? Relationship branding and that branding is about people.
It’s that time of year that we are looking back and giving thanks and appreciation for all the things we have and how far we have come. But also looking ahead to next year and planning for what successes we want to come. All that stuff last year and all that stuff you want to happen next CANNOT happen without people. Someone, somewhere did or will do something for you. People really are the backbone of everything we do, especially your marketing and branding. So, I put this little list together of tips to connecting your brand to your people.
Meet people (in person or virtually): You actually have to know some people to make things happen, even if you are an online company. People buy your products and services, not computers. I have to admit, this one is hard for me. I can be a hermit and it is hard for me to “just meet people” in-person or virtually (honestly, in-person is easier for me than on-line. It’s weird to me to just pick random people and try and start conversations on Twitter.) I guess you can say that is my introvert-ness coming out. But it is important to meet and know people. People buy from you and then they talk to their friends and tell them how wonderful you are. It’s viral. YouTube videos don’t go viral because robots start sharing. Viral comes from people sharing.
Offer products and services your customers want: Once you meet people you should ask them questions about what they want to buy from you. Remember people don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want. It’s very emotional. Hit those emotional high notes by offering them stuff they want. The only way to find out what they want though is to ask them. Do a little research on your people and then develop products and services they really want so you can solve their problems.
Make your customers feel loved: Admit it, all you want in this world is to be loved, right? How clichéd romantic comedy-ish of me? But it is true. We all want to be appreciated and ‘loved.’ And like any relationship, sometimes actions speak louder than words. Show your customers and fans that you love them. Surprise them with a fun little gift out of the blue or stop by their office with a picnic lunch just to catch up. You’re a consumer, what would make you swoon over a brand that showed you the love?
Give thanks to your community: This really should be a regular practice. But we get so wrapped in our daily routines that sometimes is gets forgotten. Guilty (raises hand). But I love it when I get a hand written thank you note from a brand. That means a person took the time to think about me (another person) and show me a little love. See a theme coming out here? So while we are on the subject, THANK YOU for reading my posts here on sheownsit.com. I have loved every minute of it and hope that something I wrote struck a cord and made all the difference in your business.
Sit back and celebrate your successes: This is one we often overlook because we are so driven to the next goal and then the next and then the next. But this is a great time of year to sit back, be thankful and celebrate. Celebration is good motivation! Part of our brand story at B&A is Champagne Thursdays. Not only is it a good time to brainstorm new ideas but it also gives us the opportunity to unwind and celebrate for a minute.
Building your brand is about building relationships. Relationships with your customers, audience, peers, team, PEOPLE. I mentioned before that consumers want to know the people behind a brand but on the reverse side you need to know the people behind your customers. While you are doing your 2014 planning think about making relationship branding an initiative and begin to implement a strategy from the heart. It could take your business to the next level. What are some of your ideas for building strong brand relationships with people? How do you plan to start doing it even better next year?
Ronii Bartles - Marketing & Branding Expert from Bartles & Associates – Charleston, SC
Ronii is Bartles & Associates’ self-proclaimed Chief Rockstar. She has a whole list of amazing (but slightly boring) credentials like a Bachelor’s Degree from Shepherd University, a MBA from The Citadel, The Lowcountry Business Network Advisory Board Member and is President of the Charleston American Marketing Association, where she was also a 2012 Marketer of the Year Finalist. She loves to go around telling people that she actually is one of the Most Influential Women in Business in Charleston and a 40 Under 40 winner because the Business Journal told her so. Professionally, Ronii grew up in the marketing research industry and has been Director of Operations at ARG and W5. She took all that experience and started Bartles & Associates and roniibartles.com where Ronii and her team work with creative entrepreneurs and small businesses on developing branding and marketing strategies around what they do best, which they lovingly call Operations Marketing. B&A helps businesses uncork their potential by uncovering their WHY and then crafting that message into concise, memorable brand stories and marketing messages. Ronii is an active volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters for over twelve years, and won Big Sister of the Year in 2008. Originally from West Virginia (you can take the girl out of WV but you can’t take the WV out of the girl), she loves beer, college football (Let’s GOOO Mountaineers!), pizza, jeans and a t-shirt, and designer high heels. You can connect with Ronii on Twitter or LinkedIn or email her.