It is well established that in the new economy, business is personal. A business absolutely MUST maintain its connection with people if it hopes to survive, and connecting on a personal level is how businesses will thrive in the Digital Age. But what does “connecting” really mean? How can a multinational corporation really connect with each customer – and what can the little guy teach the world about authentic branding?
Market Data is Useless
Today, markets are merging and changing so fast that the months you spend studying your market are rendered useless within weeks. It is no longer sufficient to gather lots of information about the demographics and interests of your market in order to craft a your branding message, you must be involved with your market! It’s the difference between imitation and talent. You must learn how to immerse yourself in the culture of your market to become part of their conversations, hobbies, interests, and passions if you want them to trust you enough to buy from you.
You Are Not Your Product or Service
The key factor that will separate you from your competitors, that “unique offer”, will never be the product you create. It will never be the premium service you offer. There will ALWAYS be someone who can offer the exact same thing as you (even if it’s a ripoff from you) for a lower price. Most services are covered. In reality, there’s almost no product or service that will make people love you so much they will never get a comparable one somewhere else.
What will make you unique in your marketplace is the trust that it has in you. Your brand either instills loyalty and creates raving fans, or it doesn’t. Those that don’t are forgettable and their days are numbered. In order to build an iconic brand that people love, you must earn their trust – one person at a time.
When we think of many of the top innovative companies today, we often forget that they all began very small. Nike did not become the leading shoe retailer for athletes by building a large factory and immediately producing a million shoes for the market. Apple did begin by offering corporations their products. They all began small, by earning the trust and respect of a small group of people, who then raved to another small group of people. Thus, empires are built.
If you are already the leader of a large corporation, there’s still hope! Small businesses have an advantage in that they are still closely connected with their customers. Consider your favorite coffee shop – do the employees know your name, your favorite drink, your family? Do they begin making your drink when you walk in the door and always deliver it with a smile? These are the kinds of everyday behaviors that businesses of all sizes need to adopt if they hope to thrive in today’s world.
What are you doing on a consistent basis to ensure that each and every team member makes an effort to connect with customers in a positive manner? How are you using social media, newsletters, and your website to actually engage WITH your market and not just talk to them? These are the kinds of things that all your “market research” funds need to be going to!