Does your brand have a personality? Does it have feelings? Does it make people happy? Does it make people emotional? If your brand was a piece of candy, what would it taste like and why? If your brand was a human being, would you take it out for a drink? These are just some thought provoking questions I throw out there. Why? Because very few organizations focus on these questions and get sucked up into the operations and “what” they are doing. This leads to continued dollars spent on marketing that only focus on “impressions” and not “impact”. Don’t get me wrong, impressions are important, but only when you have a brand that people really care about.
So the real challenge for any brand is creating the feelings that give it a personality. The goal by giving your brand a personality is to attract the “right” people to it and to create a human emotional connection through memorable experiences that relate to people giving them a sense of loyalty to your brand. Sounds high in the sky right? 100,000 foot view level methodology that seems great, but never gets implemented. Something to get to next year right? Well, I can tell you it’s evident everywhere that brands that get this principle see an increase in sustainable revenue (i.e. focus on quality and client experience) and those that don’t are fighting to stay alive (i.e. focus on price as sole competitive difference and rely almost 100% of advertising to generate revenue). It’s pretty harsh, but true. Why do you think Coca Cola has sustained a number one position in the cola market while spending less than their competitors? Why do you think Apple is one of the largest companies in the world while selling products just about twice the price of their competitors.
The good news in all of this is that giving your brand a personality is not as hard as you think. The easiest place to start is by implementing a process to create a truly personalized experience that satisfies their human emotional needs.
I started to implement a truly personalized experience at Social HubSite and it increased free trial subscriptions by over 50% within a 30 day period. It has also led to a new stream of referrals to the system from existing clients that never existed before. This all happened by implementing an actual system for personalized support that allowed our clients to feel a closer connection to our staff.
So let’s dive in and find out how to get this done. I’ll use the example of what we did with Social HubSite as a reference.
Step 1: Understand the human emotional connection with your clients
The first action step I took before implementing the personalized support system for Social HubSite was to research and understand what makes humans connect. Throw your brand out the window for a second and really take time to understand what truly makes people connect.
Here are some must read articles that helped me understand the human connection a bit further:
I probably re-read these articles 3 times. The information contained in them is absolute gold when it comes to understanding what makes people feel emotionally connected to brands.
To sum up my key take aways to 4 points:
- People want predictability and consistency – People sure aren’t eating at McDonalds because they serve healthy food. They just know it will taste the same no matter where they go.
- People want others to truly listen to them – Most people hear, but never listen. Be the one that listens.
- People connect better through stories and examples – People want to envision themselves as already having achieved the end result. Multi-level marketing companies are excellent as conveying this message.
- People want to be appreciated - I don’t think I need to explain this one
When you understand these principles, the “how” becomes much easier to identify. You’ll be able to know what kinds of questions to ask your clients/potential clients. You’ll better relate to your end client. These are the building blocks to constructing the ultimate experience for your current/potential clients.
I realized that people coming to Social HubSite wanted to build a website of some kind. After asking several potential customers how they planned on using the system I realized one thing, people had different end goals with their websites. I knew from a technical perspective exactly how they could achieve what they wanted with the system, but they didn’t. Then a light bulb went off in my head. Most of the people searching for a system to help build their websites had no pre-determined way to value the technical part of the solutions since most aren’t developers. They just wanted the end result. The burger at McDonalds. They wanted assurance and a level of predictability that would give them a sense of comfort in building their website.
Understanding this concept and integrating a system to fulfill their human emotional needs, as well as practical needs, was just as important as the product itself. Website building solutions are everywhere. I needed a way to separate Social HubSite from the crowd and not solely through technology.
This brings us to our next step in building a platform to personalize your brand…
Step 2: Implementing a platform for personalization
I knew with Social HubSite, and the many different kinds of websites people wanted to build, that I needed human beings behind the scenes that understood how to take business requirements and direct a client on the right tools to use in order to achieve the desired end result. I also needed to implement a way for the Social HubSite Advisor and client to communicate in a way that would break past the typical barriers of online communication to create a truly personalized experience.
I decided to integrate a system that easily gives our Social HubSite Advisor an easy way to record and post a video message to a client that is specifically assigned to them. New messages from the advisor drive clients back into their dashboard which is where we want them so they continue to grow into the system. To stay organized, each Social HubSite manager has access to their own inbox on the system where they can properly respond to messages from clients. We are now able to guide each client individually toward achieving their goals using the system – whether that’s building a social network for their organization, business website, landing pages, etc. As a result, we are converting 40% more free trials into paid clients. For the clients that don’t upgrade, we at least can identify the reason why. This has only helped to identify product improvements and clear boundaries for the system capabilities.
The point here is that in order to create a truly personalized experience for your brand, you need to devise a platform to handle it. That system doesn’t always have to be online either. It could be as simple as using as using phone calls, in-person meetings or a mixture of everything.
Once you have the platform in placed, developing a consistent process in utilizing the platform is the next critical step…
Step 3: Execute a streamlined process of delivering the personalized experience
The process you develop in executing a personalized experience for your clients is the most critical step in the success or failure of your efforts.
The first thing we did with Social HubSite is document a clear communication strategy and series of protocols for handling client communication using our new internal messaging system. For example, the first personalized message to the client must be sent within 24 hours and cover 3 points (1. Introduction of Advisor and their background 2. Explaining next steps in using the system and 3. Asking the question, what are your goals with the system). We have developed protocols for non-responses and recommendations.
You can simply organize and share your process with your team with something like Google Docs.
Once you have identified your process of delivering the personalized experience to your client, the next step is measuring the results…
Step 4: Understand what you are measuring
First, identify key metrics that are in line with the goals of your organization. For Social HubSite, we simply wanted to convert more free trials into paid clients and assure each client establishes 1 new website on the system. We knew that if they have 1 successful website, the attrition rate is practically zero. So out of this we were measuring for increased cash flow and a longer lifetime value of a client.
Make it part of your process to look at your metrics on a consistent basis. With Social HubSite, we have developed a habit of comparing our metrics every Monday.
Lastly, you are going to need to look at ways to improve your metrics. Let’s discuss the approach you can take on doing that…
Step 5: Gain direct feedback and adjust your process
To improve your metrics (i.e. number of converted clients, customer satisfaction rating, etc.), simply implement ways to ask your customers for feedback. For example, we have built into our process for each Social HubSite Advisor to send a video message the last Wednesday of every month to the clients they oversee simply asking them how we can do better and are we fulfilling our end of the bargain. Don’t worry about what people might say. The simple fact that you are even making an attempt to LISTEN to what they are saying satisfies a human emotion, as we discussed earlier.
To sum up, implementing a systematic way to fulfill human emotions through your brand will develop a sense of trust and loyalty that no impression based marketing (direct mail, email, etc.) will ever be able fulfill on their own.
Take a few moments, gather your team, and get out of the office. Talk through these steps. Ask yourself and your team the questions presented in this post. Your team will start to feel as if they are part of something bigger. Something worthwhile. Something that serves a purpose. Something to be proud of that is part of who they are. That something is your brand.