In the spirit of Valentine’s Day I wanted to expand on my thoughts about branding using the analogy of romance. The great thing about this post is that it can be helpful for anyone and everyone, because, whether we like it or not, if we want to be considered relevant in this consumer based society, we have to make ourselves into a brand.
Now I must admit I missed out on the online-dating experience. When I was single social media barely existed beyond email. It wasn’t the force of nature it is today. People who resorted to searching for love online were considered desperate. But just as almost all social interactions and all business transactions have shifted to the World Wide Web, utilizing the internet to find that special someone is now considered pragmatic. I know a handful of couples who are happily married after meeting online.
I have said this before and I am destined to say it again, life can be lived-while not necessarily fully-completely online. Branding is important for everyone regardless of one’s life circumstances. The only variable is the reason why you’re creating a brand in the first place. So let’s proceed with my romance analogy.
Your Online Profile:
Creating a dating profile, for it to successfully sell you, has to be well thought out and well crafted. You have to determine which sites best suit who you are and what you are looking for. Then time and energy must be spent on choosing the best words and images to draft a solid composite of how you want to be perceived in the few brief moments someone is going to spend glancing at your profile. When you’re looking for love you want to present you at your finest. You exercise, dress up, behave. You may not be looking for love, but if you are a business looking for new customers, this process is just as important. Careful consideration has to go into how you present yourself in today’s aesthetically conscious and brand-driven society. You have to know who your customers are, or who you want your customers to be. Knowing this will then guide you to connect with the right websites and social media, while using the right design and marketing concepts. You only have a fraction of a moment to appeal to your perfect customer, so you must ensure your brand is solid, eye-catching, and consistent no matter where that person goes to learn more about you. Because let’s face it, we all use the Google. In fact it’s prudent to Google yourself every once in a while. I do it all the time. If you Google me, you find exactly what I want you to find. When you Google yourself, ask Is this how I want to be perceived? Is there anything here that shouldn’t be? Is there anything missing? Using these answers as a tool, do what you can to reformat and refocus your online presence. Because the stronger and more solid it is, the more comfortable a potential suitor (i.e. customer) will feel about approaching you. It must be your siren’s song, forcing the suitor to slow down and come closer for a better look. Let’s face it: suitor and customer can be interchangeable because for a business they are exactly the same thing. While most of us don’t want a harem; those of us who own a business want a bevy of loyal customers. So now that you’ve formulated your online image to entice love, you have got to work on your woo.
First Date/First Impression:
All of us, ever since the day we were born, have been taught “Never underestimate a first impression”. How many of us have met someone, made some snap judgments, and then gotten to know that person, only to realize later that our initial assessment was accurate?
I once read somewhere that one can learn on a first date what will be the end of the relationship. You may scoff at this but it’s true! Think about your relationships. I’ve always been a long-termer; most of my relationships lasted WAY longer than they ever had a reason to. Looking back over every one I have to admit that yes, the reason why it didn’t work out was blazingly obvious on that first date.
In terms of business, the first date is the first interaction (it may or may not be a transaction) a potential customer has with you. Does you woo live up to your marketing? This is the second part of branding. As I’ve said before, image is only going to get them through the door. What are you going to do to get to that first sale? Your woo has to live up to the expectations of the customer. Wooing by my definition is giving a customer a great product and great service at a price that reasonably matches the quality of the item/s and the overall experience they had. Making sure this suitor has a fantastic first impression ups your chances of moving on from a first date to a relationship.
Looks Like We Made It….Well…
Now we all know, over time, we can get a bit lazy in a relationship. It’s easy to assume, if someone has stuck around this long, they’re going to stay. So if you want to keep that customer happy you can’t take them for granted! The relationship needs to be nurtured. Otherwise you may find yourself alone. You don’t want your customer to one day say, “You’ve changed. I don’t know who you are anymore.”
Remember there are plenty of other businesses out there similar to yours who are doing all they can to gain your customer’s attention. There are ample opportunities to replace you and you will certainly start to destabilize your relationship is you believe you’re irreplaceable. If you’ve made your relationship vulnerable through neglect you are creating the risk of finding yourself alone. So remember to offer consistent, personalized service. And don’t forget those tokens of appreciation! Let them know you care.
I hope you will use this month to reevaluate your woo. Figure out how you can strengthen and focus your visual aesthetic and marketing materials. Decide if your online presence complements the image you want to project. Refine your professional methods so you can stand out from the masses. Do all you can to get and give more love in this world.