BY ISABEL GUTIERREZ
How many hours per month do you dedicate to networking? Do you enjoy it? Wouldn’t it be nice if your ideal customers engage with you? Find you? How much time and energy would you save?
Meeting other businesses is, in my opinion, a crucial part to succeed. However, when networking is purely driven by the pressure of having to hunt for new business, it can be an extremely frustrating and tiring experience. By contrary, when networking focuses on collaboration, support and increasing brand awareness, it can bring countless opportunities for growth.
So, how do you flip the coin and attract customers on a continuous basis? How do you become their only logical choice?
By ticking the three boxes below:
☑️ Establishing a recognisable brand
Having a logo, a visual identity, a website or a social media presence doesn’t mean you actually have a brand. You may have acquired all the components to build your house but you have forgotten to lay the foundations.
I love the way Denise Lee Yohn explains this in her book, What Great Brands Do:
In other words, a brand is the DNA of a business. It gives it its unique cells, with its unique peculiarities and personality traits. Hence the expression: “people buy people.”
When people are evaluating other people, a product or a service, they use emotions rather than information to form their opinion. This is why the entire experience of your business will determine how people feel about your company, how they perceive it and as a result, how they evaluate and categorise it.
To establish your brand, you must have crystal clear clarity on:
Who you are as a business.
What core values hold your foundations and drive your actions.
Why you love doing what you do and what your true purpose behind it is.
And finally, what your business looks like in a few years time.
When this is all firmly established, you can then start articulating its essence across everything you do, including your marketing activity. Your brand becomes the main driver of your business, informing your decisions and actions.
☑️ Understanding the emotions of your customers
Knowing your customers and actually understanding them are two different matters. To create a strong connection between your business and your customers, you must have an in-depth understanding of their emotional needs.
Brand connection, just like human connection, is more psychological than logical, and more unconscious than conscious. Like you, your customers are influenced by their own belief system, and these beliefs (quite often unconscious) determine how they perceive your business and what’s more, if they relate to it.
In order to get under the skin of your ideal customers so that they resonate with you, you must remove all focus from yourself and direct it to them. Study their attitude, needs, problems, values, feelings, goals, day-to-day experiences, thoughts, actions, challenges, motivations, frustrations, fears, etc... Essentially, see the world through their eyes.
Once you are aware of their feelings, you are able to sympathy with them. And this is very powerful, because it enables you to engage with them at a subconscious level, creating an emotional bond. You’re no longer a business providing them with a solution or offering them a new product. You know their pain and you are the one who can help them overcome it. At the same time, they are not longer choosing your business because of what you do or know but because emotionally they trust you. They BELIEVE IN you.
Do bear in mind, your brand won’t be for everyone. But this is good. It means you will attract those customers who share your values, making you stronger and more authentic to them as a brand.
☑️ Create a strong and distinctive brand message
Be very, very niche. The more you narrow your services and create a package which will erase your customer’s biggest pain, the more attention your business will gain.
My coach shared with me this story the other day. There was a barber shop that had been going on for generations and had always experienced great success. One day, a new, cheaper salon opened in their vicinity, offering £6 haircuts and as a result, they lost a lot of their clientele. They knew they could not lower their prices because by doing so, they wouldn’t be able to cover their overheads. So they generated a strong and distinctive brand message which said: We fix £6 haircuts. Within a month, not only they had their customers back but also they increased their profit by 15%.
A strong brand message is not about what we do, or claiming to be better, faster or more knowledgable. It is about talking directly to our customers and telling them how our business can take away the draining migraine they have been carrying with them for a certain period of time.
And this is what I offer to my clients. Creating a strong brand message which underpins their story, generates effective marketing content by connecting emotionally with their target audience, leads to meaningful conversations and ultimately, turns customers into advocate fans.
When you have a distinctive brand message, your customers will clearly see your company as the go-to brand and your marketing activity will produce tangible results.