A connected brand attracts customers naturally
Small businesses have always been at a disadvantage when it comes to reaching out and communicating with consumers on a broad scale.
Unless you had a mountain of cash to splash (waste?) on advertising in mainstream media—or you had a story the tabloid press was clamoring after—reaching your audience en masse, on a sustained basis, has been notoriously difficult.
By the way, it still is difficult, but it’s eminently more do-able these days to expand your reach at little cost, within reason, compared to 5 or so years ago thanks to the power of social technologies.
Traditionally, ‘reach’ has been about targeting as many people as possible and hitting them with a one-way sales message to generate a quick transactional response. Strike, hit, run—give us your money, thanks for playing. No relationship, just a lot of effort invested in a ‘one night stand’.
This strategy used to work reasonably well too—during a time when people were starved of media choices, and the marketplace wasn’t so cluttered. Not today though.
We’re at war with noise. All we want is clarity. We want to deal with companies that are on our wavelength—that show us respect by not interrupting us and encroaching on our precious time. We want to do business with people whom we know, we like and we trust—businesses that add value to our lives in meaningful ways.
This situation is tailor made for small businesses, the proprietors of which tend to be closer to their customers than senior executives of larger organisations.
As a small business entrepreneur, this is YOUR time, but only if you rethink the traditional way you have gone about things.
Too many businesses focus on the quick sale rather than building relationships with customers, potential customers and the people who influence them. Today, it makes more marketing sense to build a brand that captures the imagination of consumers, that attracts them into your ‘orbit’ rather than you having to go out hunting and do the hard sell all the time (and risk putting people off!).
‘The Connected Brand’
I have developed a concept I call the Connected Brand. It can be applied to an individual, a startup, a fast-growing small company or even a large organisation (although it gets harder the bigger you are because of legacy issues, hierarchical structures and traditional-thinking senior management that’s more likely to be inflexible than open-minded).
A Connected Brand is a company (or individual, like a solopreneur) that takes a longer term, more holistic approach to marketing. This approach is built on pillars of relationships and respect.
Rather than interrupting people with your sales message, the concept is predicated on consumers being attracted to your brand because of who you are and what you stand for. This doesn’t mean you don’t try and close the sale; it means you instigate a call to action once a relationship has been established rather than trying to get to home base on the first meeting.
So, if the traditional way of marketing was to get in the face of people and try and sell them something, the multi-dimensional Connected Brand approach is more along the lines of:
- Connecting with the people who matter the most to the success of your business, (or if you’re a nonprofit, your cause or issue)
- Contributing to their lives in ways that are respectful and meaningful
- Cultivating relationships with those people who are already fans, followers, supporters and allies of your business
- Collaborating with other like-minded brands as a means of reaching new audiences, as well as helping it to stay fresh, relevant and vital.
This can be achieved through content creation (and curation), by kick starting and facilitating conversation with customers and stakeholders, and building a sense of community around your brand by being interesting, empathetic and inclusive.