The key to success is a conundrum to which the answer would be the Holy Grail to all businesses. Whilst there may not be a magic formula with a guaranteed success rate just yet, there certainly are steps to get you closer. Lowering your corporate stance to make your brand likeable is an important barrier to break through in order for customers to build an emotional connection with your brand.
Chatting may have got you into trouble in the classroom, but now it seems to be a key tool in businesses building relationships with customers. The Social Brands 100 list ran by social brand agency Headstream ranks business by their social presence and online engagement, and the number one spot was awarded to Innocent Drinks in 2012.
Innocent started in 1999 by selling smoothies at festivals and were fantastic at customer engagement even then, as they asked drinkers to dispose of their bottles in one of two bins individually labelled "yes, you should make this a full time business" and "no, you shouldn't". From the overflowing "yes, you should" bin, Innocent have continued to surpass themselves on their social engagement skills.
This includes incorporating friendly conversational phrases on their packaging, such as the cheeky "stop looking at my bottom" on the underside of the carton. There is a dedicated page on the Innocent web page that hosts a collection of the company's favourite packaging designs to date, including a funny poke at what it would be like to really have a tree grow inside of you, should you swallow the pips from fruit.
This approach has been well reflected by Innocent's customers, as the brand has accumulated almost 135,000 followers on Twitter. Using this friendly approach allows the company to put a smile on their customers face by positively impacting on their day, therefore creating a positive emotional bond with the brand.
Make yourself known
Connecting with customers is vital in a competitive market - after all, who is going to give their valuable business to someone that they don't know?
Not all businesses are as lucky as Innocent Drinks to have an endless supply of quirky charm at their disposal, so using targeted contact campaigns to generate leads is one approach to consider when forging relationships with customers. Whilst lead generation may not sound as exciting as cheeky carton slogans, it is an important step in developing contacts and new business opportunities. Lead generation can be undertaken in-house or outsourced to a specialist, depending on the size of your company and what results you wish to achieve.
Outsourcing your lead generation could be ideal for companies who want to build upon their customer's engagement with their brand, but do not have the resources to dedicate to it themselves. Specialists in lead generation will work alongside your company to establish what tone you wish to strike with potential customers, and what approach will work best to build brand engagement which can then in turn be converted in genuine leads.
The key is to contact a customer and to initially introduce your brand, from where you can build a rapport.
This time it's personal
The use of social media is becoming more and more prevalent in modern day business as an easily accessible method of building customer-brand relationships. The proof is in the pudding - Innocent Drinks' Twitter following is a stellar example. If you are putting across a message to your fans that isn't just about you but what also interests them, it will create a bond akin to friendship with the brand.
The Social Media Examiners says that there are several tips to make your brand stand out in the social market. For example, replying to customers who take the time to write to you and signing off with the name of the person tweeting on behalf of the company makes the brand more human, relatable and likeable. Companies who have taken this on board include Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Virgin Trains, who both interact well with their customers on their social networks to build a strong customer-brand relationship.
Incorporating natural humour into your tweets can also help your profile stand out and help your customer connect with the brand, as a laugh always help to break up the constant stream of information in a Twitter feed.
By incorporating a mix of professional and relatable business approaches and customer-friendly interaction, you can successfully begin to build a brand that people can not only connect with as a consumer, but also create an emotional affinity with.
Amy Fry writes for a diverse range of topics and industries including education, business and lead generation. For more information about lead generation visit http://www.marketmakers.co.uk/.