Creating authentic, sustainable brands is hard work and a strong investment in time and effort from any brand owner. The brand will not move on its own, and the products will not reach the customer with the newspaper in the morning on a cycle (most of us don’t even have print subscriptions now!). Branding and marketing concepts have not changed drastically over time, but the approaches and platforms have evolved significantly as consumer behavior has changed. Here are some ideas on how to build a strong customer oriented brand in today’s digital world.
- Define who you want to reach
Many brands and startups tend to get onto all platforms and digital channels – not necessarily strategically, but because the competitors and all others seem to be doing it. Every brand, including yours, needs to come up with a strategic approach towards offline/online marketing channels and platforms and the first step towards that is to have a strong goal- who are you selling your products to?
- Be where the customers are and listen to them
I spoke with social media expert, and the Head of Marketing at Unified Inbox, Ken Herron about this topic. He shared very useful insights on this aspect, which I am going to share here:
“Brands need a lightening rod. Customers talk about us — good and bad — non-stop online. The problem? We don’t always “hear” them if we have not placed a lightening rod, a branded account, on the social networks on which they are talking about us. Creating a branded account gives customers a focus point, a lightening rod, where they can freely rant and rave about our brand. I often hear the excuse that “we can’t be on all of the different social networks.” The good news is that you don’t have to, you only have to be on the social networks your customers are on. As different demographics heavily favorite different networks and platforms — Millennials? Snapchat. College Students? Instagram. Women? Pinterest. B2B? LinkedIn. Seniors? Facebook — you can identify the networks you need to be on by who your customers are. If you don’t happen to know which social networks your customers are spending their time on most, ask them! The bottom line is that you can’t acknowledge and amplify customers who are raving about your brand, unless you can hear them!”
The key message is: choose your platform according to your target audience and then listen, engage in meaningful conversations with your consumers.
- Optimize your brand communication based on the platform you choose
It’s important to note that consumers use different platforms for different purposes. This means, they are on Pinterest looking at great visual content, and going a level deeper, longer visual posts do better on Pinterest. Pinterest posts do far better on a Saturday afternoon. Using a platform not only means being present there, it means learning the workings of the channel and understanding consumer behavior before you throw up your hands and claim it’s not working for you.
- Create great content for your consumers
Consumers are tired of watching ads, and flip through or skip them, at every opportunity. But on the other hand, we are consuming social media and organic content like never before. This means that while a traditional channel may not be as effective as it used to be, digital channels provide an opportunity. For being able to stand out as a brand, providing entertaining, useful and informative content around you brand topic/themes will position you as a thought leader in your industry. Not only will the consumers show interest, they are also more likely to share, like and interact with your content- and your brand. It is important to create original content and not copy/ plagiarize it. The more unique, helpful and informative your brands, the more likely it is that they’ll gain consumer trust and support.
While all these steps do require you to invest time and effort, the good news is that they DO work. The bigger news is this: you don’t stand a chance if you don’t show up and care about your consumers interests online. So, it’s time to start, and now.
Upasna Kakroo (@upasnakakroo) is the co-founder of a content marketing and branding startup, brandanew.co. Her previous experiences include- Rocket Internet, the Holtzbrinck Group, McKinsey & Co. She’s devoured urban culture through trains, art, books and travel on her blogs since 2003.