Online marketing and social media tips for business from Shannon Belew, best-selling author of "Starting an Online Business For Dummies, All-in-One"
Brand Love is essentially a chain reaction that has customers raving and that leaves online businesses with an unexpected boost in sales. But the events that trigger the initial reaction are the ones that matter most – and that all starts with your brand.
Consider that any time customers get so excited about your brand that it moves them to take (a positive) action, that’s a good thing. Ideally, that customer “action” involves talking about your brand to others – such as sharing it on social media or publicly endorsing it. When there is high-intensity sharing over a compressed period of time, the result often ends with that unexpected bump in sales. Obviously, high profile customers can create a bigger spike in unexpected sales because their potential reach, or audience, is greater.
As for the trigger event? It can be simple. Or, it can be made up of a series of small, seemingly unimportant actions that eventually come to a head, so to speak. A trigger can also be a single, significant event. That’s the thing about building brand love. It’s something you should always work to achieve, but you don’t really control the outcome – or rather that moment of impact when customer sharing finally collides with sales. It is unpredictable…but you can influence it.
So, how do you build customer enthusiasm and start that critical chain reaction?
Here are four ways to influence brand love and convert it to unexpected sales:
1 – Be a good brand: It sounds simple, but sometimes that’s all it takes – being consistent at being good. Delivering a product or service that always exceeds expectations eventually pays off. Or, maybe you have a rock-star customer service philosophy that result in faithful, enthusiastic customers. Think about this in terms of Zappos or Amazon – brands that do a phenomenal job at the basics (customer service and speed of product delivery).
2 – Love your customers: Sometimes building brand love means starting out by loving your customers, first. It’s as simple as finding unique (or simple) ways to thank them for their business; interact with them on social media by having real conversations with them; or just spotlighting them – not only by profiling them, but championing them. American Express and its salute to small businesses is a great example of how to champion your customer. Not only does the “Small Business Saturday” campaign help AmEx customers build strong businesses of their own, but the credit card company uses the campaign as an opportunity to highlight their small business customers. In return, customers and non-customers alike have taken to social media to promote this AmEx campaign that supports small businesses, both online and off.
3 – Be exciting: Admittedly, this is a tough one. If you’re not Apple, it’s difficult to consistently build the level of global anticipation for your next product release that Apple has seemingly mastered. Or, if you don’t sell a super interesting product (say, life insurance), then it’s hard to imagine you can be exciting. But being exciting simply means to have fun, to interact, and to talk and do things that generate that “feel-good” spirit. Consider that before Nike introduced it’s “Just Do It” campaign, it could be argued that there wasn’t much exciting about tennis shoes. However, Nike made it fun and powerful to work out, to move, to be active. It became exciting to be a customer of that brand. Note: It’s easy to use larger brands, like Nike, as examples of how to be exciting or remarkable, because most of us recognize them; but, I want to be clear that the smallest of company or brand can also be exciting! In fact, sometimes it’s the success stories of larger companies that challenge or inspire the rest of us to do something fun, unique and perhaps outside our comfort zone.
4 – Do the unexpected: Even a, a’hem, “boring” brand can be exciting, simply by doing the unexpected. The unexpected can be something as low key as rewarding a customer for talking positively about your product, or holding a contest with an unusual prize or unique entry requirement that generates enthusiasm. Supposedly, Venezuelan politician, Hugo Chavez recently surprised his Twitter follower – who was lucky number three million – with a very unexpected “thank you” – a house. If this is true, that’s probably one of the most extreme examples of a brand as boring as politician shaking things up with the unexpected.
There are plenty of other more reasonable ways for your brand to do the unexpected and ignite that special “brand love” with your customers…but the point is simple. You can’t always control that magical point where a customer loves your brand so much that she is willing to shout about it from the highest rooftop. But, you can choose to do things everyday that help shape how your customers feel about your brand…and it just might start a chain reaction that ends up with a nice influx of unexpected sales for you and many more very happy customers.
Have you experienced Brand Love? Whether you gave it, received it, or witnessed it…leave a comment and share your story.
Shannon Belew is an online marketing strategist & author of the best selling book, “Starting an Online Business For Dummies All-in-One” and founder of OnlineMarketingToGo.com