The age of cold PR is long gone and the businesses that will truly prosper in this new economy are those that know how to connect authentically with their audience. When so much of what’s out there is a commodity and when most businesses compete on price, what’s the one thing that makes your brand memorable?
The Gold Is In Your Story
The likeability factor lies in your founding story told truthfully and wholeheartedly. It’s the vulnerability you’re willing to share with your audience that will make them say “Hey, this guy gets me!”
No matter how hard you try to flood your audience with facts, figures and the benefits of them buying from you, it won’t be until you prove that you hear and understand them that they’ll start to actually pay attention to you and open their wallets, too.
If you balance good brand storytelling with delivering high value, you will build a strong following around your brand. Always aim to prove your readers that you understand their problems and make sure that you have a clear intention for every piece of content you create.
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How do you want people to feel and what action do you want them to take after consuming your content? The more character you infuse into your content, the more your audience will relate to you and your brand. And likeability is a powerful currency in business.
Why Your WHY Matters
Having a strong connection between you brand and your audience provides a strong base for long-term loyalty and sustainable growth in the future. Telling stories about your brand and business is not just about standing above your competition.
It’s about helping people connect with your big WHY and making them care about what you have to offer. It’s about establishing your authenticity and dictating your value.
Having a good story is what turned Starbucks from just another coffee provider to building a whole new category in their niche and putting themselves above the competition.
Authenticity is not something you can fake. People have strong BS radars and expect a lot from the brands they choose to support. And this is mostly true with millennials who’d rather choose a less than perfect product or service if it has a strong enough “Why” and social mission.
Authenticity Is Bigger Than Marketing
The purpose of running your business – communicated clearly and genuinely – is going to be at the core of a deeper connection with your audience.
Think of Gary Vaynerchuck, one of the most authentic entrepreneurs out there, a guy that’s extremely authentic and charismatic. But why is it? It’s because he’s extremely open, acknowledges his mistakes, he shares his processes, pours his personality into everything he does and always communicates his “Why”.
This is the type of entrepreneurs that you just feel how much he loves serving his audience and making his followers feel understood. It’s from this place that an authentic leader can start to build a strong relationship and really make an impact through his or her business.
So What’s Your WHY?
People are more than happy to support a business that proudly stands for something. Think of “Pencils of Promise”, a charity organization that builds schools all across the world. They have a really strong following and are heavily supported because they have a genuine founding story that connected them to their audience.
This is an invitation to start seeing your brand not just part of a bigger picture, but rather the big picture of why you’re in business. The more compelling your story, the easier it will be for you to rise above your competition and make your audience stick with you for the long run.
The biggest brands in the world, Disney to Nike and Apple are so loved because they went beyond being just a product and became an idea that nourished people’s emotional desires.
Your Followers Are Your Friends
Keep this in mind every time you create a new piece of content. Act as if you’re talking to a friend and you’re describing how their life can be improved as a result of using your product or service.
Take them behind the scenes and give them a personal view of what goes on behind the doors. Use your social media profiles to show photos and videos of you and your team at work or just having fun around the office. This will humanize your operations and help people connect with you on a more personal level.
People connect with people, not faceless businesses, so give your brand some personality. If your brand were a person, who would it be? What kind of qualities would they have? If your brand were a celebrity or car, which one would you choose? And why? What are their traits, skills and interests? Think about human-like characteristics to describe your brand. Zappos, for example, is friendly, helpful, fun and sometimes even silly.
Be open about your path, talk about the hard times and people will be more likely to relate to you. Always stay centered on your customer’s interests and aspirations and remember that the stronger the connection you have with your audience the longer you’ll stay in business.
Creating an authentic, deep, lasting connection with your audience is not easy and takes time. This is also good news because going the extra mile is never crowded.
And ultimately, all you need is a plan with some goals and lots of perseverance. This is not rocket science. We’re all humans working with humans and if you keep this simple truth in mind, you’ll be OK. Simple may not always be easy but if you love your customers more than you love your business, you’ll always be in business.
Humanizing your brand, fostering trust and a genuine and lasting connection with your audience is serious work. It may not always seem to pay off in the short term and it’s not easy to measure and scale. But in the long run, it’s the only path to lasting success and meaningful impact.