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Honza Herodek

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Are brands getting overly personal?

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

The adage above holds true now more than ever. If we behave well, care about others and respect those around us we naturally stand a better chance in receiving the same in return, and as a result form quality relationships. However, one specific member of society seems not to get this. Who is this you ask? The answer- brands. The aim of this article is therefore to show that brand relationships are no different from personal relationships but unlucky for us marketers they are indeed as equally difficult to create and maintain.

Getting to know each other

Imagine a party with your friends, everyone is having fun, talking about their lives, sharing their stories, and discussing what matters to them. All of a sudden, a guy who nobody knows starts shouting that he is the best, the most fun to be around, the best lover, the most kind hearted etc etc.. Even worse, he does not seem to stop even when nobody seems to care and he keeps repeating the same things over and over again. What are the chances he’ll be invited to the next party? Low, very low.

Yet, companies are doing exactly the same thing, just in the form of advertising. And they don’t boast only at parties. They are desperately trying to appeal to us everywhere. They do it on the streets, they do it on our computers, on our phones and tablets, and really, wherever it’s possible.

Solution? Listen to the conversations that happens at the party first, and only when you’re certain that your input is relevant, desired, and will be heard say it. This will increase the chance of your audience valuing what you’ve just said and them wanting to hear from you again. The lesson here is to listen to customers first before actually saying anything. This approach is also known as customer research, sound familiar?show off, boast

Talking

Ok, so let’s assume that the first guy has learnt his lesson and so for the next party he goes to he’s figured out that the attendees are interested in environmental issues. So, logically, he starts shouting all over the place that killing whales is bad and that he just loves it when he can clean some rocks from leaked petrol, which all goes towards making the world a better place particularly thanks to his efforts.

Surprise, surprise! Ain’t nobody got time for him, nobody cares. The problem is that nobody bought it. Your typical try-hard. The same occurs with brand perception. Let’s say a company claims via its mission statement that they pride themselves on innovation, yet they actually do nothing innovative -and thus are perceived by the public as untrustworthy and outdated.

The better method is to find a match between the brand’s objective and their current/potential customer’s desires. This may sound difficult -but not impossible since the previously conducted customer research will hopefully reveal what customers want. Therefore you, the brand, can now implement appropriate, realistic and admirable changes. So to keep with the persona theme, you’re ultimately looking to be the trend-setter and not the try-hard.

Bar, alcohol, chat, talking

 

Flirting

Now it’s going to get quite competitive. The trend-setter and try-hard spot an attractive female customer. You probably know already who stands a better chance of going home with her but let’s be unbiased and see how it unravels..

First up is Mr. Try-Hard; “Hey, I see that you love nature, and that you’re a 23 years old female living in London, so I can tell you that if you go on a date with me we can make Earth great again, we’ll save sooo many dolphins and I can then show off how many other girls I was able to attract”. Well, he has some knowledge, he is pretty honest, yet she would probably refuse him even if it means loosing a free dinner -but this does of course depends on her values and her current income statement.

Next up, Mr. Trend-Setter who, after some time talking, and letting his quality and authenticity shine (which also draws an attractive contrast to the previous suitor) he asks her whether she would like to join him on his next trip to Ocean World, which he likes so much because all the animals there get much needed care, without which they would not have survived in the wild- an authentic, informed, amicable, personal and realistic request.

One may argue that the second guy seems to be too perfect, he can’t be authentic, but look at it from the girl’s perspective. Doesn’t every girl want a guy, for whom she will be the centre of the Universe? Doesn’t every customer want a company to be customer-centric?couple

Relationship

Long story short, the customer chose Mr. Trend-Setter and had an amazing time at Ocean World with him. A few more dates followed shortly after. And then during one amazing evening, the girl acquired the guy’s product. The foundations for a relationship has formed. And the relationship was getting stronger and stronger every time they were together. It wasn’t always perfect but they were both committed to keep the other happy and they never breached the other’s trust. So it worked quite nicely for both of them.

However, one day, the girl met her gal-pal, who actually fell for Mr. Try-Hrad as she was really desperate for a free dinner back then. But, as time went by, it was getting harder and harder to escape the relationship with Mr. Try-Hard even when he was not really able to deliver what he promised. The emotional barriers and the switching cost in the form of effort were too high

After a few casual drinks and some girl talk, it quickly became apparent to the unhappy friend that she would really prefer to have the kind of relationship Mr. Trend-Setter was offering. Conversely, the happy girl benefited from the word-of-mouth too as it allowed her to appreciate the unique relationship she has with her boyfriend. Unfortunately for the unhappy one, it is very unlikely that the relationship the happy couple built would benefit from one more member. In the world of brand-relationships, however, a happy customer is more than happy to recommend an authentic, relevant and quality brand to whomever as it is socially acceptable for brands to have poligamic relationships.couple

Epilogue

Please don’t take the author’s humorous tone as uncultivated. If you are a man, just ask any girl which one of the presented guys she would prefer. Chances are she will ask where to get the nice guy from this story even before finishing the article. And then take her response as the customer perspective. If you are a woman, I do not know where the good boys hide away, but I know, that all the guys just try their best to acquire a long-term profitable customer. Finally, if you’re homosexual, congratulations, the rest of us kind of envy you.

Updated Maslow

People increasingly value seemingly irrational things. A product’s price is often outweighed by sustainable and ethical efforts in its manufacturing. When applying for a new job, the salary may come second to the mission of the company you’re applying to.

Although it may seem to be completely against our instincts, it probably happened to every one of us at some point in our lives that we decided to pursue something bigger than ourselves. Take, for example, parents, as their own interests are often far less important to them compared to ensuring the health and well being of their child.


There is no need to introduce A.H. Maslow to the readers of TDLY magazine. Being one of the most eminent psychologists of modern times and the author of the famous ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ pyramid, he is one of the most cited psychologists in introductory psychology textbooks.

However, as researched by Koltko-Rivera in 2006, the version of the hierarchy depicted below is inaccurate according to Maslow’s later description of the theory. In 1969, Maslow himself amended his model from 1943. Yet, his later descriptions never earned the appropriate attention of the academic community and so the complete theory is not commonly taught even nowadays.

traditional maslow

As a reminder, the theory says that a person’s motivation alters based on the stage on the pyramid he or she currently is. The rules are that we go from the bottom to the top and in that given order. According to Maslow’s amendments, however, there is not self-actualisation right at the top of the pyramid as self-transcendence should be placed even higher. Contrary to self-actualisation level which stands for the fulfilment of personal potential, self-transcendence represents a person’s need to further something beyond himself or herself and to experience a communion with something above oneself.
updated maslow hierarchy

This “new” perspective may help to shed some light on altruism, religion, terrorism and social movements in general. In fact, the application ranges across all social studies. In terms of business, for example, it clarifies that a brand’s social responsibility activities may not only positively impact a brand’s image but also fulfil the CEO’s self-transcendence needs. Moreover, it may fulfil customers’ self-transcendence needs as by purchasing a particular brand, they also support some cause (e.g. charitable). For instance, Steve Job’s passion for technology or Elon Musk’s devotion to environmentalism, enabled them to authentically build the brands of Apple and Tesla on these foundations which consequently transcended to both consumers and the employees of the companies by fulfilling their self-transcendence needs.

Using Facebook Effectively

In today’s social media apocalypse it may seem like a no-brainer that companies should incorporate Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 1.35 billion users, into their marketing efforts. But with only 41% of U.S. small businesses using this network some of us still haven’t got the hint. Moreover, 87% of posts to a company’s Facebook Page generally go unanswered while 75% of businesses still spend money on promoting their own Facebook posts. This data alone shows that there must be some misunderstanding on how to use Facebook  effectively, and that’s where TDLY comes in.

First, let’s take a look from the customer’s perspective as to why people engage with brands on Facebook:

reasons to like a facebook page

Conversely, the graph below shows why people unlike/disengage with brands on Facebook:

reasons people unlike brands on facebook

Taking these stats into consideration TDLY offers the following to-do list for brands to use Facebook effectively:tdly facebook guide

Implementing these techniques correctly will be sure to boot your income, cut down customer service costs and strengthen the overall brand-to-customer relationship. Thereby, stimulating customer loyalty and advocacy aka the Holy Grail.