“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?
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.
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?
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.
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.