Jan 22, 2015

Conversations Spark Brand Engagement

It’s easy to ignore companies that don’t engage with you, but it’s hard to ignore a conversation.

Conversations are the secret weapon of Sticky Brands, because a conversation is a two-way dialogue to share ideas and opinions. And that spark of engagement can shatter the trap of indifference that so many companies fall into.

The conversation pushes the brand from just being another company that talks at its customers, to a brand that’s engaged in its community and the people within it.

Not All Conversations Are Equal

Conversations build relationships, demonstrate your firm’s expertise, and generate top-of-mind awareness. They are a powerful method of pulling your brand out of the indifference trap.

But not all conversations are equal — as I discuss in my book Sticky Branding.

For a conversation to support and grow your brand, it has to be linked to a Brand Storyline. Muldoon’s Coffee, for example, engages its market with a Brand Storyline, “Why go out for coffee?”

Shaun Muldoon, CEO of Muldoon’s, says, “An average employee spends over 125 hours a year going out for coffee. That’s six percent of the employee’s salary, or three weeks of vacation.”

Muldoon’s has shifted a key benefit of their service, taste, into a Brand Storyline. And by stating, “Six percent of your payroll is walking out the door for coffee,” engages their market in a conversation.

It’s a surprising statistic, and it catches business owners and CFOs’ attention right away. It gets them to say, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”

Three elements of a Brand Storyline

Brand Storylines are unique because they are not just conversations about the weather or sports, and they are not one sided pitches promoting your brand. They are conversations crafted to engage your marketplace and keep your brand top of mind.

Brand Storylines are effective marketing tools, because they are crafted to connect conversations to your brand.

A Brand Storyline has three fundamental elements:

  1. Expertise: It’s a topic you and your team know well, and draws from your company’s core expertise.
  2. Strong Opinions: It’s a topic your company is passionate about. You can take a stance and boldly share your opinions.
  3. Point of Sharing: The topic resonates with your target market, and encourages others to participate in the conversation.

The three elements function as a three-legged stool. If any one of them is missing, the Brand Storyline is unsustainable.

For example, Strong Opinions without Expertise is a rant. Expertise without Strong Opinions is boring. And without a Point of Sharing you’re talking to yourself.

Wrap your content in Brand Storylines

What conversations can your company spark in its marketplace?

Look for two to three topics where your company has Expertise, Strong Opinions, and a Point of Sharing, and craft them into a Brand Storyline.

Once you have packaged the storyline, push it through your social media channels to see which topics resonate with your customers and which ones fizzle and die off. The ones that resonate are the storylines to hold onto.

When you have one to three effective Brand Storylines, you will have an opportunity to engage your marketplace in conversation. You will push through the indifference trap, and have a reason to engage with your customers in a meaningful way.

What storylines will you lead with?

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