Do your customers choose your brand first?
This question is the essence of branding. Branding isn’t about logos, or taglines, or colors. Branding is about forming a relationship with your customers — a relationship where they know your brand, they like it and trust it.
This relationship is what makes the brand sticky.
Marketing hype can wear off quickly, but a relationship becomes a bond. It helps to insulate your brand from the competition, because it gives your customers the comfort to know you will serve them well.
You Can Buy Trust, But Why?
You can buy a relationship, but it’s awfully expensive.
McDonald’s, for example, spent $988 million on advertising in 2013. Let me repeat that because it’s a shocking number. McDonald’s spent close to a billion dollars on advertising in one year to make you like them.
That investment accounted for 15.3% of the quick serve advertising spend for that year. McDonald’s spends a disproportionate amount on advertising compared to its competition, because advertising helps the company form a bond with its customers.
Relationships are built up over time and experiences. The more often a customer interacts with your brand — whether through advertising, in person experiences, content, or by using your products — the stronger the relationship can become.
The traditional approach to forming a bond with customers is through mass marketing and advertising, but that’s incredibly expensive. You can achieve a similar result by using widely available tools that are free, if not practically free. There is nothing stopping you from deliberately engaging your customers and building a likable brand.
Build Relationships Early and Often
Most marketing dollars are focused on the 3% — customers that have a need and will make a purchase decision in the next 30, 60, or 90 days. Spending time and money to engage active prospects makes perfect sense, but it’s even more effective to target prospects who already know your brand, like it and trust it.
Establishing relationships with your customers early and often not only builds trust, it accelerates the sales process.
Sticky Brands take the relationship building piece of their marketing very seriously. What separates them from average brands is Sticky Brands begin building relationships upwards of 3 years before a client has a need for their expertise.
Constant Contact is a great example of this approach. Constant Contact is an email marketing platform for small- and mid-sized companies, and they are a company who walks the talk. The company is growing its brand through community building: sharing tools and ideas, sponsoring and hosting events, and working with local businesses.
The idea is to provide excellent resources and build relationships with its target market. And when a prospect has a need they call Constant Contact first, because they already knows the company, like it and trust it.
Your goal should be the same. Build relationships early and often so your customers call you first when they have a need.