If you’ve tapped into the JOBS Act for funding, you can now look to your investors as a group of people aligned with the success of your business. Capitalizing on this community can create a groundswell of customer attention and traction, especially if you amplify it through traditional and digital marketing programs. You can also strengthen your brand through the might and reach of your investors. Having committed brand advocates can significantly intensify the effectiveness of getting the word out about your company.
Marketing done right is the science and art of creating both an intellectual consideration — people understanding what you’re selling and its value — and an emotional connection that moves your audience to act. The beauty of this is that you can develop a sustained marketing program that builds a loyal following based on a powerful brand and this combination of mind and heart. Creating the entire branded experience takes time, but pays off with loyalty.
1 BUILD YOUR BRAND FIRST AS AN EXPERIENCE
Marketing starts with a strong brand based on deep beliefs. A strong brand has a clearly defined values system that guides all of its actions and expressions. A brand, just so you know, is the culmination of how any one person — either inside or outside your company — experiences your company. You can’t effectively market without a strong brand.
Too many brands get stuck in the product mindset: a clothing company always selling clothes, a software company always in the world of software. A product- or service-defined brand is inherently limiting. Spy Optic, in contrast, is a top sunglass company, but what it really sells is emotion — specifically, “happiness.”
When thinking of your product or service, ask two questions:
1) “What problem are we solving for our customers?”
2) “What emotion does that equate to in their lives?”
Build a brand that’s worthy of the great product or service you created, and that lives up to the expectations you set through your crowdfunding campaign. If they funded you, they believe in you. Now it’s time to deliver on the promise you made to them. Putting the crowdfunding promise into action through your brand experience will get your crowdfunding group moving to support you, telling their circle of friends, and singing the praises of your business.
2 FIGURE OUT HOW TO REACH YOUR TRIBE
Now that you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to build your marketing plan — the map upon which you chart your external communication direction — and deploy it. Build it so that you, your team, and your investors know where you’re headed and how you can measure your market success — and, of course, how this links to sales.
A solid marketing plan should look ahead at least 12 months. Figure out where your intended audience lives, what they read, what media they consume, and how they can and will find out about you. This will define your media mix. Your media mix can include owned, earned, and paid media. Each has its own benefits and resource requirements. Consider how you’ll leverage and communicate through each channel. Communication should build on everything you’ve done on the crowdsourcing and branding side and put those beliefs into actionable steps that your audience can connect with and respond to.
All audiences want to be connected to brands that they believe in, which is why it’s essential to know what you believe in and that you live up to your brand promise. The brand promise is the value that you deliver to your tribe.
3 COMMIT TO DELIGHTING YOUR TRIBE
To get your fans raving, give them something to rave about. This requires delight, or at the very least the unexpected. More important than simply acquiring a conversion or customer is the creation of a relationship. A relationship requires relating to and with your customers, not just selling them something. It requires that you connect with their needs and wants, and through your product or service add value to their lives. This goes beyond simply trying to satisfy them. Here’s how to deliver delight:
•Exceed their expectations. An exceptional service or offer, a gift, a discount, or an exceptional product at a fair price can play a role in your offering. Consider your relationship with your audience to be an act of continual generosity. For those who took part in your crowdfunding, an unexpected expression of gratitude, even as simple as a hand-written note, says that you appreciate them and their support. Go above and beyond with your crowdfunder family.
•Constantly connect. True connection is constant and ongoing — socially, virtually, and in person. A two-way communication can lead to open dialogue and deeper customer relationships.
•Listen to what they have to say. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn from your customers about your brand and product or service if you actively listen. It takes fierce vulnerability on the part of your brand, but it will drastically improve your offering and will create customer delight.
As business owners, we should be constantly thinking about how to improve our businesses, and this includes how to improve the lives of our customers. Following the above steps is a great start. Once you get traction in building and growing a loyal and loving fan base, keep looking for ways to improve in all that you do. And by all means, keep listening to your customers and leaning in to those who also benefit from your success. Both will keep you constantly learning and improving your impact on the world around you.
Steven Morris is president of Mth Degree Inc. (themthdegree.com). Over the past 20 years Steve has led Mth Degree, a brand strategy and marketing agency that specializes in building purpose-centric brands that create authentic connections to audiences, amplifying value to business and the world and motivating people to live more inspired lives.
Steve has been a speaker at various national and international events, has written for numerous business and industry publications, and is the author of the upcoming book “The Conscious Brand.”