When I bought my first adult car, I immediately removed the dealership license plate frame and decal from the tinted rear window. I thought they were tacky and I didn’t want to be doing their marketing for them. Jump forward ten years and that back window has seen stickers for Apple, Famous Stars and Straps, PawTree, Boise State University, and the occasional snarky political statement. Some have been removed successfully as I aged out of that phase of life (Apple is just not the statement it once was to me) and some have stubbornly left residue marks (I am not ashamed of my Boise State degree but the sticker was falling apart) and some have stayed since they were placed there.
The one sticker that has stayed the same since it was put there in 2010 is my Dutch Bros sticker. It is one of the early versions that originally had some red lips above the words “DUTCH BROS” but when I was about 29 I realized those lips were a little too “Desperately searching eHarmony” and less “Married working professional” so I scraped the lips off; the company name, however, stayed.
I love Dutch Bros; if it were a person, I would marry it. And you can find thousands of posts saying the same. But WHY are they so lovable? Why do people like me feel the need to put a ring on it; or rather slap a sticker on our vehicles and announce our loyalty to the public?
Consumers develop lifetime relationships with their favorite brands for a combination of three reasons: great hires, engaging marketing, and consistently good product. So how can you duplicate this for your own brand and propose to your clients? Since you asked…
FIND THE ONE(S)
You cannot build a loveable brand (or marriage) on unlovable people. From your developers to your customer service representatives all the way to your leaders, getting the right people in the right spots is key.
“... Start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” - Jim Collins
Consumers will not love your brand if your employees don’t love your brand. Find passionate people. Find people who genuinely light up when they discuss your mission and values. When interviewing, be sure to ask questions that will identify how the candidate aligns with your company. If your company values dedication to excellence, ask the candidate about a time they delivered a product or service they were unhappy with. If they say they never have, they are lying. You want to see honesty and a desire to improve - you want to see your values come alive in their answers.
If you are not hiring the right people, the next two tips will not matter. Make sure you have great employees before you read on. (P.S. Struggling with hiring? Trusty Oak can help.)
CONTINUOUSLY COURT THEM
Those great people that you hired are going to need an audience to talk to. Let them.
“All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.” - The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Consumers buy from people, not a faceless company, so be human. Your marketing plan should assess the people who buy and get your brand and people in front of them on their terms. It is no longer enough to just put up a billboard and hope for the best. Billboards don’t have hearts but your team does. When sending out email newsletters, be sure to include some fun news about the office or your staff. Social media posts that allow your audience to peak behind the curtain can be some of the most engaging posts. Meet your audience in their space. Go to events, sponsor fundraisers, show them you care - BECAUSE YOU DO.
Again, if you don’t have the right hires or an engaging marketing plan, this next tip will fall flat. (Oh, by the way - check out Trusty Oak’s marketing experts if you need help engaging your audience.)
DON’T GET LAZY
Awesome, you have a fantastic team and your marketing plan is flawless - but does your service or product blend in with the other millions of the same?
“A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one.” - Henry Ford
This one is a little more difficult for some business owners to articulate. After all, there are only so many ways you can offer accounting services or a website build. So set your brand apart with the quality. It is easy to start to get lazy when your company hits its groove and your client base is pretty set. And that is exactly when marriages go sour and brands get forgotten. Do internal quality checks of your services and products, survey your clients, and shop your competition. Make this a part of your yearly company assessment (if not more often) to ensure that if a course correction is necessary, you can get ahead of it.