Connecting Businesses and Consumers

This post comes as a follow-up to a blog written by Michele Todd a few weeks back. In it she talked about the emotional connection that consumers have with the brands they choose. For example, clothing, as a product, becomes an extension of my personality; an image that I choose to portray as my own personal brand to the outside world. There are, however, those consumers who buy based on convenience, or for reasons that are less desirable for brand marketers. You can control this type of consumer through price, demand, or other low-level involvement methods, but these consumers do not stick around to support your brand for the long run. Groupon has shown us that people will take advantage of a bargain, though I feel that this system caters to the wrong type of consumer for your brand or business. These are the low-level involvement individuals who, for the most part, won’t be loyal to you in the long term. It does not make sense to go after these consumers, but rather the ones with whom you can really connect. Brand loyalty has always been a sought after achievement in marketing due to its high level of involvement from the consumer. If you can spark an emotional interest in a brand then you’ve acquired a powerful customer relationship, and one that can transcend across social communities. The most powerful form of endorsement is through somebody within a consumer’s own social circle.

It’s been a journey for me over the past several years working in the field of social media and seeking to understand the concept of social dynamics and the changing world of marketing. What I found is that there has been a huge shift in the balance of consumer-business relationships to the point where transparency and sharing have become the norm in marketing. Word-of-mouth marketing has evolved from interactions between small groups of people, to 140 characters or less broadcasted across many social channels and embedded forever.

One of the first methods I implemented in navigating this phenomenon was to create relationships with reciprocating value in the form of event hosting. I had an implied “service”, which was my ability to show people a good time, build a social scene around music and networking, and ultimately provide higher value in the form of exclusivity. The people, my customers and friends, were my marketing force. I was dependent upon them to have faith in my services and to talk about my events, and they were dependent on me to take care of them and facilitate the networking process. By exercising the 20/80 rule we find that 20% of the people drive 80% of the business. Branchout.com had a quote on its site stating that 80% of jobs were placed by friends. Would you care to guess that those opportunities come from the 20% of people with whom you work with the most, trust the most and have the most history?

These are not always the people from whom we want to make money. It’s the other 80% that come to your business who provide the most profitability for your business model. Your core group of advocates should be taken care of, and now, through social media, a business has that opportunity. There has been much talk about how brands can personalize themselves. Most marketers are used to one-way communications with their audience and are missing the connection with their core customer base. Brands must learn to properly use social media by knowing their value and giving their customers something that they desire while also providing the opportunity for them to get involved. We must reward and provide exclusive benefits to our biggest advocates because this small force can drive 80% of the word-of-mouth and referrals on our brand. Brandbuddee.com is one such social media advertising site launching soon that facilitates this relationship on several levels. I’ll get into more details the closer we get to the public launch. The platform will be available to brands within the next several months.

The Brandbuddee is a lifestyle and it is a shift in the relationship you have with your favorites businesses. Brandbuddee.com allows your relationship with these brands to qualify you for numerous benefits, exclusive privileges, and much more. People like deals. What if you could choose what these deals were and get them without any cost to you? To get all this, you wouldn’t have to do anything different than what you do with social media on a daily basis.

Use social media to engage with the right audience, through the right channel, and using the right message. It doesn’t matter if you have a deal, are posting to X amount of people, or even have a presence on the platforms themselves. A good message spread through the right people has the ability to tip. Social media still relies on the principles of marketing, though it is a little more counter-intuitive than those conditioned to traditional methods may think. The next time you’re doing a product launch or looking to do a brand awareness campaign, you should consider what Litehouse and my team can do for you. Through my partnership with them, we can give you that extra edge for connecting your business with consumers.

-Andy Karuza

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