Your social and professional network is one of your most valuable assets and your ability to leverage those networks is a crucial skill to developing your brand. It would be foolish to believe that social media is taking over as our primary means of connection and this article aims to explain how “facing” your customers is the key to separating yourself from the rest, expanding your reach and encouraging brand loyalty and increased revenue.
Harnessing the Power of Social Tribes
Humans are tribal animals. We seek comfort, validation and security in groups with people who are similar to how we see ourselves. This may be people who dress like us, enjoy the same activities, sense of humour and share similar belief systems. In business, our tribes are made up of people who are in the same profession, have similar achievements, and so on. These tribes provide emotional bonds and loyalty to causes that are hard to break.
As each customer belongs to many tribes, we as self employed individuals have the potential to access other individuals in those groups that are just like them. Gaining access to these people is critical to marketing success and acquiring new customers with some of the lowest costs of acquisition.
The most powerful form of marketing is consumer to consumer, or C2C. Despite the overwhelming influence of social media, people still thrive around other people and events that bring people together are powerful. Not just for delivering messages, product demos and introducing new products but for building validation, loyalty and passion for a brand. To leave a brand means to leave your support systems, friends and social network and risk being embarrassed by those who recruited you.
When we hosted our recent Sundowner event with the Stirling Business Association (SBA), we were lucky to have access to a tribe of other self employed individuals who are similarly motivated to succeed and build their own networks. Through our membership with the SBA, that almost anyone with an ABN can buy into, we were able to harness that well established network and share our story with qualified prospects.
“Face” your customers
There are limitless ways to communicate at volume online but you can never underestimate the power of face to face contact. It’s the human touch that we haven’t quite replicated online. I personally still like to feel the fabric of the clothes I am about to spend my hard earned cash on, hear the guidance of a well informed and honest shop assistant and experience the vibe of a thoughtfully designed store.
Regardless of how you market your business, all experiences need to be relevant and meaningful to your customers and the role you play in simplifying or enhancing their lives.
Tips to Create Interesting Events
Possibly more relevant than ever in the current Covid climate, customer events can take place both online and offline. Online events can include chat room discussions and webinars but live events are a great way to build better bonds with your networks and prospects. Here are some ways to increase the success of your events:
- Send invites to customers and encourage them to bring friends
- Collect names and contact information for a follow up database
- Mingle your customers and prospect so your customers can become ambassadors at your events
- Keep it entertaining as well as professional and informative
- Choose an appealing location which attracts tourists and offers lots of interesting scenery or activities
For example, our recent event was held in a beautiful location near the ocean in Scarborough just after close of business with a selection of beers, wines and tasting platter. We deliberately excluded any seats so guests were more likely to mingle with each other and move around the room. They were all given name tags so return guests from previous events could forgo any anxiety about remembering names and new members could be easily introduced. The ultimate goal was to create a relaxed yet professional environment where business owners could network and expand their own networks with the added benefit of increased exposure to our brand and services.
Launching Your Own Public Event
Today, its more about creating great customer experiences than clever advertising campaigns and hosting your own event is key to building that relationship on your terms.
So what’s the key to a successful event?
- It’s about your attendees, not you
- It has to be meaningful and valuable to your network
People don’t build relationships with brands, they build them with people within the brand.
Ensure that the team, purpose, activity or benefit gained provides direct value to your customers base. This may not always align with your marketing goals but find ways to intertwine your goals with theirs. A great way to do this is to align yourself with a cause-related campaign.
As the old saying goes…
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”
If you can’t afford to foot the entire bill, team up with other businesses to share the costs. That’s what we did and it was excellent because we could put on a much better event, achieve or goals and minimise the overall expense.
We’re all time poor and pulling of a great event can be stressful and full on. If you can partner with other businesses, this will allow you to share the workload but otherwise, there are plenty of event planning consultants and freelancers who can do this for you at all budgets.
Capture your Experience and Share with Others
As important as getting face to face with your customers is, we need to close the loop by sharing with our digital audience as well. That’s where capturing your events comes in. Having a dedicated content creator to capture the experience will leave you with plenty to share after all of the excitement dies down. That could be as simple as getting a staff member or hiring a professional to shoot a selection of images or video clips for posting at a later date. Just avoid doing it yourself as this will take away from your most important role, connecting with your customers and prospects.
You wouldn’t think to capture your own wedding so why would you do it for your business event? We need to be present in the moment and let someone else worry about the images and video.
The added benefit of capturing your event is giving your customers and prospects something to share with their networks. This will increase exposure for your business as well as connect with the right tribe at minimal cost of acquisition.
For example, from a relatively small investment of having a professional photographer present for an hour at our event, the customers and prospects who were photographed then went on to share our images on their own social media pages, affording us instant access to their tribes.
Leveraging your networks and hosting events is a unique way to separate yourself from your competitors and position your brand on your terms. So many businesses purely operate online, so stand out and face your customers. Have a purpose, make it enjoyable and capture your experience. Your customers will thank you for being different in the digital world we live in today.