Modern brand management is about managing the relationship between your organisation and the individual you are targeting.

You could be fooled to think that managing that relationship is getting easier, with all the tools and data we can gather about our audiences. But building relationships has and will become more difficult.

Here are some of the key things that I believe play a part in this;

  • Because we have the tools and infrastructure to do so, we are expected to build more and better relationships i.e. CRM, marketing automation, analytics etc. These tools should make our lives easier but the reality is that marketers are finding it difficult to embrace them. Often these tools are mistakenly owned and managed by IT and as a result, the rate of adoption for marketers is low and tried and tested methods are reverted to. This problem won’t go away, it’s one of those problems that gets worse, every day.
  • The way people find and judge your organisation is incredibly different now. Of course, reputations are powerful and advice from colleagues, friends and family is useful but all people need to do is type your organisation into Google and they’ll have everything they need. They will see what people have to say about your organisation on Twitter and Facebook, warts and all. People often make their decision about your organisation before you even know it. And if you’re not found or don’t live up to expectations, there is always another option available.
  • People are building relationships with your organisation whether you know it or not. When people are searching for you online (because they are), you need to make sure you are a) there, b) putting the right messages out.
  • Perhaps, more importantly, is that your audience is now becoming more savvy about developing brand relationships than you are. If your audience is using new methods, techniques and tools to develop relationships with other brands and not yours, you won’t be considered.
  • Marketing and communications professionals rely heavily on what colleagues are putting out on their behalf. And why not, they put out a lot of good stuff. But that’s what it is, just good stuff. I call this noise. In order to really develop meaningful brand relationships, you need to build empathy and illustrate that you understand audience problems. This is achieved by putting out exceptional stuff.
The point I am making is that people now, more than ever, have the ability to find, judge and act on whether they think your organisation is a worthwhile investment that can help them achieve their goals.

As I mentioned before, organisations have become efficient at putting out stuff that tries to develop brand relationships by demonstrating logical and emotional benefits about your organisation. But the unfortunate irony is that it’s often too generic and rarely empathises with genuine audience problems or choices. Think about core values or value propositions of competing organisations, generally, there is very little differentiation.

It’s difficult to develop relationships without being empathetic to people’s problems because they won’t find an area of affinity or common ground.

One of our clients who is leveraging technology to develop relationships is using their video blogging as a powerful content marketing tool.

Content marketing is a technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

The reason this approach is working so well for this particular client is that it helps them manage brand relationships en masse. It allows them develop a relationship with their audience that;

  • advises without being transactional – helping their audience solve their problems or make complex decisions, free of charge.
  • demonstrates expertise and thought leadership in a very specific area – specific focus delivers improved engagement and better quality customers.
  • builds trust and encourages social proof – allows your audience to develop trust that only used to exist through human interaction.
  • meets customers on a medium they are comfortable with – people are researching and making decisions online.

As a result, this approach is delivering other benefits.

  • The rate and type of content their audience consumes suggest the what to create next.
  • They are building their own captive audience, becoming the media.
  • They are increasing market share by focusing on problems much earlier in the buyer journey.
  • They are creating better-informed customers who recognise the value and invest their time and money.

 

It’s difficult to develop relationships without being empathetic to people’s problems because they won’t find an area of affinity or common ground.— Duncan Dibble

A sound approach to content marketing will give you a platform to really refine your voice, position and opinion, but it also allows you to develop brand relationships with individuals en masse, which has previously been very difficult.

Key Takeaways:

  • The way people build brand relationships has changed, it’s two-way and more personalised than ever.
  • Building relationships incorporate many channels and tactics, the methodology hasn’t changed, but the tools and messages are very different now.
  • Developing relationships online still require a strategy and a plan.