Simon Mainwaring’s transformed himself from a lawyer and ad man to brand evangelist for the 21st century with the publication of WE FIRST: How Brands & Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World (named Strategy + Business best marketing book of 2011).
I attended the We First Social Branding Seminar, tapped into the fiber optics of his brain and just barely made it out alive…. (if you’ve ever heard Simon speak, you’ll know what I mean)…
I’m back with 6 brilliant mindsets that will completely retool how you’re representing your brand online (I know it has mine).
- LEAD WITH YOUR WHY, NOT YOUR WHAT – “Customers want a better world not just better widgets.” When your services are informed by a purpose, it becomes a differentiator and a reason to buy. People buy the why before they buy the what. Simon calls this “Because Marketing” or leading with why you exist and what your stand for, rather than what you’re selling. Anyone in business is competing for mindshare, so the challenge is to be distinct and mean something more than your product. Think about how you can make a meaningful contribution to someone’s life. Studies actually show that social purpose is a higher motivator for purchasing than innovation or brand loyalty. When someone feels your purpose, they become your fan.
- CONNECT TO YOUR AUDIENCE THROUGH STORY AND EMOTIONS – In addition to purpose, your brand needs personality. Now that we have access to social technologies that allow us to tell stories and make deep connections, we have to dig deep to figure out what we’re about. If you don’t establish your brand as emotional, memorable and shareable, you mind as well step aside and let someone else lead because no marketing strategies or tactics will compel your customers to share you with their friends like a heartfelt story. Don’t be clever, be human. Share your core values. Speak without fear of saying the wrong things. You are 100% qualified to be you and people want to see you, to hear your purpose, to connect with you on an emotional level.
- BE THE CHIEF CELEBRANT, NOT THE CHIEF CELEBRITY – Brands used to be self-directed, but now they’re increasingly community facing. Instead of a personal blog, people are creating idea blogs. Instead of Mannering Creative, Simon branded his company We First. Instead of Murgatroyd Media, I branded my business Live Your Message. We’re moving from a hierarchical culture to a flat culture. Instead of CEOs and Chief Celebrities who are larger than life, our culture wants more accessible leaders – Chief Celebrants who represent something larger than themselves. It’s no longer about us – we’re all tired of the cult of celebrity – now it’s about our customers.
- LEAD WITH LISTENING AND CO-CREATE SOLUTIONS WITH YOUR AUDIENCE – The smartest brands in the world lead with listening. Show that you’re willing to talk to your customers and take their perspective into consideration – invite their input into your programs before they come out or, better yet, reverse engineer your solutions directly out of what your audience wants and asks for. Wherever possible, spark conversations and create shared experiences. Your greatest asset are your customers. Instead of pushing your products to them, pull them in through engagement. Invite them into your business and reward their participation.
- EVERYTHING IN YOUR BUSINESS IS NOW SOCIAL – Social technology is rapidly becoming the main portal for new customers to enter your world. Instead of simply searching Google when they have a problem, more people are turning to social networks to ask for advice and recommendations. Up to 90% of all purchases are subject to social influence, turning your fans and customers into advocates and distributors for your business. If you want to invest in the future of your business, Simon recommends spending 20-30% of your time on social engagement and managing your brand online.
- EXIST FLUIDLY IN REAL TIME – We are now connected 24/7. Instead of simply having destination websites and expecting your audience to come to you, more and more brands are existing fluidly in real-time conversation. Rather than simply sticking to an editorial calendar, Simon suggests that you respond to conversations that are happening now, because it shows you’re listening. Monitor conversations around your brand and topic in real time through tools such as TweetDeck, so you can join the conversation as it happens. But also be willing to engage off-topic and leverage pop culture and current events – flow with the conversation where it’s happening rather than trying to redirect it.
- BE EVERYWHERE, BUT BE STRATEGIC – We live in a fractured media environment full of changing platforms and technologies. You need to move with your customers and distribute your message across the web, rather than focusing everything on a single channel (whether that be your website or Facebook). The tools will continue to change, so lead with your long-term goals and purpose, rather than short-term strategies. Once you clearly define and articulate your brand, you’ll be able to move quickly and seamlessly across all channels, fluidly interpreting your brand story for each new environment.
Remember, you don’t know where people will enter your world, so make sure that everything you do online represents you and your brand. In order to succeed in this marketplace, you have to master both social technology and brand storytelling. If you start using social technologies before you’ve clearly defined your brand and your purpose, you’re not going to resonate with your audience. If you don’t know what you’re about, no tools, strategies or technologies will save you.
So tell me, why are you in business? And how are you different from everyone else in your field?