One of the most trending conversations between people in the United States are brand-related conversations. There are so many of us with such great ideas and we’re all trying to figure out how to create a brand that sells.
In my book Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life, I teach that great businesses are all built upon trusted and successful relationships. These relationships are essential to getting the referrals we need to build the thriving and successful brand we dream of. What we have to keep in mind is people aren’t shy when it comes to talking about their experiences, both positive and negative, with companies. A study from HubSpot quotes that 92 percent of people rely on the opinions of family and friends when making purchasing, banking and decisions that will attract potential customers through our sales and marketing efforts. To follow are some easy ways to generate referrals without having to go through the grind and rejection of cold-calling.
1. Capitalize on word-of-mouth.
Brands need to rely on the undeniable power of word-of-mouth and turn to customer referral techniques as a means of increasing both customer sharing and connections with the higher quality prospective customers we’re looking for. These referrals will undoubtedly trust a person they already know more than they will ever trust our advertising. To avoid cold-calling we need to get out there and make real connections. Word-of-mouth is the greatest compliment any company can receive because it is always based on direct customer experience and satisfaction.
2. Touch points.
Stacy Brown Randall in her book Generating Business Referrals Without Asking, drives the above point home in that referrals start with relationships. Her philosophy teaches us that referrals first begin with relationships, that relationships come from connections and that connections are built through on-going touch points. Randall defines touch points as the outreach we do to make a connection. Touch points include checking in and keeping in touch, but Randall goes further, turning those touch points into deeper and more significant relationship topics of connection. Randall quotes “In business trust is the real currency, and relationships are the economic driver.” She encourages us to get out of the old “cold-call” model of asking for referrals and to move towards deeper and more meaningful connection points that bond our customers to our mission. Touch points are emotional connection points.
3. Offer what people want.
For any brand to take off, we have to be offering a service or product that is practical, useful and something consumers see a real need for. Whatever our brand is, we want to make sure we’re not adding stress or complication to people and their existing business model. Our goal should always be to offer a product or service that makes life easier and less complicated for our consumers. As we’re branding we have to consider others, not just our “great idea.” When a brand, service or product are created for the consumer, the consumer will naturally want to tell everyone they know about our product or service. Great ideas that create too many complications, challenges or change-consequences for the consumer, we will not receive the type of referrals we want. In fact, unsatisfied and frustrated customers will refer people away from our brand.
4. Use the negative for positive.
It takes time to build a thriving brand. It takes marketing, advertising and a tremendous investment in what service or product we’re putting into the world. Keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. We will experience failure or challenge along our journey. We must be patient and use consumer complaints as clear direction on how to grow and improve our product, brand or service. We must refrain from taking bad reviews or negative feedback personally. We must use this information for our own learning and education. Maybe the product or service we offer will need to shift and shape-change to become the product the consumer is looking for to make it into an undeniable success. We must learn not to take things personally; we must learn to take feedback and use it productively.
5. Maximize social media.
A great way to capitalize on creating new connections and reaching the customer base we desire is to put our service, brand or product into the world of social media. We must educate ourselves hash-tagging and other ways to leverage our social media connections. It’s important to take great pictures of our service or product being used, and to come up with slogans that will inspire the consumer to be curious about our brand, enough to want to investigate what we’re offering. Social media is a great way to build new connections. It is also a great avenue to showcase that our brand offers something unique and practical that will only serve to enhance the lives of our consumers.
6. Follow through.
One of the biggest mistakes we make in business is starting relationships, or starting a social media campaign, getting frustrated in the middle of the process and not following through. The more follow through we have, the more successful our brand will be. We cannot stop in the middle of any process and just hope for success. Every aspect of getting our brand into the world will require our time and attention to get noticed. The relationships we develop turn into the connections we need to drive our business to the next level, so we must strive to be a person and a brand others want to be involved with. We must be accountable and reliable. We must do what we say we’re going to do and deliver the results we promise to our consumers.
7. Be Authentic.
Who we are is almost a more impactful and important piece to building our brand than the product or service we’re promoting. At its core, authenticity is about practicing what we preach, being totally clear about who we are and what we do best. When a brand’s message gets out of sync with the actual experience customers are having, our brand’s integrity and future persuasiveness will undoubtedly suffer. Potential customers are drawn toward brands with an original story, that have an engaging and powerful identity and an unwavering and visible commitment to deliver on what their brand promises. For this reason, authenticity speaks volumes. Brands that tell a genuine, honest story resonate with consumers. Consumers want to onboard with honest brands started by honest people. It is this belief that leads our consumers to the willingness to communicate with others about our brand and refer it to others.