This post originally appeared on the Core Creative blog.
Brand values are important to any business. Identify the values with which your company can and should align, and you can represent and express those values for your customers so they can identify with them, too. Make your business stronger by adhering to those values, ensuring you are staying on the right track. Your employees should know them and believe in them so you can create harmony throughout your company – total brand alignment; what we call say it. live it.™ at Core Creative.
At the beginning of this year, as part of our Level Up initiative, I had the opportunity to attend NMX Business 2014—the premier social business event for business owners, marketing, advertising, PR and IT executives and change makers—in Las Vegas, Nevada. NMX Business is part of the larger New Media Expo conference, formerly known as BlogWorld.
For two and a half days, I attended sessions with speakers from the telecommunications, health care, marketing and publishing industries. Here are the main takeaways you can apply to your business, content marketing and social media. Align them with your company’s brand values to help build equity.
1. Be Accountable: Take responsibility for your actions.
At a debate called “Blurred Lines: Marketing vs. PR,” Chris Heuer (founder of Social Media Club) and Bryan Kramer (President and CEO of social agency PureMatter) had a heated discussion regarding in which department social media belongs. During the debate, both sides agreed that you must be accountable – whether your social media team is part of your public relations or marketing department.
Accountability means not hiding things from your employees or customers.
If something is going on, talk about it. If you discuss certain situations, you can shed light on the reasons they’re taking place and can diffuse any negativity that may be building up. Likewise, if something good is happening, amplify it! Sharing the background on certain initiatives can allow your audiences to get to know you better, thereby strengthening their emotional relationships with you and your brand.
2. Have Transparency: Always tell the truth.
I was lucky enough to attend a last-minute session with one of my favorite social media experts, Chris Brogan – CEO & President of Human Business Works and publisher of Owner Magazine. This seminar was more of an informal Q&A session, during which he discussed a variety of topics.
One thing that stood out was Chris’s stance on transparency. For example, when he sends sales emails to prospects, the first thing he does is mention he’s about to try and sell something.
Now, normally you wouldn’t consider this a “best practice.” However, Chris points out that people already know what you’re about to do. It’s not like you’d get an email from your best friend that starts out something like, “Sure, you may feel alright now, but did you know that the next flu season could be your last if you don’t take the necessary precautions?”
Whether you’re trying to make a sale or pitch your product to someone, be straightforward. People spend just a few seconds reading an email from someone they don’t know, so come right out and tell them what you want. Then they can decide right away if they want to continue reading.
The average person’s attention span is eight seconds; when pitching a story to a journalist, your message better come through right away! How does your subject line bridge to your greeting, introduction and into the information you need to convey? Have you effectively delivered a hierarchy of information?
3. Respond Quickly: Timeliness is priceless.
The keynote presentation I attended was with Scott Stratten, President of UnMarketing. If you haven’t heard of Scott, check him out – he’s smart and snarky at the same time.
During his keynote, Scott shared a recent unpleasant experience he had with Delta Airlines. As he was going through security, a group of Delta flight attendants skipped past him, bumping into him several times without apologizing. When Scott addressed one of the flight attendants, she gave quite the negative response.
Like any prominent social media figure might, Scott immediately went to Twitter to air his grievances. Just moments later, Delta responded and completely changed Scott’s outlook on the situation.
Had they taken a few hours or a day to respond, I would have still been upset,” he said. But Delta’s quick reply impressed Scott and even ended up strengthening his relationship with the company for the long term.
Whether a crisis situation occurs or you have backlash on one of your social profiles, acknowledge and address the situation as soon as you can. Taking too much time to come up with an answer can cause more harm than good. Often times, people just want to be acknowledged. If you say “sorry,” you can make a situation do a complete 180.
Similarly, if someone says something positive about your company, respond quickly to that as well (all the time, every time!). It shows them that you’re there, you’re listening and you care. And it will encourage them to do it again.
4. Focus on Quality: Sometimes, less is more.
At a later session, Scott joined Alison Kramer, writer and “Co-Creator of Awesome” at UnMarketing, for a live recording of their “UnPodcast” program. The two discussed all kinds of issues (the session was appropriately named “Racist Tweets, Flip-Flopping Cracker Barrel and Free Donuts”), but what stood out most to me were their thoughts on quality over quantity content.
Sure, they may have been specifically talking about podcasts, but the message applies to all content – whether it’s an article, e-newsletter or Facebook post.
“Content should not be a chore,” Scott said. “Share content worth sharing, not because you’re supposed to post daily, weekly or monthly.”
When it comes to subscribers Chris Brogan also sides with quantity. He recently purged his (quite large) email list after noticing most of the people weren’t even opening his emails.
“What do you want more in life?” Chris asked. “Quality community members versus quantity of community members?” People who take the time to engage with your company are far more valuable than having a large audience that doesn’t participate.
Whether you’re talking content or community, always make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
5. Provide Value: Give your audience what they want.
Martin Jones, senior marketing manager for Cox Communications, hosted a seminar on content marketing. During his presentation, he talked about the importance of value.
“People are not buying into your product through storytelling,” Martin said. “They’re buying into your approach in solving their problem.”
Customers connect with you based on five factors: What they want, what they don’t want, the issues they’re facing, how you can solve those issues and what makes you different than your competitors. Determining the answers to those factors can put any business on the path to success.
Chris Brogan feels the same about value, especially when it comes to purchasing a product or service.
“People don’t have as much of an argument about price, they have an argument about value,” Chris said. Many people don’t mind paying $15 for a fancy martini, but they’ll become extremely upset if forced to pay $0.99 for an app. Whatever it is that you’re trying to provide, the consumer has to find value in it if they’re going to buy it. And yes, that applies if they’re paying with their trust by offering you their ears and eyes in social media.
Your business should always offer value to your customers – whether it’s directly through your product or service, or through the information you can provide or support you can offer. Show your audience how you can help them.
By taking these five tips and applying them to your business, you can help amplify the values of your company and find customers who align with them as well.