One of the most crucial factors of your brand is its ability to serve as a mirror of sorts for your intended audience. You want your target audience to identify with you and your brand in a way that makes them feel at ease. They want to feel like part of the in-crowd when it comes to brand identification.
This is why the Mac vs. PC debate is so popular. There are even still people that argue over Coke vs. Pepsi. Each of these arguments are between individuals that, in some way, can relate to the brand they are defending.
Of course, getting this kind of passion and loyalty from your audience is much easier said than done. How do you manage to get this sort of brand recognition and loyalty? How do you see to it that the public—be it worldwide or even just in your small hometown—is forever talking about you?
It comes down to how influential your brand is.
It’s Not Entirely Up To You
Sure, you’re the one that comes up with all of the marketing ideas and started the business in the first place. But even after all of the time and energy you put into getting the business started, you ultimately don’t have full control over how influential your business is.
A large part of your brand’s influence depends on your audience and customers and/or clients. While your efforts and products are the reason they come to you, once your initial dealing with them is over, a good portion of your brand’s influence rests on their opinions and how they respond.
Also, take into consideration the sort of audience you are targeting. Are they well-to-do people that run in very influential circles? Or are they loners that tend to not socialize as much? Depending on the personalities of the demographic you primarily cater to, your brand can live or die by their actions. Because of this, you need to choose your audience wisely while still trying to please the masses.
Ah, but therein lies the perplexity of it all. How do you yourself make sure that you are being influential enough to sway those masses? How can you behave in a way that not only encourages others to stake a claim of interest in your brand, but reflects the attitude and influence of your brand at the same time?
Honestly, it’s tough. Most if it comes down to critical intagibles.
Breaking the Ice
This can be as awkward as breaking the ice after you have finally found the courage to go up to that particular someone you’ve been wanting to date for a while. But, as is the case in dating, confidence goes a long way. That’s not to say that you want to get up in their face and pitch your product right away; there’s a very fine line between confidence and foolishness.
You could be the biggest baddest expert on any given topic and that still doesn’t give you the right to interject your business into a conversation whenever you want. Be patient, be polite, and above all, be professional. Keep the conversation light and only pitch yourself and your business when the opening arises.
It’s almost like a game…you need to subtly move the conversation around to look for your opening. As cheesy as it may be, strike up a conversation on the weather. Comment on a recent sports game (grrr those Red Sox). Find anything that exists as a commonality between you and your audience and use that to your advantage when breaking the ice to make your pitch.
Remember…someone needs to open the door for you to let you in. No one wants it kicked down on their head. The difference between these two can make or break your power of influence.
Don’t be like some and confused empathy with apathy. Empathy is one of the most important weapons at your disposal. The great thing is that as long as you’re a good listener (or even if you can just pretend to be), you can evoke empathy.
This includes managing to come off as being sincere and caring—and the easiest way to do that is to actually be sincere and care about the customer. You need to discover why people are coming to you and what they need. But it’s more than what they need; it’s why they need it. You need to understand their motives and have an intimate knowledge of why they need your services or products.
No matter what your status might be or how well your business is doing, it is important appear just as grounded and normal as your clients. You can even entertain them with stories of how you helped previous custimers in the exact same situation. This not only helps show that you can relate to their needs, but it is a great way to sneak in some past performance lingo. A word of caution here, though; make sure you always focus such stories on how you helped the customer—not how much it helped your business.
The Power of Influence
Much of your brand’s influence is based on your first impression. What is the one central idea, feeling, or thought that you want people to associate with your brand? Whatever it is, you need to make it clear. A total stranger that has never heard of your business needs to be able to identify the mood and essence of your brand within just a few seconds of seeing a flyer, your logo, or an ad.
When it comes to influencing people, your brand should be clear and directly connected to your target demographic. Don’t load your message down with stats, figures and bland information just to seem influential. People are going to be much more influenced by your actions and how you engage with the customer. Besides, too much information is boring, and a bored potential client is more likely to say “no” than a potential client who enjoys speaking with you.
While some psychologists may disagree, there is no direct science to influence—not in actual speaking and certainly not in printed and digital branding. You simply have to know your audience well, be well-informed on current trends, and be willing to experiment. All of these are necessary for growth and in the end, that’s what’s the most important: the steady growth of your business and the strengthening of your brand.