5 Steps to Creating a Strong Consumer-Brand Relationship
Think about your favorite brands and ask yourself, what keeps you coming back? Is it the quality of the product? The price? The customer service? The values and beliefs you have in common? The way they make you feel? It's likely a combination of all of those factors. After all, a brand is not just a product or service; it's an experience.
The experiences consumers have with your brand are a result of their interactions with it. Those interactions, in turn, affect the relationship customers form with your brand. As the global economy becomes increasingly interconnected, consumers are taking note of which brands are making an effort to build genuine relationships. Companies that are succeeding know the importance of forging solid relationships with their customers, especially since it costs five times more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.
In this blog post, we'll explore what consumer-brand relationships are, why they're important, and how you can build one of your own.
What Is a Consumer-Brand Relationship?
Just like regular relationships, customers often meet brands on social media apps or through a mutual connection. It's just like dating. In the beginning, you start off by watching their TikTok videos, follow them on Instagram, and then eventually decide to make it official by purchasing one of their products. If the product lives up to the hype, that relationship further cements itself; however, if it doesn't, you stop watching their content, unfollow them, and you definitely don't buy from them again. You might even leave a bad review to warn others about your experience.
The Importance of a Consumer Brand Relationship
The goal for brands is not only to build that relationship BUT to sustain it over the long haul. Creating and maintaining a solid relationship with your customers has many benefits:
Firstly, people don't buy what they don't know, what they don't like, and who they don't trust. However, you're more likely to turn them into paying customers by forging a relationship with your prospects. According to Sprout Social, "when consumers feel more connected to brands, they are more likely to buy (76%) it over a competitor."
Secondly, it takes time to form a relationship. The strongest brands are constructed through ongoing interactions that solidify the bond between customer and company.
Thirdly, consumers are looking for a connection. They are actively looking to forge relationships with brands that understand them on a deeper level. Consumers are telling brands what they want; they just need to listen.
Fourthly, if you keep your customers satisfied, they will remain with you longer and spend more money, increasing your customer lifetime value (CLV). They will continue to buy your products, introduce you to new people, and serve as vigorous advocates for your brand.
Lastly, brands that offer a buffet of content to consume and a community to connect with have a greater chance of being chosen over the competition because they are something more than just a commodity.
The takeaway is that relationships are essential to the success of any business. So, how can consumer-brand relationships be built to last? This can be difficult to do because, well, humans are fickle. We often forget about brands and move on to the next big thing; therefore, it's crucial for brands to always be working on their relationship with consumers.
What You Need to Know About Creating and Maintaining a Strong Consumer-Brand Relationship
Since relationships develop over an extended period, you need to put some effort into getting to know your consumers and building that relationship. Like any relationship, consumer-brand relationships take time, energy, and effort to maintain. Here are five key steps you can take to create a solid consumer-brand relationship:
Step 1: Know Your Audience
The first step to creating a strong consumer-brand relationship is to get to know each other better. In the case of consumers and brands, that means understanding what motivates your target audience and vice versa.
The saying 'if you talk to everybody, you talk to nobody' is very relevant when discussing how important it is to have a targeted approach. By taking the time to get to know your target market, you stop throwing spaghetti at the wall, hoping it will stick, and actually start crafting a message that does stick. Which, in turn, helps you form a stronger relationship with them.
This seems like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many brands need to remember to focus on what the consumer actually wants. It's not about what you want to sell them; it's about what VALUE you can provide them - even before the sale. Find out what problem your product or service solves for them and make that the focus of your marketing efforts. Below are a few starting points to learn more about your target market.
Create a Buyer Persona
In detail, describe who your customer avatar is. Include information like:
Their name, age, and gender
Their income and education level
Their title and industry
Their goals and challenges
The places they search for inspiration and solutions
The type of content they engage with
The answers to these questions should guide your marketing efforts. This information can be found through market research, surveys, and social media. While you may exclude many, you will hone in on your unique audience and learn how best to reach and serve them.
Step 2: Let Them Know You
The second step to creating a solid consumer-brand relationship is ensuring your audience understands your brand. As stated earlier, people don't buy what they don't know, what they don't like, and who they don't trust. We bond with brands that we can see ourselves in. Your audience needs to understand your brand's message and values. This way, it becomes simpler for them to connect with you personally.
How you express your brand to customers affects how they perceive it and, consequently, whether or not they do business with you. So how do you ensure that your target consumer understands your brand?
Identify the Brand DNA
Here are a few questions you should answer:
Why does your brand exist? Consumers want to know the story behind the brand
What does your brand stand for? Consumers want to feel confident that their purchase is supporting a company with a mission they can get behind
How is your brand impacting their lives? Consumers want to know how your brand will make their lives easier or better
How is your brand leaving its mark? Consumers want to feel like they are part of something bigger than just a purchase
Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the brands they align themselves with. There are three types of reference groups:
Associative: This is the group that you belong to
Dissociative: This is the group you never want to belong to
Aspirational: This is the group that you aspire to belong to
When we make purchasing decisions, we often base them on our aspirations. This means that we are not just looking for a product that meets our needs but also projects the image we want of ourselves. In contrast, we will avoid products associated with groups we don't want to be seen as part of. Let's say you're trying to become more health-conscious. You might avoid products that are associated with being unhealthy, such as fast food or sugary drinks.
You can turn your target consumer into a lifelong customer by bridging the gap between who they are and who they want to become. This is where communities are born; we will discuss this later.
STEP 3: Developing Customer-brand Connections
The third step to creating a robust consumer-brand relationship is developing a deeper connection with your customer. After you've both gotten acquainted and curiosity and interest have formed, it's time to start creating a lasting relationship. Consumers want to connect with brands that understand them and interact with them on a deeper level.
As HubSpot says, "the way companies will succeed is with customer connection." The better your understanding of your target audience's needs, wants, and desires, the better your chances of capturing, captivating, and converting them. Rapport is built gradually over time through multiple interactions. This means that companies need to regularly produce high-quality content that is of interest to their target audience.
Establish the Buyer's Journey
Now that you know what your target audience wants, you can deliver it through your free content and paid offerings. The content you create must appeal to your audience's needs at every stage of the sales funnel.
Top-of-the-funnel: This type of content is all about getting your audience to know you. The goal here is to effectively communicate the value of your brand so that they take notice.
Middle-of-the-funnel: This type of content is all about getting your audience to like you. The goal here is to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry so that your audience starts to see you as a valuable source of information.
Botton-of-the-funnel: This type of content is all about getting your audience to trust you. The goal here is to give them everything they need to make a decision confidently.
The content you create will let them get to know you on a deeper level, come to like you more, and eventually trust you enough that they purchase your products, refer others, and become a part of your community.
Step 4: Build a Community
The fourth step to creating a solid consumer-brand relationship is fostering a community. A community can be beneficial at every stage of the buyer's journey, from pre-purchase to post-purchase. A brand can construct multiple communities simultaneously, such as connection groups (free) and customer groups for which people pay. In fact, buyers expect some type of customer community.
Create a Community
Brands can use communities to:
Bring people together: Help customers connect with others who share their interests, passions, or simply a love of your brand. A survey conducted by Sprout Social found that "49% of consumers want brands to bring people together towards a common goal."
Improved customer acquisition, loyalty, and advocacy: Attract more targeted traffic to the community while also keeping existing members engaged
Improve product development: Help build the relationships, processes, and features necessary to ensure the community supports as many aspects of the business as possible
Collect community data: Customer feedback is essential for understanding what changes or improvements need to be made
It's one thing to produce a product or service; it's another thing entirely to create an immersive environment. This requires thinking back to who they identify as now and how that relates to who they want to eventually become. The important thing is that you provide an avenue for two-way communication.
Step 5: Evolve With the Community
The fifth and final step to creating a strong consumer-brand relationship is making sure that you are constantly growing and evolving with your consumer base. Brands need to be responsive to their audience's feedback and consumer behavior changes. If your brand isn't growing and changing with your consumers, the relationship will eventually fizzle out.
Adapt to the Market
Your audience will tell you what's working and what isn't. Here are a few things to consider when you're trying to stay ahead of the curve:
How is your audience responding to your brand? The customer sentiment will give you a good idea of how well your brand is doing. Keep an open dialogue with your consumers and always look for ways to improve the relationship.
What type of content resonates the most? Experiment with different strategies to help you gauge which ones are more effective and return a greater investment. The methods that worked yesterday might be less useful today, so it's crucial to be able to change with the times.
What topics is your audience engaging with the most? You can use this information to produce more content that will be of interest to them. If you see a trend emerging, hop on it early.
What changes are there in the marketplace? The consumer landscape is constantly shifting; whether it's a new technology or a change in consumer behavior, you need to be prepared to adapt.
The bottom line is that consumers can purchase any product from any number of brands, so the key is to ensure that your relationship is stronger than others. It's also important to remember that emotions are not static - they change over time. Therefore, it's necessary to frequently monitor how your customers feel and adapt your brand experiences as needed.
By understanding your consumer base, and what they want from your brand and continuing to improve and nurture that relationship, you'll be in a better position to create a strong consumer-brand relationship that will stand the test of time.
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