It may sound blunt, but it’s the truth: When it comes to brand communication, no one cares about you. They care about your brand, your values, and what your company stands for. That’s why it’s so important to use strategic communication best practices geared at growing your business, not your ego.
Your story does matter — but only if it provides value to your audience. Sharing information that gives insight into your ideals and processes gives outsiders an insider view of your company and humanizes your brand. This is critical in managing consumer expectations and relationships with your brand.
Here’s how to tell that story:
# 1. Know your audience and what’s in it for them.
When you know who your audience is and what they care about, you can craft a message that speaks to your ideals and what you strive for. Then, you can market to a group that desperately wants to hear this message. Ask yourself, “Why am I sharing this information? And why should anyone care?” Your message becomes infinitely more powerful when it’s targeted toward an inviting audience.
For instance, consider Beats headphones. They are made by Monster, a company that creates cable wires. Beats has created a message aimed at people who love music: People who like hip-hop and rap and wouldn’t be caught dead listening to music using Bose headsets. It’s a message that allows people to self-select. The Beats line was created by Dr. Dre, and his celebrity image helped build credibility. If the audience can relate to him and his music, they’ll feel camaraderie with the brand.
# 2. Don’t confuse validation with education.
When you share something about yourself or your company’s success to make you feel better about yourself — or to make the company appear more relevant or important than it truly is — that’s asking for validation and an ego boost. But, if you’re sharing information about your company or yourself in order to teach or help illustrate a point, that’s education. Consumers and other businesses respect education, but they are turned off by validation-seeking communications.
There’s a common — but incorrect — belief that we should only show the good stuff, because it makes us look better. In reality, when we announce our mistakes and show our warts, it helps to grow our business because it shows we’re not perfect. Consumers aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for people and companies to root for. And nothing is more powerful than a mistake that someone acknowledges, takes responsibility for, and then moves forward from.
# 4. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.
This may sound counterintuitive to the whole “validation/education” piece: If you have done something noteworthy or remarkable, you should make sure to share it with the right people. That said, make sure what you have to say is truly notable. For instance, “Matthew Goldfarb started Corporate Renegade after 12 years of working as a copywriter in Corporate America” would not be noteworthy. “Matthew Goldfarb started his career bringing Mr. T back into popular culture by writing television ads for 1-800-Collect,” however, would be noteworthy.
# 5. Stand for something big.
I recently saw Bert Jacobs speak at a conference, and his whole message — “Life is Good” — was about helping kids. The company creates great clothing, and every time you purchase from them, you’re benefiting kids. By employing this type of messaging, you’re showing your audience that you’re coming from a place of service and education. Your goal is to stand for something, educate, or provide value. It’s not just about making yourself feel good.
Many traditional models are failing to do this because they’re still working off a faulty paradigm. They think that pragmatic, cold, calculated, and medicinal corporate approaches work. It’s why there’s such a huge disconnect with big companies. These organizations haven’t yet figured out how to speak to audiences about what they care about.
When you share of yourself — and your messaging is meant to illustrate your point of view — you facilitate a connection with your audience that goes beyond you or your business. You create an appreciation of shared values, and that has nothing to do with ego.
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