Seth Godin, marketing icon and all around interesting guy, writes in his new book “Linchpin” that when it comes to brand management the most powerful people are those on the front line. That’s never been more true than today. It wasn’t that long ago that consumer opinion of a brand came from what they saw on television ads or heard on the news. Now, however, what a company says about itself is only a very small piece of the branding puzzle. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a one person graphic design business or have 100 employees. Today, anyone connecting via social networking sites, blogs, and other social media sites, can have a major impact. But, there are some things you can control and influence.1
- Make sure your mission and vision are solid
Make it a priority to create a mission and vision that are clear and that your employees are well informed. If they don’t understand where you’re going as a company you can’t expect them to be your front line experts.
- Reduce your message to its core, make it easy to share
Online messages need to be short and powerful and even, in some cases, be able to fit into Twitter at 140 characters or less. What is the essence of your vision?
- Craft messages that are meaningful for your different segments
If you don’t take the time to create messages and copy that speak to the reader they will feel as if you don’t know them or are not listening. Either is detrimental in today’s conversational marketing.
- Aim to give people something they can emotionally connect with
Provide customers and potential customers with products and services they can get attached to so they will naturally want to be your “ambassador”1 and maybe even Tweet about you.
- Communicate across media with a comprehensive approach
Stay consistent with your messaging across all communication outlets, both on and offline.
- Listen and be part of the conversation
Monitor what is being said. You know people are going to talk so pay attention to what they say and then respond to what they say. In some cases not responding can do you harm (perhaps Tiger Woods should have spoken up sooner?)
- Be transparent
Go beyond quality and price. Do things such as providing visible email address online for key company people in addition to letting customers know which person they are talking to on social channels.
You can’t tell people what to think. Brand management today is an interactive process so learn from what you hear. But this doesn’t mean you need to switch tactics the minute someone complains about your current practices – you still need to make sure you stick with something long enough to know if it’s working.