How to get your loyal customers talking about your brand.
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There’s been a shift in marketing. It’s no longer enough to sell a product based on a fancy feature or to rely on its successful predecessor. Customers, particularly millennials, want products to give them authentic experiences, and they also recognise that no one, and no brand, is perfect.
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are not teenagers anymore. In fact, they make up around 2 billion of the populations, and as the baby boomers hit retirement age, it’s the millennials who are taking more of a spotlight in making decisions; whether that be business or consumer based.
Why is this important for your brand's marketing? Because millennials want brands to have an opinion. An opinion is daunting, but this level of honesty can unlock a huge opportunity for brands to not only gain customers who are loyal, but who become evangelists for your brand.
And if that doesn’t tempt you... 57% of consumers are said to be willing to boycott brands who don’t share social beliefs. Just take a look at Nike, Gillette and Heineken, all brands which have broken the internet but boosted sales with its strong adverts aimed at social issues in the last 12 months.
Of course, we can’t push a generation so large into one demographic. But, buying behaviour has changed, and millennials have led the way with this. How can you adapt to this new way of marketing?
1 - Become Part of the Conversation
You’re not just talking to your customers anymore; you need to create a community where they can feel welcome to discuss their thoughts with you. Consider what drives your company, what messages you stand for, and discover what is important for your brand story.
To join the conversation, it needs to make sense - don’t do it for the sake of it. One good example is AirBnB and its “We Accept” campaign just nine days after President Trump signed a controversial order to temporarily close America’s border to refugees.
The ad showed a host of different nationalities coming together and was one of the most praised Super Bowl ads of all time.
Celebrate causes, build on conversation and speak out on issues. Want to talk about the struggles of Brexit? Do it. Just make sure it fits with your wider brand story. And don’t be afraid of showing humour, just like Greggs did with its vegan sausage roll launch, replying to criticism by celebs like Piers Morgan.
2 - Leverage Events
Events are a great way for businesses to get people who are advocates of their message all in one room. Give fans, customers and advocates an experience and build a relationship with them. Networking is popular for a reason!
If you’re a brand going to an event hosted by someone else, have merchandise ready that you can give to people, so that they can associate your brand’s message with that event.
Whether it’s a Freshers Fayre or a technology exhibition, try and make it memorable in order to cut through the noise. Offer make-your-own badges on the day to tie in with a specific cause, or a donation box to your dedicated charity.
It doesn’t have to fit with what your products are - just what your brand stands for.
3 - Stay Real
Millennials buy with their beliefs - you can’t lie to them. The buzz around ethical or social-minded businesses is not new, but with unprecedented access to information that buyers now have, they can fact find anything online.
When you couple this with social media, it’s easy for consumers to spread the word fast about a company - good or bad.
Don’t push a social stance if you aren’t going to stick to it, or if you aren’t 100% on-board.
In the month where sausage-maker Heck came under fire for its photo opp with Brexiteer Boris Johnson, despite the fact that it has a largely Eastern European workforce, you need to realise that consumers are getting smarter at figuring out and identifying insincere brands.
Are your opinions that you’re portraying to the media in line with your target audiences beliefs?
4 - Look to Micro Influencers
Social media is a great thing, but it’s not enough for your brand to tweet about buying your product for people to buy it anymore. And it isn’t going to help you to attract new customers.
This is where micro influencers come in - those who have built a network of loyal fans who trust their opinion and they are considered experts in their niche; whether that be fashion, motherhood or skydiving.
Micro influencers don’t have millions of followers, but they have followers who trust them. If you have a new campaign, work with bloggers and micro-influencers who can talk about your brand, and open it up to new audiences multiple times over.
5 - Your people are your biggest asset
Is your MD passionate about Extinction Rebellion? Are you a family business who are passionate against animal testing? Talk about it, and nominate spokespeople to push the message to the press. Write op-eds, do public speaking events, and even see if they can talk about the issues on their own social media profiles.
Write on your blog of the top people in your industry who are advocating social change, and collaborate with them. You could even take it one step further and create your own awards for it, like Lush did with the Lush Prize which was in conjunction with the Ethical Consumer for ending animal research.
Resonating with brands is more important now than perhaps ever before in the social savvy world. So what if you have the better product?
It’s not just about that anymore, but about what that customer thinks about being associated with your brand. Make your own community, and see more than just brand exposure, but more loyal customers who will talk about you, share your values and contribute to your experience.