What is your first reaction at the thought of someone disliking you or judging the work that you do?
I know for me it’s discomfort. I love being loved and I feel uncomfortable about the notion of someone not liking me or what I stand for.
For years this stopped me voicing my opinion on matters where it mattered most. I was a bit of a chameleon of sorts. I would adjust my style, my thoughts and my delivery of advice based on what I thought people wanted to hear.
I played it safe. I blended in to the crowd.
Those who are close to me may disagree with this as I have always been known to call a spade a spade. However, if there was a vulnerability where I cared about what people thought – I would always make sure I said the ‘right thing’. When it came down to defining what I stood for, I would adjust it to fit the ideals of whoever I was trying to impress.
As I have grown older and wiser, I have more confidence in myself and my abilities and I have way more courage to provide an opinion or contribution that may or may not be contrary to what everybody else is thinking.
These days I play a riskier game. And it’s definitely paid off.
I’m absolutely sure as a result of this there are people who don’t like me, who don’t agree with me and as a result who don’t want to do business with me. And that’s totally OK. Because they are not the right people for me.
The right people for me share my values. We have similar mindsets and high levels of mutual respect for one another. We love that we challenge one another, and we believe we are better people as a result of having one another in our lives. We are a tribe.
So how can brands avoid falling into the trap of fear and miss the opportunity to build and leverage a tribe?
Firstly, stop trying to be everything to everyone.
In my opinion, successful brands are courageous enough to truly define and segment their customers in the knowledge that it’s not going to include everyone.
No matter who you are or what you sell, you will never be the perfect solution for every single person in this world.
In order for someone to fall in love with your brand, you will have to accept that some people will have to hate it.
Technically anybody with access to cash might be able to purchase your product or service but this does not mean they are your target customer.
It takes bravery to firstly define your target audience, then turn your back on those not within it.
It’s a matter of overcoming the FOMO (fear of missing out) and understanding that there are people in this world who are more likely to buy your product than others.
And if you can create real meaning to these people, if you can demonstrate that what you stand for is aligned with what they stand for, a strong emotional connection starts to form.
As Adjunct Professor Mark Ritson so accurately espouses;
“Without meaning, brands don’t exist. They are simply commodities.”
Strong emotional connections by people who feel connected to your brand will lead to sales and repeat sales. Then most importantly, it will lead to something called brand advocacy.
All of these people who are inspired and moved by your brand and what you stand for (at a deeper level than your product or service simply fulfilling a functional need), will start talking about you.
And any business owner will know that ‘word-of-mouth’ is the most powerful form of marketing you can hope for.
So I urge you to be brave with your brand. Establish what kind of people your brand can be perfect for then go out on a limb to mean something to just them. The results will astound you.