You know how important building trust is to the success of your brand. I have written repeatedly about ways to use onsite content, thought leadership strategies and social media to do that. Trust will keep your customers coming back again and again.
But there is something beyond trust that will make those customers ardent supporters, even when there are hiccups in your relationship. By “hiccups,” I’m referring to things like when it takes longer than usual to deliver a product, or the product has a defect when they get it. Moving beyond trust means gaining your customers’ deep respect and generous approval. In a word, it’s “admiration.”
Admiration for your brand is the ultimate customer commitment. You earn it among those who perceive your brand as a solution to their problems, a business they’re proud to partner with and a builder of community. These customers aren’t just loyal to your brand. They love it.
You can have trust without admiration, but you can’t have admiration without trust. If you’ve invested in earning the trust of your customers while building your brand, take the next step. Pull them solidly into your brand’s orbit by earning their admiration. Here’s how you can.
Give Them Agency
Customers purchase products and services that will solve their problems. Take Gabriela, who wants to swap out her old kitchen faucet on her own but can’t get the nut loosened to remove it. After a little Googling, she figures out she needs a basin wrench for the job. She buys an Acme basin wrench, which promises to do the trick.
Gaining admiration, though, requires more than just providing solutions. To earn it, your brand needs to empower your customers by giving them agency. Let’s go back to Gabriela, who can’t get the basin wrench to do what it’s supposed to. Instead of leaving her frustrated, Acme’s website provides a video tutorial that shows her how to make it work. She loosens the nut, replaces the old faucet, feels great about herself and shouts it to the world.
Acme gave Gabriela agency, not only by supplying the tool she needed, but by showing her how to use it. As a result, Acme earned not just her trust, but her admiration. In a world where so much seems outside of people’s control, giving your customers agency lets them take some of it back.
Involve Their Senses and Win Their Hearts
The way to win your customers’ admiration is by engaging their curiosity, rousing their senses and giving them a sense of delight. I know this touchy-feeling talk makes some brands’ leaders roll their eyes. But remember, you’re trying to win your customers’ love, not just their business.
Sensory marketing is grounded in the principle that customers make decisions based on the involvement of their senses, whether they realize it or not. Look for ways your brand can appeal to as many of them as possible, like including a scent of lavender in your packaging or a wrapped chocolate with the pillows you sell. Or create high-quality video content with sounds and images that customers will forever associate with your offerings.
Depending on what you sell, you may need to get creative here. The good news is that opportunities to create content that grips the hearts and minds of your customers are endless. Just remember that what you do to leave your audience with a lasting impression isn’t just about giving them what they want, but what they didn’t even know they needed.
Build a Community
Everyone wants to have a sense of belonging, whether they’re buying a membership, a condo or a pizza. Building community makes people feel less alone in an increasingly fragmented world. Plus, having a team is the stuff diehard brand rivalries are made of: Mac vs. PC, Pepsi vs. Coke, Star Trek vs. Star Wars.
To win over customers to your brand, use content and social media to make this construction project easier than ever. Respond to customer comments, reviews and ratings to let them know you’ve heard them, and use platforms to encourage dialogue and user-created content. Reward and encourage loyalty to your brand, and you can make admiring customers brand ambassadors. If you make a mistake somewhere, not only will these customers be undeterred, they’ll stick up for you.
Building community also requires involvement in activities and events outside your products and services but true to your brand’s values. Doing good for others and for the world gives your customers one more reason to love your brand.
You might have thought building and maintaining customer trust in your brand is the ultimate achievement. However, to create truly ardent customers, you’re going to have to earn their admiration. It won’t be easy. But winning their hearts will create a relationship that’s built to last.