In our digital world, personalization is key. But when the majority of outreach takes place online, it can be difficult for consumers to connect with and trust brands. How can your brand cut through the noise?
You need to humanize your brand.
Humanizing your brand shows consumers the real people behind your business’s front. And, it’s easier to connect with people than businesses.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, only 54% of people trust U.S. brands—that leaves 46% of people who are skeptical. On the other hand, 75% of employees trust their employers, aka the key people behind the business. You need to build that same level of trust with your consumers.
Are you ready to connect with your customers? Let’s get started. Check out these six steps to humanize your brand.
1. Develop a relatable online voice
How do you communicate with customers? You may use your website, blog, social media pages, online review sites, direct email, email campaigns, and online chats. And, what do all of these examples have in common? They’re all online.
With so much taking place on the web, you need to develop a relatable online voice. Without one, consumers won’t know whether they’re interacting with a robot or a live person. If you want to humanize your business, write like you’re a person. Personalize messages to customers, use humor, show empathy, and be yourself. Talk to customers like you already know them to create lasting relationships.
Once you develop your brand’s voice, keep it consistent across platforms. Relate to your audience regardless of whether you’re engaging customers on social media or your business blog.
2. Keep your startup story real
Rome wasn’t built in a day—and most likely, neither was your business. You probably had some setbacks, failures, and frustrations when starting your company. Unless you were very lucky, your startup wasn’t a bed of roses.
And that’s OK! Having a rough startup story humanizes your business. Whether you sell to businesses or consumers, your audience wants the real story that highlights the people who worked to make your dream a reality.
Let’s look at my payroll and accounting software company, Patriot Software. Its startup was not glamorous. We started in the basement of a factory. We were hot from no air conditioning, cold from no heat, and wet from flooded floors. Can you picture it? (If you can’t, here’s a video to give you a better visual.)
We, the people in the day-to-day trenches, learned from trial and error. My startup story isn’t perfect because nobody is perfect. And that’s what business is—an extension of the people who operate it and work within it.
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3. Ensure transparency is alive and well
If you want to humanize your brand, make it transparent. Consumers demand transparency from the businesses they buy from. Nine out of 10 customers would likely stop buying from a business if they weren’t transparent.
Keep your business transparent by publicizing relevant information about your business, products or services, finances, and company culture. Ensure transparency is alive and well in your business by doing the following:
- Tell customers where your products come from.
- Disclose what’s in your products.
- Be transparent about your business’s core values.
- Respond to online reviews and take responsibility for your business’s faults.
- Don’t sweep things under the carpet.
- Avoid overpromising and spinning the truth.
- Eliminate hidden agendas.
Of course, don’t reveal trade secrets or too much information about your company in your effort to be transparent.
4. Put a face to the (employee’s) name
Show off your employees on your small business website. Upload photos to appear above, beside, or below the employee’s name and position.
It helps to put a face to a name. Most people are visual and can connect more to a business when they remember that it employs real people. If you look at Patriot Software’s team page, we have photos of each of our employees. And when you hover over the pictures, you get to see a little bit of each individual’s personality.
You can also add icons with an employee’s picture to your online chats. That way, customers know who they’re talking to.
5. Spotlight your employees
Spotlighting your employees lets you showcase one of your workers and boosts engagement among your workforce. Not to mention, it also helps customers connect with your employees, thus humanizing your brand.
Generally, spotlights are question and answer interview. An interviewer asks the employee about themselves, like where they went to school, why they love working for your company, and what they enjoy doing in their free time. You can publish employee spotlights on your website. That way, your employees and the general public can learn more about your employees.
Employee spotlighting has a similar effect as posting photos of your workers. Consumers can get to know your business in a more humanizing light through your workforce.
6. Go beyond online
The web is an outstanding tool for communicating to consumers, but it isn’t your only option. When humanizing your brand, look beyond online outlets to connect with your target audience. Consider integrating direct mail into your outreach efforts.
Direct mail isn’t dead. According to one study, consumers open between 70% and 80% of direct mail. And MarketingSherpa reports 54% of consumers want to receive mail from brands they’re interested in.
If you want to humanize your brand, don’t limit your mail communications to advertisements and mass coupons. Tailor coupons and discounts to customers based on their purchase history. And send personalized holiday, greeting, or thank-you cards, including handwritten cards.
Writing cards by hand can be tedious and time-consuming, and if you have a rather large customer base, you might not want to even think about it. But handwritten cards completely change the game. Recipients know that handwritten cards are from a person, not a machine. This reminds consumers that humans run your business, and those humans are grateful for their business. Spread card writing responsibilities among your team; include the recipient’s name, a personalized note, and the name of the employee writing the card.
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