Today we are inundated with marketing jargon that can be confusing, overwhelming and downright unnecessary, but ‘Emotional Connection’ is a simple one to decipher and one that does actually hold importance to businesses of all shapes and sizes. It’s simply about building a bond with our clients and target market to optimise buying potential.
For large brands, generating an emotional connection can be achieved through multifaceted branding strategies aimed at inciting certain feelings towards a brand and their products and thus deepening the ‘brand/consumer’ relationship. Think of brands such as Virgin Atlantic – don’t you want to be treated as a VIP when you travel even though you’re just Joe Blogs flying economy? And even good old Marks & Spencer – they know that at the end of a hard week at work I want to treat myself to a delicious two-course meal ( with a side and a bottle of wine!) because I deserve it, and they know by showing me an advert of beautiful looking food I will be seduced.
Their strategies will have been developed as a result of lengthy and detailed consumer insights work that has pinpointed their target consumers, delved deep into their needs, wants and aspirations and used these to create campaigns with impact.
But building an emotional connection with your clients goes much deeper than advertising and it’s a concept that should not only be considered but embraced by smaller organisations too; both those with B2C and B2B offerings. Implementing simple revisions can have a positive impact on your bottom line by increasing customer loyalty and therefore encouraging repeat business, cementing budding new client relationships by giving you competitive advantage and increasing the likelihood of customers recommending you to others. And the great news is: generating emotional connection has little or no outlay! It might take a little time and several changes within your organisation may need to be made, but it’s more about attitudes and ethos rather than processes and procedures.
Simply put, emotional connection is about trust. If someone trusts your organisation and your product you have increased your likelihood of them buying, re-purchasing and recommending you. Obviously the cost of your product or service will come into play, but if it’s priced right, people will often pay a little more than the competition if they trust your offering. But nowadays consumers are a jaded bunch and trust needs to be earned. So, how can you generate trust?
This applies to both service and products. If your customers are consistently in receipt of excellent service at every contact point within your company, trust will be built. But it only takes one bad experience to break down this trust; therefore it’s paramount that every employee understands this and any service issues are addressed as a high priority as this will have a direct effect on future sales and recommendations for that customer. Likewise, if your customers are accustomed to being in receipt of a high quality product, any changes to quality could be detrimental.
People respect honesty, but unfortunately this is an area where many companies and individuals fall down, preferring to hide the truth for as long as possible in the hope that the situation might change. If you are upfront with your customers from the outset they are more likely to respect you and therefore trust that you won’t lie to them in the future.
Trust can be earned by being empathetic to our customers’ needs and this is a two-way street entailing listening intently in order to gain true insight into what they really want – not what we think they want. It’s difficult to establish trust with people we have no previous connection with but you are more likely to gain their trust and custom by showing an interest in their individual wants, needs and concerns. Key business areas are obviously sales and customer service teams, but assess the areas within your business where communication may be hindering the development of trust. Don’t assume to know your customers, find out what makes them tick. This can be as simple as having a meeting with your most loyal customers and establishing what they value most about your offering and where they feel you could improve. You could also take this a step further and contact those who have not continued to purchase from you and try to gain an understanding of why they chose to go elsewhere; this will help you to define areas where improvements should be made.
Authenticity correlates directly with your brand values. You may be a small organisation with no formal values, but establishing a concise list of clear values can give your company the direction it needs to cement trust from customers. Ask yourself how you want to be perceived by customers and suppliers and how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. For your business to be authentic, everyone within it needs to be on the same wavelength therefore employees need to be onboard and aware of how they can implement values into their service delivery.
None of this will happen overnight, but consistent application of these strategies should assist in building strong customer relationships that, in a competitive and dynamic business world, can only put you in a better position to deal with problems as they arise and help gain advantages over your competitors.