Here’s a dose of harsh reality for you: Your idea is not original or unique. There is someone out there already doing what you’re doing.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel! There’s more than one way to make a veggie burger, right? Just because someone else is already doing it, doesn’t mean you can’t do it your own way, too.
The key to standing out and making sure your audience knows who you are is to build real, raw, authentic relationships to establish consumer loyalty. There is an art to this type of marketing strategy, and it is guaranteed to be an overall more fulfilling experience for you and your budding tribe.
Be REAL + Share Your Values
While comprised of many different types of people, your audience will have at least one common interest among them. Ideally, whatever that thing is will also be extremely relevant to your business. What you’ve got to do now is make sure your audience knows that you care about the things they care about, too!
For example, let’s say that you’re making cruelty-free, handmade cosmetics, like soaps and tonic waters. You know that your audience will think that self-care is important. You can also assume that they care about animal rights to a degree, since they’re looking at a cruelty-free brand. Speak to those values. Get on social media, get on your blog, get out there in person and share your passion with others. Don’t be afraid to be a little controversial. That can work to your advantage, if you do it the right way.
When you put out the same energy that you’re seeking, it will find you. That means you need to be real and open about the things that matter to you and your brand. This is a crucial part of building consumer loyalty among the people who count.
Communicate, Don’t Automate (Not EVERYTHING)
Here’s another reality check for you: Your Instagress comments are the most obvious thing in the world. That little twinkling heart emoji or “Awesome post!” comment you’re leaving all across Instagram is not doing anything positive for you. In fact, it’s probably hurting you.
People do not want to feel like they’re being spammed or being sold on something on their own posts without asking for info on whatever it is you’re selling. They don’t want to be told to go check out your page. They don’t even know you! Why should they!? That’s just going to get you the “block” button. Sorry, babe.
Listen. I know social media is time-consuming. You can automate your own posts to make life easier for you. Schedule those bad boys! Get it off your plate in one day, in a few hours. But comments? Likes? Save those for your real, live attention. Set aside a half hour to an hour a day to search through related hashtags and find new friends and brands to collaborate with, and respond to comments left on your own posts.
Writing comments in the moment will make the interactions much more meaningful and authentic and likely to turn into something more than a blip on their notifications screen because your comments will have context. You can actually respond to the thing they are posting. Consumer loyalty is difficult to build when you’re not actually speaking to the consumer, just spamming them.
Show People Who You Are, Literally
This is a super simple, super obvious tip that often gets overlooked by brands trying to represent themselves online. You need to let your audience actually see your face! You already know how important it is to make sure your consumer base knows your personal values, but they need to be able to connect with you as a human being, too.
Don’t be afraid to share pieces of yourself with your audience. Consumer loyalty grows when they are able to physically connect themselves to your brand. There’s no better way to do that than to put a face to your brand’s name.
Think about big brands that are household names. Apple. Facebook. Microsoft. You know who the founders of each of these brands are, what they look like, and maybe even a little bit about their personal lives and values and what inspired their respective brands. This is precisely the strategy you should be using to get your brand to personally connect with your audience.
Pay Attention to What People Are Saying About You (Sort Of)
The internet can be a cold place. Everyone’s got an opinion, and the safety of the keyboard & screen can really embolden people to be the harshest versions of themselves. Chances are, you’ve got some critics yourself (or will eventually).
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As entrepreneurs, it can be difficult to hear criticism about our brands when we are pouring our hearts and souls into these projects that become our little idea-children. We nurture and groom the idea until it blossoms, and hopefully, we are able to see it come to bountiful fruition. Without getting feedback and improving upon our foundation, though, we can’t grow!
So here’s where things can get hairy: You don’t need to listen to the true haters. There are some people who just love to tear others down, and there’s nothing you can do to please those people. That’s okay. Don’t worry about them. Don’t give them your attention. Don’t feed into their negativity. You’ve got better things to do, girl.
In short, respond and grow when appropriate. Haters, take a seat.
Hook Up with Your “Competition” (Read: Find Your Business Besties)
For some reason, there’s this underlying assumption that women have to be competitive with each other. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is more than enough room at the top for all of us. As a matter of fact, we’re going to need each other to really climb to the top.
We can see a beautiful, tangible example the other night in Adele’s acceptance speech for Album of the Year at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Instead of keeping the spotlight on herself for her well-deserved win, Adele chose to turn the conversation to Beyonce’s “Lemonade” album, which was also a contender for Album of the Year.
“But I can’t possibly accept this award. And I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful and gracious. But my artist of my life is Beyoncé. And this album to me, the “Lemonade” album, is just so monumental. Beyoncé, it’s so monumental. … And the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering. And you make them stand up for themselves. And I love you. I always have and I always will.”
That’s what we mean when we say “community over competition.” Find other women who do what you do, or something close to what you do, and build real relationships with them. These are the ladies who you need to keep close to your chest, share with your community (and be shared to their community in turn), and put your brand name behind.
Just on paper, it makes sense. Your audiences will likely have things in common, thus giving you both the opportunity to grow your brand name. But you’ll quickly find that collaborating with the right business besties for you will do enormous things for both your business and your personal life.
Getting a business bestie means you’ll learn things about yourself, your industry, your brand, and have the pleasure of aligning yourself with other women who share your values and want to see you succeed, too. Is there anything better than that?