Small Business Column: Communicating with customers

In the wake of the Irish Water debacle Kehlan Kirwan looks at how to communicate with customers and how to get them involved in your brand.

How Irish Water has brought its “message” to the nation is undoubtedly a lesson in how not to communicate your business to customers. In this column I’ll look at some of the key things you should consider when trying to attract more people to your brand.

Emotions

Yes anger is an emotion but definitely the wrong kind of emotional connection to be making. People buy into what gives them the best emotional response. A good example of this is“comfort food”, in particular chocolate. Watch an ad for chocolate and it will be filled with fun or relaxation. This is to provide the consumer with an emotional response to correspond with their message. A feelgood factor. Believe it or not I’m a sucker for gravy ads. They always remind me of my mum’s Sunday roasts. It that type emotional response that will get the customer hooked on your brand.

The Message

What is that you stand for and why? This may seem like a straight forward question but many business owners struggle to answer. Your message isn’t just about your product it’s also about the ethos behind your business. That ethos is a definition of why your business does business. Having a great product is all well and good, but if I don’t believe in the why then I won’t buy.

Your Story

Never be afraid to share your business story. Some of the best companies I have interviewed were great businesses because of where they have come from. More and more we see that consumers want to know the people behind the business and who they are. If you go into a major supermarket chain you’ll probably see posters showing the farmer who grew the potatoes or the business that makes the jam. This provides the customer with an ease of mind that when they buy the product it is helping a real person with a real story. Having a story matters and in many ways ties into our first two points.

Continuity 

A customers experience should be the same whether they are a first time customer or one who has been with you for years. The experience your customers have with you from day one should continue the same as long as they stay with you. I’ve often wondered why companies offer great deals to new customers but very rarely reward their long standing customers. Give your customers an excuse to stay with you, not to leave you. Gillian Horan from the branding company The Pudding, says that this also means everything in your business. “How you answer the phone, how staff dress, how you meet clients and how you update them on what’s going on in your business are all a branch of your brand. Your brand is your business in its entirety not simply a logo or a website.”

People buy into what gives them the best emotional response


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