How to get your audience to commit

Think of the last great romantic relationship you had (#swoon). If you're lucky, it may well be the relationship you're currently in. Chances are, you put your significant other through some "tests" before really committing. First, they had to make their presence (and interest) known to you, then you had to actually laugh at their jokes, delight at their dance skills, consume their cooking, rate their kissing abilities and finally, if all went well, you were left with a level of trust that helped take the relationship to its next level (be that sex, marriage/commitment ceremony, moving in together, meeting the folks/kids or all of the above). 

Well, good marketing is a lot like dating. Encouraging your audience to commit only happens when they've moved through three key stages: know, like and trust — the latter being the most crucial to build brand loyalty (the #1 goal of marketing).

So, how do you encourage people to not only know about your business, but to also like and, eventually, trust it? 

It's all about being real: cultivating genuine connections and understanding who your audience is so that you can provide a product or service that actually adds value to their life.

Here's a few ideas that may help you brainstorm new marketing activity for your creative small biz:

1. Know

This stage is all about building brand awareness and can include activities like:

  • collaborating with a like-minded biz in a complementary industry (such as a skin care x home ware or baby clothing x women's wellness) (check out Collabosarus for ideas)

  • conducting an SEO audit of your site to ensure you're driving awareness through search queries and delivering valuable content when people land on your pages 

  • conducting face-to-face focus groups / interviews to find out what your key audience wants and how you can best deliver it 

  • sponsoring events relevant to your key audience

  • guest blogging

  • feature stories and interviews in key media (check out SourceBottle to get started) 

  • speaking at events and on panels 

  • delivering great content, consistently

2. Like

Think of one brand you really like then consider three reasons as to why you like them. Chances are they did something out of the ordinary; they went the extra mile to make you feel appreciated or valued.

Activities in this stage might include:

  • random acts of kindness, such as surprise gifts in ecomm deliveries or a % off your bill / invoice 'just because'

  • remembering birthdays and key dates (it's crazy how simple yet effective this is, particularly with your key stockists, clients or suppliers)

  • discounts and incentives for your audience to share your content with their friends 

  • flash VIP sales for members or loyalty card holders

  • supporting a social issue or charity (check out i=Change if you're a retailer) 

  • creating meaningful content (think Heineken's Open Your World vs. the "cashing-in" on social issues Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner)

3.  Trust

This stage is like marketing nirvana, with trust often leading to on-going commitment from your target audience. But, as one anonymous scholar famously said, "trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair". 

Activity to encourage trust for your brand may include: 

  • adding reviews to your product pages (if you stand behind your product, this shouldn't cause anxiety)

  • admitting when you're in the wrong (i.e. if a parcel will be delayed notifying the customer and offering something even better in its place or a quicker courier service)

  • sticking to your word (i.e. weekly email = weekly email, no matter how busy life gets!)

  • including (genuine!) testimonials, not only on your website, but in status emails and social media

  • showing the people/team behind your small business, making your audience feel like they can form real connections with you and your staff 

  • adding guarantees — when people know they can get their money back or an item delivered by a certain date, they're more likely to trust in their transaction 

  • asking for feedback and actually acting on it 

Depending on your business, some people will move quickly through the three stages. For others it will be a slow burn. The point is to meet people where they are and give them enough reasons to move from one stage to the next. 

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Fiona Killackey