Even if you are absolutely certain that your product/service is one of the best on the market, what you think of your brand is not nearly as important as what your customers and potential customers think of it and say about it. They are, after all, the market!

“Brand humility is the only response to a fast-changing and competitive marketplace. The humble brand understands that it needs to re-earn attention, re-earn loyalty and reconnect with its audience as if every day is the first day.” – Seth Godin

In my opinion, Seth’s message is right on target. Brands simply cannot compete in this marketplace if they don’t make an ongoing effort to put aside an ego-driven mindset in order to genuinely engage with their target market. Relationships require humility, whether it’s personal relationships, business relationships, or brand/customer relationships.

To be a humble brand, you need to first listen. Thanks to social media, brands can gather vast amounts of valuable information about consumer preferences… but the humble brand needs to go well beyond data gathering and actually listen, and react, to the customers. True listening requires a willingness to place others’ opinions above the brand’s own (usually biased) view of itself, and to even make product/service changes based on that feedback.

A humble brand also needs to stay engaged. Brands tend to fall short on this one because real engagement takes time, attention, and overall effort, but I can assure you that working in a vacuum is one of the biggest mistakes a brand can make! Especially in the B2B space where relationships are so often the key. A one-time Tweet, a quick Facebook posting, or an email or voice-mail here and there is an announcement, not engagement. Engagement requires a brand/company to reach out by asking questions, offering useful content and solutions to relevant issues, providing useful forums and feedback venues, etc. You want to really stand-out… pick up the damn phone and make something that has gone the way of the dinosaur… a voice call.

Clandestine Events + Experiences EXCELS at this incredibly important part of Brand Humility… I have learned working with them that in their world, nurturing relationships is EVERYTHING. I am a perfect example… I met the co-founders, Kelley Troia and Steve Carnes in Austin while attending the Brand Innovators 4 day Summit at SXSW. They invited my business partner, John Andrews, and I out for a special dinner expereince, one of their specialties, and not only made time to hang with us again, but immediately started engaging with us on various fronts. Not a difficult thing to do as John and I are available and easy to engage, but you would be surprised how many do not take advantage of that opportunity. Kelley and Steve have become two of my favorite people, along with their team, and their humility and genuine desire to please, and over-deliver, always shines through.

That is classic Return on Relationship, because… Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they become.

A humble brand focuses on the relationship before the sale. When a brand adopts the marketing philosophy that it is all about relationships, they automatically begin paying more attention to customer needs and preferences to learn who the customers really are. Customers and prospects who feel valued by a brand will in turn assign value to the brand by buying the product/service and passing recommendations on to their networks. The sale then becomes a natural part of the ROR (Return on Relationship) instead of a “hard sell” effort.

It is a new marketplace out there – let your brand be an example by modeling how effective true brand humility can be!

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