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 consumers 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 a recent blog post)
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 ego-driven campaigns in order to genuinely engage with their consumers and potential consumers. Relationships require humility, whether it’s personal relationships, business relationships, or brand/consumer 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 to the consumers. True listening requires a willingness to place consumers’ 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 with consumers. 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! A one-time Tweet, a quick Facebook posting, or an email here and there is an announcement, not engagement. Engagement requires a brand to reach out to consumers by asking questions, offering useful content and solutions to relevant consumer issues, providing useful community forums and feedback venues, etc.
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 the consumer needs and preferences to learn who the consumers really are. Consumers 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!
Originally posted at Collective Bias
Humble is a word that marketers do not know. They beat you over the head with their message until they lose you as a customer.
Humility would involve letting your customers shape the message. If companies really bought into the “Customers ARE our business” message then customers would have a say in how they would like to receive that message.
Yet obnoxious banners online, stream spamming by any page that you liked in a moment of weakness and mandatory registration to have input have a different message: We are here to indoctrinate you, not have a conversation.
Until customers have a more substantial say in marketing than the shareholders this will not change. To markets, “humility” and “customer” are just words, while “profits” and “market share” are the religion.
Interesting read Ted!
The value of listening to customers can’t be over emphasized. The challenge especially for CMO’s is filtering all of the sentiment into that which is the most critical, and the most urgent.
Pretty harsh Danny. I agree that most do not understand humility, but there are many who do and are learning to not only listen to their customers, and potential customers, but to hear them as well. Customers do have a say because they can exercise their right to support and possibly advocate a brand or not. That is something a brand cannot take away.
Agreed Matt… and many have to learn that is not a science, but an art. Value those who can build, understand, and grow those relationships.