Here’s the scenario:
The executive team wants to make more money. They look at marketing with a critical eye and say that it must be their fault for not making that happen. Marketing scrambles to create an infographic about the latest and greatest trend. The infographic is about working with millennials or tips for organizing to do lists or how to market a webinar. They post it, add some content, and ask for an email address in order to send it. A woman sees something interesting on twitter from this brand she loves. She clicks on the post, adds her email address and downloads it. She sighs, rolls her eyes and looks at her screen in disgust. It’s the same crappy content she saw from that other company. Unsubscribe. Brand love lost.
Ok, guys. Who came up with this idea and why is this now the “best way” to build a business?
The internet is a truly wonderful place with everything we need at our fingertips. And it’s ruining our ability to truly connect with each other because it has made businesses lazy.
I met someone recently who truly believed that setting up lead pages to build his email list was his best strategy. He was going to build the list and tell them what he did so they would hire him. He wasn’t making any money and wanted to find the quickest way possible to get cash in the door. He was willing to kill his long-term growth to satiate his short-term cashflow. *shakes head*
Another company moved their entire website over to one of those white label content marketing companies and I watched their authenticity walk out their front doors. 30 years of brand building down the toilet because they wanted a grow-quick scheme. They lost all of the high touch they had been known for and slowly started failing. *heartbreak*
Yes, we’re all looking for a way to make money in our sleep. And I say all because even those who aren’t looking for it are still hoping to find a way to not work so dang hard. Sure, you thought if you had more email addresses you’d have more chances to get new clients. "It’s a numbers game.” No. That’s not how this works.
Can we start over?
Hi. I’m Melanie. I’m a human. I’m not your “target audience.” I’m not a consumer or a user or another email address. I’m not a number. I’m your biggest brand ambassador. I’m your marketing department. I’m your sales team. I’m part of a collective of humans who will build your business for you. And I want to be in your club.
Have you heard of Crossfit? If not, you’ve obviously been hiding under a rock. Go find a Crossfitter and ask them about it. You won’t get them to stop talking about it - and for good reason.
When Crossfit boxes started taking over empty retail storefronts and industrial areas, a revolution began. The fitness industry was lackluster at best. Gyms were the places we joined because we felt like they would make us fitter. We went in with headphones deep in our ears avoiding any and all eye contact while staring at ourselves in a mirror hoping that fit person inside of us would show up. We would get trainers to help us but never bother to do the homework they prescribed.
With no marketing budget, very little in start-up costs, and a price tag that provided physical and financial pain to its customers, Crossfit had to get people in their doors. They used the one thing that they knew would help them hit their goals of changing the fitness arena. Crossfit defined their club.
They created a group of hardcore humans who encourage each other, who push each other further, and who wanted to be better than average humans. They found humans who had something in common. Those humans knew more humans like them so they brought them along. They continue to build their club with personal connections, real talk, and hard work to get people connected in a way most of us are craving. And you’ll happily pay them more than a regular gym for way more pain. Crossfit doesn’t have to sell the brand, their Crossfitters do it for them.
Same goes for MINI. Ask one of us about our “little buggies” and we’ll invite you for a ride to show you it’s more than “cute." MINI even created a commercial dispelling the “cute car” brand it had been given - using some badass people. (Every time the commercial ends, I swear Harvey Keitel is going to say “It doesn’t give a f* what you think.") Some may look cute but they’re pretty badass - and the owners will make sure to tell you just HOW badass.
Yes, MINI puts a lot of money into their advertising - but they own their brand in way most companies don’t. They know who their perfect customers are and exactly how to get them amped up. They don’t need to use their advertising dollars to sell their cars. They devise cheeky campaigns that hit their owners (or soon-to-be owners) in the face with MINI awesomeness. They’ve built a club and their “members” are not your every day commuters. They encourage you to name your car (mine is Roxie Jean, the hotrod machine). They’re clear on the fact that not everyone will love a MINI. But those who do love them will wave as they pass their fellow owners.
MINI owners live for the thrill of life. They live the brand of the car - they drive happy, live outside the norm, and love the full brand experience. They build clubs in their own cities to connect with other drivers and go on long drives together so they can talk about their cars. MINI even gave them a place to connect in the US nationally with MINI Takes The States - a drive around the whole country as a group! MINI doesn’t have to sell their cars, MINI owners do it for them.
Are you catching a theme? Humans. Clubs. Community. Humans want to be a part of a community. We’re built that way. We do things together.
So, why is it that businesses think they can circumvent this? Because of the internet? Because we’re just users? Stop it. If I see you doing it again, I’ll do what your mom did when you went to do something you shouldn’t.
HUMANS build businesses. CONVERSATIONS build brands - good or bad. People will love you or they’ll hate you, but they’re going to talk about you either way. It’s up to you to own your brand, find your members, create ambassadors, and keep them talking. It's up to you to build your club.
How do I do this, you ask?
Now we’re getting somewhere.
When I sit down with clients, I want to know about their brand along with their sales, marketing, and recruiting processes. All of these things will tell me everything I need to know about how we can make sure people are talking about them. Because, in the end, you want people talking about your brand. So, I’ve simplified my keynote and our client workshop into four simple questions and a bunch of homework so you can do this yourself. My only ask in return is that you actually do the homework.
Ready? Grab your team and dig in.
People are talking about your business. And by talking about you, they’re building your brand for you. That can be a scary thing for some businesses. To others, it's magic.
Your brand is built on what everyone else is saying about you, not what you’re saying about yourself. With that being the case, what are you telling them so they can talk about you the right way? You have to know your brand and make sure it’s cohesive. All touchpoints, all content, all humans. So, what is your brand? Friendly and helpful or serious and focused? Comfortable and relaxed or busy and fast-paced? If it was a human, how would you describe it?
Branding is a feeling.
The best way to find out what your brand looks like to the outside world - ask them. And no, don’t just look at how they’re tagging you on social media. Only 20% of what is said about you is online. Where is the other 80%? Human to human! So, when was the last time you asked everyone what they’re saying? I know, it’s hard to hear especially when it may not all be amazing BUT this is how companies grow - by listening and learning what the humans are saying.
HOMEWORK: Take a simple survey. Ask simple questions like “When you think about our business, what feeling do you get?”. Truly read through all of the answers (good or bad) and see if what they say matches what you want them to be saying. Then get to work making sure they have the right brand to share.
Crossfit has a club with members with a similar drive for health. Your golf club has members with a similar personality type and love for the sport (or at least the networking). The people in our club - our members - will be cut from the same cloth also.
But most of us have a fuzzy picture of who our ideal clients are. We talk about the type of industry they’re in, what kind of business they are, what kind of systems them use, and how we can get them to hire us - but what is most forgotten about our ideal clients is that your clients are humans. We’re not business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). We’re human to human (H2H).
So, when you ask yourself about your members, talk about the incredible human beings you want working with you on a daily basis - not the building you want to walk into. The humans who you want using your products. The ones who will be talking about you. Where do you they live, eat, drink, work, play? What are their strengths? What makes them happy? Why do they want to work with you? What makes them different from the people you really don’t want to work with?
You’re the average of the 5 people
you spend the most time with.
- Jim Rohn
According to Jim Rohn, we’re the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with - so who do you want to be spending time with from a client perspective? Then ask yourself a bigger question - who are the humans who love to refer you to those people? Of course, your happy clients will refer you but so will people who don’t need what you have to offer. Those referral partners are your members, too! They’re talking about you, sharing their love for you, and making sure you’re successful. How can you keep them talking about you?
HOMEWORK: Surprise and delight. This is simple but so underused and underrated - which means the bar is low (sadly). To those people who give you money AND refer you business, let them know you love them. Send them love notes (hand-written thank you cards) in the mail. Add a hand-written note to the package you’re shipping. Send them a little gift to thank them. A little reminder that you love them so they’ll remember you. Whatever you do, surprise them and make them want to talk about you to more people.
The most underutilized sales teams are sitting in cubicles on computers doing tasks that look nothing like sales. Every human you hire to be a part of your team is also part of your sales and marketing team - and they may have the titles of administration, accounting, operations, production, or similar. They agreed to work for your brand and represent it in some way - which means they are your biggest brand ambassadors. And you’re probably not using them to their full potential.
Your biggest ambassadors are the ones on your payroll.
Raise your hand if you hate reading resumes. Raise your other hand if you hate writing your resume. What if we didn’t have to use resumes anymore? What if we got to recreate our hiring process so that it’s on brand and on purpose? I can promise you that you will find WAY more qualified candidates who fit your culture and stay longer than a resume will ever help with.
Let’s stop asking “what’s your greatest weakness?” Let’s write job descriptions that talk about the culture and the fun they’ll get to have at work every day instead of just listing all of the things we’ll require them to do once they’re on board (and bored). If you're looking for ideal employees, your office space and policies had better reflect the culture they will spend a lot of time helping you evolve and build. They’re the biggest mouthpieces you have and if they aren’t a good fit, they’ll be way louder.
HOMEWORK: Restructure your hiring process. Most companies have had the same hiring structure since someone created one in the 1950’s. It was based on "recruiting and retaining employees" instead of finding and growing amazing humans. Ask applicants to send you answers to specific questions instead of resumes. Let them be creative. Give incentives to your current team for bringing in their friends and family. And ask better questions during the interview so you can get real answers instead of practiced ones.
Picture the last time you wrote a love letter - a physical love letter. You had to go through quite the process compared to writing an email. There was stationery, your favorite pen, beautifully crafted words, heart and soul poured into it, your slow cursive handwriting, intentional signature. Then you had to find an envelope, look up their address (in your phone), dig out a stamp, and then walk it to the mailbox.
How did that person feel when they received it? LOVED! Cared for. Appreciated. Thought of.
The last time you wrote a tweet or an email, did you take that kind of time and effort? Probably not. Most of the time we’re throwing content at a wall hoping it sticks. What if we only wrote great content? Content that inspires, motivates, educates, and engages. What if we thoughtfully crafted only great content and wrote less of it - because the humans we’re sending it out to want to feel loved?
Great content inspires, motivates, engages, educates.
This is how we keep them talking. We send them thoughtful, provoking, great content and they share it. We become the experts and they crave what we have to offer because it’s not the same stuff everyone else is saying. We’re saying it on our own branded way. We stop selling and let them do it for us.
HOMEWORK: Create 3 buckets of content. Your whole team can help you with this great content by giving them three buckets to fill for you. These are three categories that all of your great content will fit into - you can even put three physical buckets in your office if it helps.
I know, I know. I said 4 questions. But this one is extra credit.
The owners of the most specialty brands of cars have their own hand signals to one another.
Harley Davidson riders put their left arm down as they pass another Harley.
Jeep drivers put up two fingers.
VW drivers (and MINI owners) wave.
They each have a secret “handshake”. How will your members know each other when they see each other on “the street”? What’s your secret handshake?
EXTRA CREDIT: What’s our secret handshake?
Once you have answered these questions and done your homework, roll it out and start building. Even if you had a club that was a bit defunct, start it over and make it epic! Once you’ve done all of this, then and ONLY then can you start building your lead pages, webinars, online courses, and infographics that will help you find more members. I will give you my blessing.
BUILD YOUR CLUB:
Own your brand.
Find your members.
Keep them talking.
Ready to get started and need a facilitator? I can rock that for you. Send us a love note.
Need an inspirational keynote for your conference? Check out melaniespring.com