How to Break Out of the Category and Take Control of Your Company’s Image
In today’s blink-of-an-eye society, category is king. It’s only natural—human beings are innate categorizers. It’s how we keep from being eaten by predators as we reanalyze their threat level every day. We examine, define, and categorize everything we’re exposed to so it's easier to identify similar stimuli later.
But the last thing you want your business to be is another entry in a category you didn’t even define. You want to stand out, break the mold, and inspire your audience to take a closer look at who you are, what you do, and how your product can solve their problems.
Well, if it’s attention you’re after, you’re going to have to be radical. No, you don’t need a neon green mohawk or anything. (That might not be the kind of attention you want, anyway.) But you will need to do some things your audience doesn’t expect.
Every prospect is your life-long best friend.
People like to know they’re understood, and creating that experience requires a personal touch. But it’s impossible to address everyone who might find your business with individual familiarity, especially through a blog post.
Or is it?
Treating your readers like your best friends isn’t just good practice, it’s a modern business imperative. That means you need to know exactly who you’re talking to. Creating buyer personas—meticulously crafted fictional representations of your ideal clients—allows you to infiltrate the minds and lives of those most likely to need your services.
For once in modern culture, profiling is right.
Once you know who you're talking to, speak to them directly. Just as you would with a close friend, use shared experiences to connect with your readers on a personal level. You'll be surprised at how easily people feel cared for and understood when you empathize and speak to them directly.
Above all else, commit to educating.
You've undoubtedly heard that when creating content for your business, you shouldn't focus on yourself. That may seem counterintuitive, but I assure you, luring prospects to your website just to overtly self-promote at them is the kiss of death for your first-time interactions.
The most effective way to employ content marketing is to offer answers up front. You know your product, but more importantly, you know your industry. Commit to helping your visitors learn more about your industry, and they’ll come to understand why your company is the best resource for their needs.
And, most importantly, your prospects will have come to trust and value your company long before they reach out to you for help. That saves a lot of time later on.
Your sales team will thank you.
Change the way you talk about your partners.
The infamous Tony Robbins suggests that if you want to change your life, just change your words. I’d say he’s right. Moreover, this wisdom extends into business.
If you want to change the quality or substance of your business interactions, start by changing your words. Not just the words you use when speaking to your clients, but those you use when speaking about them.
Rather than using generic or even predatory words like prospect or target to talk about those you’re trying to reach, name them in your buyer personas and always call them by that name. You’ll develop an organic sense of familiarity that will warm your communications with real people.
Just as people can hear your smile over the phone, they can sense your priorities in your words.
That last thing, but for your employees.
The benefits of treating your employees well are basic knowledge. However, the definition of treating your employees well seems to be more subjective.
Matt Straz, founder and CEO of award winning HR software company Namely, makes a great case for treating your employees like you treat your best customers. “Customers might be the reason the lights stay on, but those customers wouldn’t exist without the hard work and dedication put forth by employees.”
And if you want customers to continue keeping the lights on at your company, you must ensure they find value in every interaction with your employees. Make sure your employees know they are more than mere assets to your company, that they are partners in their company. Their enthusiasm will reverberate through your customers’ contentment.
Promote your business ethically.
Nothing will destroy the trustworthiness of your business faster than scammy advertising. Nothing. Every time you post a clickbait headline, a non-sequitur image, or an email ends up at an inbox address that has not been given to you by the owner, a measure of your reputation dies.
Reputation is finite.
It can be hard to get quality engagement on your social media or blog, and building an email list takes time, attention, and innovation. But the labor is worth it. Besides showing the character of your company, it proves your commitment to investing in quality.
The way you attract prospects is often your first chance at making an impression. Make sure you’re sending the right message.
We live in an age of unprecedented transparency. Every little thing your company does--you do—plays into how your business is perceived. But that’s great! That means you have infinite opportunities to make a good name for yourself.
Take advantage of every one of them.
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