Seven years ago I was sitting across the table, in conversation with one of the most powerful CEOs in South East Asia. I still remember what he said to me – “A.J, I don’t have time for LinkedIn or Facebook. I’m not here for a popularity contest. I have a business to run”. About three years later, I received a message on LinkedIn from the same CEO’s PA and it reads something like this “Hi A.J, I was wondering if you’d like to drop by at our office so that we can explore how some of our digital & social, online initiatives can be maximized?”
Funny how fast our perspectives change when we have a host of industry captains & peers around us, talking about how digital transformation is the next step in ROI breakthrough. Then all of sudden, for a lot of the wrong reasons, everyone wants to get onto that bandwagon. The question is why though? You might be wondering where I’m going with this, so let me explain.
What is one of the most obvious reasons to go into commercial business? Isn’t a large part of it about piquing your audience’s curiosity, then building influence via a memorable product or service, that consequently generates revenue, towards profitability?
But hold on for a second. Aren’t people the core to any business then? Irrespective of what you call them: customers, partners, friendly parties, suppliers, vendors, investors, etc. Without the right people, your brand isn’t really a brand now, is it?
So how do you find the right people? be they customers or partners? The simple truth in today’s digital world is, that you don’t find them, but they sure as hell need to be able to find you, recognize you, & recall you for who you are and what your brand does.
In a disruptive age, the key to branding yourself & your organization is about nurturing an authentic community through your social interactions online, which adds “real” value to your customer’s daily life. How? By letting them engage with a human being & not just an online profile, who thinks & feels about more than just the sale.
People want to invest and engage with you and your brand’s personal “realness” online. This genuine engagement translates to revenue in today’s age of digital, believe it or not.
All this entails thought leadership in your own industry, through action, skills and knowledge that all fall into place within your brand’s digital strategy. It’s about creating relevant frameworks online that allow your customers to clearly witness your passion, expertise and delivery. It’s not about right or wrong, neither is it a carved-in-stone formula that works for everyone.
It’s a Mind-set. What works for you may not work for someone else, even if they’re in the same industry. When was the last time you visited a website or online profile that more than just caught your attention, but also created a sense of care, credibility, & attention?
If you thought clients face-to-face were a challenge, wait till you start interacting with the digital populations, that aren’t just local, but global customers to your brand potentially.
Clients online need to feel as if they’re interacting with a humanized, well-thought-out, trustworthy brand that deserves their business for the right reasons. Is this all that Digital is about? No. But it’s a start because this is a marathon, not a sprint.
This is the beginning of your journey towards becoming your organisation’s brand storyteller.