Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Great Brands Are Like Great Friends (Or Friends You'd Like To Have)

Or As Dale Carnegie Put It - How To Win Friends And Influence People

By David Miranda

The photo on the upper left is sign language for the word "friend". As a consumer (or a client), there are many brands who want to be your best friend - and they try very, very hard. Today alone, hundreds of millions of dollars have been earmarked to befriend you and your wallet. The solicitations are everywhere - on TV, the radio, newspapers, outdoor signs, the internet, your mailbox, in elevators, washrooms, on buses, flyers, by paid spokespersons, grocery carts, salespeople, brochures, airports, your mobile device, movie theaters, infomercials, powerpoints, etc. etc. Think for a moment. How many of these solicitations worked? How many of these brand "friends" did you open your wallet to? Chances are none, zip, nada. But no need to worry. They'll be at it again tomorrow. There are ways, however, to make all this effort a bit more productive. It's winning friends and influencing people along the way.

How should brands win friends and influence people? Let's start with some simple basics.

1. Friends are good listeners.
Do you listen to your audience? What are the problems that you can solve? What are the things important to them? What is it that you can deliver that can make their lives easier, better, more satisfying, more rewarding?
2. Friends are there when you need them.
How is good is your customer relationship management? Do you respond quickly enough? Are you empathetic to their situation?
3. Friends appreciate friends.
Do you recognize loyal patronage? Do you know when they stopped coming and why? Do you make an effort to win them back?"
4. Friends look out for each other.
Are you proactive with your customers or clients? Do you alert them of upcoming events or trends that could affect them positively or negatively? Do you put their friendship over your economic gain to insure their long term business?
5. Friends communicate regularly.
Do you have a formal process of communicating with your customers and clients - soliciting feedback on their continued satisfaction or suggestions; providing updates on new products and services; or welcoming testimonials and recommendations to others?

Winning friends and influencing people is not a daunting task, but it is one that requires commitment and perseverance - and it must start from the top. It's time to take a good, hard look in the mirror and see the reflection of your company to others.

I'm only telling you this as a friend.