Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Brand "You"

Donald Trump, Wolfgang Puck, Oprah Winfrey. Martha Stewart, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer.

Business names, celebrity names, sports names.

"Brand" names.

If, as scholar and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan suggested that "the medium is the message," then advertisers using themselves as the corporate "brand" are the new medium.

Welcome to the September issue of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

I'm a big proponent for promoting my clients in such a way as to trade on their name, their personality, their unique service. Especially In this age of social media, self-produced webinars and videos, podcasts, vanity books (published both online and off) and more.

It's the "brand" in us all that helps to influence consumers who are more likely to "like" us...and therefore more likely to buy.

Here in part is what one observer, writing for marketingprofs.com, has to add:

"Why Being Human Matters in Marketing" by Emily Eldridge


Instinct tells us that "humanizing" a brand—connecting it in the consumer's mind with a distinctive personality or an engaging personal narrative—is a good idea. But we don't have to rely on instinct. Research demonstrates how human interaction affects transactions, with lessons for marketers.

Iris Bohnet and Bruno Frey conducted an economic research study in 1999 called "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games." Two groups of students were recruited to participate in a series of social interactions in which members of the first group had to decide whether to share any portion of a sum of money—approximately $10—with a person in the second group.

When the first group knew nothing at all about those in the second group, participants offered, on average, only 26% of the money. When the moderators asked the second group to stand up—making them less anonymous to the first group—the offer increased to 39%. When the moderators shared personal information about those in the second group with those in the first, the average offer increased to 52%. And when members of the groups were introduced to one another, the average offer was 50%.

In other words, the greater the social distance, the less willing people were to hand over money.

Bohnet and Frey's study also has implications in these promotion-crazed times of Groupon, where consumers know the power of their wallets. They're worried about their own futures. If they can buy something for 95% off, they will.

But a brand that is humanized—with personal narratives, with human interactions—can command a higher price point and make the consumer happier in the process.

For example, Apple stores don't have rows of cashiers. Instead, they have easily identifiable employees throughout the store with mobile cashier platforms ready to interact. They will explain the benefits of each product, help you deal with issues, and share their passion for the products.

People are attracted to Apple because of its sleek products, but sticker shock could be an issue. Cheaper, equally (or more) powerful products are on the market. Yet Apple continues to increase its market share. The reason is that Apple has used Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, and its army of highly passionate employees around the world to humanize its brand. And consumers worldwide have responded.

So think about what you can do to humanize your brand, both online and in-person. No matter how sleek your products, how beautifully designed your store or site, how sophisticated your analytics, people respond to the personal touch.

See you the first Tuesday of next month for a brand new Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

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