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Who Are You, And Why Are You Talking to Me? | Brand Building

From 10 inches away, his eyes looked even more bug-eyed. “DID YOU KNOW IN 1916 HARRY COVELESKI SET A RECORD FOR THE MOST HITS BY A PITCHER ON OPENING DAY?”

I eased backward to give myself a little personal space. He followed, braying “HE PLAYED FOR THE TIGERS, THEY BEAT THE WHITE SOX 4-0 THAT DAY.”

Giving up all semblance of manners, I turned and fled.

What does this (mostly true) story have to do with marketing your product? We’ve all been at parties with loud talkers, close talkers, boring talkers… and those who seem to stand head and shoulders above the rest as excellent conversational companions, offering just the right amount and kind of communication, whether it be funny, educational, mysterious, kind, or (in a good way) dramatic.

This is exactly the universe we are dealing with when it comes to brands and their communications. Who doesn’t remember Billy Mays shouting at us to buy more Oxiclean? Obviously that tactic worked enough that they stuck with it, but to this day I will go out of my to avoid buying that product because they annoyed the hell out of me for so many years.

This brand is not one you want to be stuck having a beer with.

shutterstock_138799856All brands start out as strangers to us. We catch a glimpse of something attractive (a nice logo on a banner) and it goes in one brain cell and out the other. Faced with 500 ad messages a day in the 1970s, 5000 in the mid-2000s, and heaven only knows how many now… it takes time and many, many exposures to the name and logo to be absorbed. When we do, we call that AWARENESS of the brand (that’s a highly technical term, really) and it’s largely a function of your media and content creation budget. (e.g. a function of quantity ). But as a brand, you don’t have permission to engage with me, not yet. If you do, you risk being ignored or driving me away.

The next thing you have to do is grab my INTEREST, which is a function of how great your creative messaging is in advertising, social media, content creation, and trade show backdrops (e.g. a function of quality). Say something clever, witty, dramatic, interesting, funny. Do something different, but something different that is relevant. (There’s even an acronym for Interest, REMUS. Be Relevant, Engaging, Memorable, Unexpected, Simple.) Do Interest correctly, and I, the consumer, will come to you, you will not have to chase me down or bray statistics 10 inches from my face. Now the brand is in the power seat. I’ve come to you, I’m asking you out, see?

Now that we’re getting to know each other, you, the brand, need to develop my PREFERENCE for you, which is salesperson pitches, brochures, websites, and content creation (and again a function of quality). Facts, figures, detailed information… divulge just what you need to get my eyes to light up with the intent to purchase. I may or may not be able to afford you right this second, or the timing may be off in another way, but you’ve lit the flame of acquisition in my consumerist little heart. Keep in front of me in a consistent, engaging way, and you’ll eventually get my money.

So some time later, I then go to PURCHASE the product, which is both a quality and quantity function, as you need adequate distribution/availability, and those retail centers (including e-commerce sites) need to make buying simple and a pleasure. In terms of timing, if you cost $20, I probably pulled the trigger 30 seconds after deciding to buy. If you cost $500 and you made your case I needed you, this probably happened a couple-three months later. If you cost $50,000, then it’s been at least a year, probably several, sometimes many years, depending on my needs and financing. (Plus I need to get to know you a bit before plunking that kind of money down.) But eventually, I have come to you wanting to buy. Just make sure your buying process is easy, the people are polite, the transaction is clearly delineated, and I’ve now become your customer.


Snippets of branding done for Horse Quencher, delineated by the ladder rungs Awareness-Interest-Preference-Purchase.

Now you’ve got me, it’s time to make the most of the relationship via RESELL. A couple of truths here on brand building: the cheapest customer to obtain is the one you already have (so keep me happy), the best new customer is the one who came as a referral from a friend (so keep me really, really happy so I refer people to you). Invest in a fantastic database, and even better people, as you never want to lose the personal touch. People do business with people they like, and it’s possible to keep that connection even via your email program, your software… even maybe, your auto-attendant (if one is absolutely necessary due to your size). Keep the personal touch so they’re friends with you, the brand. (Southwest Airlines is the master of this.)

What brands are on your bug-eyed loud talker list? What brands do you admire, and why?

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