Truth: To some extent, every one of your customers is unique

Myth: You have one brand

The art of branding in our complex marketplace, where savvy customers assert  their individual uniqueness, is not just about market positioning.  It is about connecting with individuals.

Simply put, your branding and marketing strategy needs to focus less on “getting the word out” and more on personalizing your story for individual customers.  Each customer has his own personal reasons for wanting to do business with you, and your strategy should be to identify those personal reasons and craft your brand story to fit them.

Some readers may be wondering, “But how do I personalize my brand story if my marketing depends on mass communications, like our website, social media posts, advertising and direct marketing?”

Mass communications are a necessary part of many marketing efforts, but we need to recognize that every time we send the same message to more than one person we are inherently diluting the message that each customer hears. Mass marketing is not a convenience, it is a compromise.

Fortunately, most of my subscribers work for companies who are not primarily mass marketers. You (like most companies in the world) need relatively few customers to thrive, and one-on-one human contact between your customers and your customer-facing employees is the most powerful, and most prevalent, way your brand story is communicated.

What an advantage you have over Nike, Kraft and Samsung!  Your strategy is to take advantage of this fortunate situation and personalize the story each customer hears from you.

If your company needs to use mass communications in order to reach a large number of customers, your strategy should be to look for opportunities to complement those mass communications with personalized communications.  For example, let’s say you sell meetings and conventions for a worldwide hotel chain that has strong brand awareness and a multi-million dollar television ad campaign. When a prospective customer shows up to see your property as a potential site for an upcoming meeting, your goal is not to “show” the hotel. It is to discover, through conversation, a way to communicate a personalized version of your brand story that will make this customer say, “This is the only place I can imagine having our meeting.”

Branding happens one customer at a time because every customer has her own reasons for buying from you, and because every customer has the power to create her own personal beliefs about you. Recognize this. Embrace it as the foundation of your marketing and sales strategy. See your mass communications as the background, not the foreground, of your branding efforts.

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