Commodity products are boring – it’s the nature of the beast. Credit cards, soap, drugstores, and lens outlets all suffer the same problem. They don’t have a very exciting brand. How much can you say about something that people hardly give any thought to in their daily lives. Sure, everyone uses soap (hopefully), but what kind of hip new things can a company say about it that haven’t already been said on the box? It’s sort of self-explanatory, after all. If you have a product like this, what you need is personality.
Open a Social Media Account
Social media is great for exactly one thing: creating and cultivating a personality online. For businesses, it’s not about making friends. It’s not even about making sales – though you should never turn down a potential customer if they really want to buy from you through Facebook.
No, it’s about building an online persona. When you’re doing business the traditional way, all people see is an empty, faceless, unemotional corporation. It’s rather stiff, and it doesn’t really give you any way to connect with users online. The Internet has become a lot more social. That means you need to follow suit if you want to market through this medium. Using social media to engage customers has propelled upstarts into leaders in their niche, such as www.lenstore.co.uk who moved into 10th place in Virgin’s Fast Track 100 for 2012.
Spice Up The Blog
Corporate blogs tend to be a little stuffy. That’s bad. You don’t want your brand to come off as being just another company. If your blog has a very conservative look and feel to it, try redesigning it. The company’s blog isn’t about making sales. It’s not about PR. It’s where your company connects with individuals. The more friendly-looking you make it, the better.
You don’t have to abandon your main site’s theme either. Just simplify any “corporate look” and make it look like “the break room” where people can come and be themselves.
Write In The First-Person
When you talk to people on the street, do you speak in the third-person? No. So, why do you write that way on your blog? Using the first person on your blog makes it very personal. It’s almost like you’re inviting people over to your home – you loosen up your tie and you have a real conversation. No corporate-speak. No gimmicks.
Have A Face
Blogs, and websites in general, make it easy to pin a face to an author. For social media, this means posting up pictures of the officers and content producers or curators. On the blog, it means using graphics to display the author’s portrait shot with every post (and even in the comment section).
Rather than “looking small” or amateurish, you’ll end up looking personable, approachable. People tend to be a little hesitant about doing business with other people over the Internet. Even though there are many established businesses, and there’s a sense of legitimacy online, many older people (even middle-aged) are still afraid of handing over credit card information to a faceless company – it’s easy to set up shop online and scam people.
It’s hard to have a good personality and build trust. Take the harder road in the short-term, and you’ll probably find that sales become a lot easier over the long-term.
Tony McLain is a brand consultant. He frequently shares his best tips on how to boost a brand image on small business blogs.