Be the face of your brand. Your customers do want to learn about you as a person, so they make a real connection. Sure, you want them to like your brand, but you want them to fall in love with you.
Richard Branson does this best. He's intimately connected with the Virgin brand, and his personality drives the brand. If Branson wrote a blog, you could believe he was writing it himself, couldn't you? Can you think of any CEO of a large organization who has that sort of personal credibility? Heck, can you even think of any other CEO of a large organization at all who does anything for their brand apart from the occasional media statement?
All the new Internet tools are personal tools: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, MySpace. They're designed to show a personality - your personality. They're powerful marketing tools, but they shouldn't be used only for marketing your business. They're just as important for marketing you.
Amazon.com, Apple and Facebook are brands in their own right, so they don't need Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg to show up on their Web sites. But your Web site is different. Your face is your brand, so show it! For example:
- Write in a friendly, informal manner.
- Show your photo on your home page.
- Publish your e-mail address.
- Tell people how to follow you (you, not your business) on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Publish a blog to share your thoughts.
That's why it's rare to see a large organization using these new Internet marketing tools well. Imagine a big bank asking its customers to follow them on Twitter. Even if they convinced us it's not a cynical marketing exercise that's just paying lip service to the new technology, how would it work?
- Would it be the bank's CEO sending the Twitter messages?
- Would they respond to customer complaints?
- Would they take up an issue on your behalf and get it resolved?
- Would they be allowed to criticize the bank?
- Would they engage in real conversations (as opposed to corporate speak)?
- Would they truly engage with individuals (as opposed to just sending marketing messages)?
This is not about you knowing what football team they support or where their kids go to school. You might know that, and some salespeople are taught to connect with their customers at that level. But this is the other way around: You're giving them an insight into you, which is a completely different thing altogether.
If you're uncomfortable with that, get over it! You shouldn't share every aspect of your personal life with your customers. And you should definitely think about your privacy and security when you choose to share with people outside your family and close friends. But be willing to show a bit of personality, so they can connect with you as a person.