At my agency we’ve developed a philosophy and approach we call the “Brand Embrace.” The term describes the sum total of all the digital relationships that organizations can create with their prospects and customers. In a brand embrace, a company uses all its marketing efforts to truly connect with their target audience in a lasting way to leverage the multiple points of contact consumers access in their daily lives. It identifies and capitalizes on every potential point of connection companies can create with their target consumers and customers and leverages those connections with timely and valuable engagement. It brings together all forms of digital (search, display, social, email, marketing automation, CRM, tracking, and reporting) into a single synergistic platform. A well-executed brand embrace strategy turns prospects into customers, customers into brand loyalists, and loyalists into advocates.
The Social Media Brand Embrace
Clearly social media marketing is, and will increasingly be, central to companies creating a comprehensive brand embrace platform. In most ways, it already is; it hasn’t just been defined as the brand embrace. Why are companies who are engaged in social media marketing zealously working to acquire friends, fans, and followers? Because they’re trying to make lasting connections – they’re trying to create a brand embrace. The key, though, is to look at social connections as a gateway to more intimate and solid connections. Now, you may say this is obvious – but how often is it done? How often do you weave calls to action into your social and digital communications that cross-sell brand embrace connections? Fans to email subscribers, site visitors to fans, Twitter followers to LinkedIn followers, email subscribers to Facebook fans, etc.
Adopting the Brand Embrace Philosophy
To create and sustain a true brand embrace requires a shift in the focus of an organization’s offline and online marketing efforts. It’s not just about branding and impressions anymore – it’s about connecting and engaging, or embracing. It means changing the goals of marketing from “reaching and communicating with our target audience” to “reaching and embracing our target audience.” In other words, it constantly asks, “How do we create a brand embrace?” Then, with a brand embrace we create stronger consumer connections via the first engagement when the bond was created – it provides for sustained communications and engagement. It complements reach and frequency.
Brand Embrace Tactics
How do you engage prospects and customers in a brand embrace? Here are a few tips and tactics:
- Setting cookies for insightful tracking and reporting to reveal true insight into what your target consumers and customers care about.
- Setting retargeting cookies that, when combined with search and other forms of advertising, access the critical moment when a consumer is interested in what you’re selling and enables you to stay with them during their purchase consideration phase.
- Utilizing retargeting to increase contact frequency with your current customers to keep your brand top-of-mind during their purchase consideration phase and deepen the relationship you have with your customers to escalate them to repeat buyers and brand advocates.
- Encouraging all forms of social connections including converting your prospects and customers into Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Pinterest followers, LinkedIn followers, and more.
- Making sure you have strong incentives that make prospects and consumers want to connect with you.
- Creating and publishing valuable and engaging social content that educates, enthralls, delights, and encourages high-value and high-ROI behavior.
- Escalating social connections to email subscribers and connecting them to marketing automation and CRM cookie data and vice versa – getting your email list to connect with you socially.
- Collecting real-world data and information including survey data and physical snail mail addresses.
- Implementing marketing automation programs and technologies (Eloqua, Aprimo, Marketo, etc.) that utilize cookies, tracking data, email databases, and CRM data to drive truly personalized, timely, and relevant email and direct mail communications.
- Realizing that creating a sizable platform of consumer/prospect connections takes time but once developed and integrated can be one of the most valuable assets an organization has!
Is the Brand Embrace Annoying? No, It’s Mostly Opt-In
If done correctly (or politely), the brand embrace isn’t annoying. In fact, the idea is to make the ongoing engagement that the full brand embrace facilitates valuable.
The key is to remember these facts:
- Most connections in the brand embrace (besides retargeting via online media) are opt-in. You must voluntarily connect with various social properties (likes, follows, etc.) and opt in to an email list. The trick is to tell people why they should opt in and what they will get out of the deal.
- Make sure the ongoing communications pushed through the brand embrace are valuable, useful, entertaining, and engaging. These are people who may already know you or use your products – think, “How can I help or entertain the people who I am connected with?” Remember – most consumers utilize social because it’s fun or they’re networking professionally in some way – so entertain and help them!
- Chances are you won’t overwhelm the people you’re connected with since they won’t see all your Facebook updates, tweets, and other social posts as they happen, nor will they see all your emails. But don’t overdo it either – be polite, be valuable, and chances are your multi-pronged approach will hit consumers just enough for you to rise above the clutter to maintain a relationship.
The Result of the Brand Embrace
The end result of the brand embrace is a powerful platform that ties all your marketing and advertising efforts together. It creates a mass marketing asset that bypasses media gatekeepers (the media and vendor organizations that charge you to reach your target audience) to build your brand, drive leads, drive retail traffic, and, of course, drive sales.