Brand Building

The Social Landscape of the Internet Is Circular

Let's take a look at history.

The history of the Internet.

And the history of the gathering of people.

Don't worry. I'll keep it short.

Before the internet people used to meet in person. And they did it in proximity to one another. Or they went to great lengths to meet in person with other people from far away lands using planes, trains, and automobiles. This was reserved for the most important stuff like family, business, or special events.

Then the internet came along. People talked to each other online. They met online. This allowed them to "meet" people without restrictions like proximity or travel.

And they did it with people of similar interest. They used tools like Meetup and Ning. They used email. They used MySpace and later Facebook.

They built tribes. Tribes around interests, hobbies, and learning.

Tribes had leaders who were passionate about their topic as much as they were passionate about the people in their tribes.

But something's happened. There's been a change.

In Houston we're seeing some really interesting things come out of face to face meetings and networking events. It's around startups or businesses. There are tons of meetings happening weekly.

When was the last time you logged onto Meetup? It's amazing.

Your business is likely seeing a paradigm shift that has it's roots in this full circle movement.

I believe it's because we all want to feel even more connected. Which is kinda crazy if you think about it. I mean, I have access to hundreds of thousands of people simply by logging onto Twitter. Yet I too crave the in person meetings.

I want to know that there's a real person behind the brand. And I'm not alone. It's highly likely you do as well.

Your customers want that. They want to know that you're not talking to the masses. You're talking to them. Individually.

They want to shop local. Artisan bakeries, hand-crafted goods, tailored services. All of these things are coming back, especially in urban areas, because people want authenticity.

It's full circle. We were excited about the anonymity of the web. Then the reach. But it's too impresonal. And people are feeling that.

They want to have real experiences.

Your brand can give it to them.

Utilize local SEO to enhance your local tribe. Utilize social media to talk to the most passionate people in your niche.

Use a voice that encompasses emotionally-intelligent content to teach and entertain them.

When you can do those things you've helped ensure that you have just as strong a local tribe as a global tribe. And with that, you can move the world.

Not Everyone Is Your Customer And Why That's Better Than Okay

There's a problem that most entrepreneurs face every day.

"How do I get more customers?"


"How do I get my company in front of the right people?"

Same coin. Different sides.

There are variances of course. But for the most part you're all looking for an audience.

In the past, someone would likely advise you to advertise to a large audience in T.V. in the "right time slot" or a "good demographic". Perhaps it was placing an ad in the yellow pages or the newspaper.

But you can't do that anymore and expect great results. Because those mediums speak to the masses. And your product or service doesn't.

No matter what you think or what anybody's told you NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR CUSTOMER.

I repeat this because it's important.

Your product, your service, your business isn't for everyone.

And that's okay. In fact, it's better than okay. It's perfect.

Because when you try to please everyone you please no one. Not even Wal-Mart markets to everyone. Neither does Coca-Cola. Looking for smaller examples? Fine. Paypal doesn't do it. Neither does Square. Or Starbucks. Or Whole Foods. Or Bob's Better Burger. Sprinkles.

Think of your favorite product. Their parent company doesn't market to everyone. They market to you.


That's the key. We, as a people, are a different breed of consumers and our attention is all over the place.

The value of popularity is changing. Niche is in. Small is the new big.

The nerds and geeks now rule the world. What ever happened to the prom queen? Who cares?

The beauty of realizing that you have a niche business with a specific audience is that you're much closer to realizing a better return on your money when you put it towards targeted marketing.

Wouldn't you rather invest $5000 to a highly targeted audience who is already part of the conversation around your product than to throw that money on an ad where they give you vague demographics?

That's where smart targeting comes in. That's where engaging online, in social media, on niche websites, and creating content tailored to that audience comes in.

Content marketing. Engagement marketing. Social Media marketing. It all points back to ensuring that the people who are interested in your business can find you. Your product has a place in the larger picture of the audience online.

I bring this up because I run into startup founders or small business owners who still don't fully understand.

One of the first questions I ask during a meeting is "Who is your product/service/business for?" or some similar question that helps me locate their niche.

Too many times I run into the answer "Everyone".

Or maybe they've whittled it down a tiny bit. "Everyone who uses ______" or "People who live in ______".

But that's not small enough. It doesn't help to think that your product has to be popular with the masses.

It only has to be popular in your small niche. Then you have the chance to be the authority of that niche. You can control the conversation around that topic. Your business becomes synonymous with that engaged and passionate community.

That's how today's small businesses thrive. That's how today's startups get their fist 10,000 customers. By going hard after their niche. But doing it in a way that engages with humanity and empathy.

Boil down who your product is really for. You can't be everything to everyone.

Find Ways to Bring New People Into Your Tribe

How many tribes do your customers belong to?

Your customers love art. They love photography.

They also, most likely, love other things that are closely related to both of those interests.

Perhaps they love knitting or watching independent films.

There's a ton of information that can be gleaned from analytics from your website or from looking at someone's Facebook profile. Can you find the other interests that tie into what your target audience is interested in by looking at your current audience?

Do those other interests include tribes of people who are passionate about art as well?

Consider co-branding efforts. Contact another industry to see where you can cross promote each other. Find ways to expand both of your audience base but remember to do so in a win-win situation.

People crave tribes. They crave the new. They love to be involved in something bigger than themselves.

Something that's moving forward.

Tribes need leaders.

When you lead a tribe your building your brand. 

One-to-one Marketing and Building Raving Fans

Do you remember the last time someone held a door for you? Or gave you their cab because it was raining and you didn't have an umbrella but they did?

In today's age we can often become jaded. We think that people don't do these things anymore but they do. And they do it all the time. We get hit by one of these gestures and it sticks out because, even though there are some really amazing people all around the world, they aren't everywhere.

Or are they?

It's the same with companies. Do you remember the last time you went to a store and the clerk greeted you with a friendly smile and asked how they could help you? I mean genuinely help you?

When those things happen they stick out. We remember them and we think about the culture of the company and we put it in our minds that we will shop there more often. We'll visit that restaurant where the manager goes by every table more often. We'll go to the art gallery where they talk to you and greet you no matter how much money you look like you may have.

These are all "real world" situations and scenarios that can be replicated online.

You can, and very much should, do these same things online.

Because when you can connect with your current, and potential customers and clients, on a level that exceeds their expectations you begin to build a relationship on trust. You begin to build a relationship based on what you can do for your clients not on what they can buy from you.

And you build clients for life.

They remember you. They like you. They believe in you.

This trust begins to build into something much more. It begins to build into a relationship where they start to root for you. They want to support your business and your brand -- your culture -- becomes part of their buying decisions.

This is one-to-one marketing. This is that personal touch that we all crave in the online world where everything else can seem like push marketing.

Look at your digital marketing campaigns. Do they reach people on an individual basis? Are you having a conversation with them or are you just shouting "look at me, look at me!"?

Getting your product or service in front of the people who are going to become lifetime customers can be done on a one-to-one basis online. And it can be done in a way that reaches the masses at the same time. You can spread the concept of your company culture. You can build brand awareness by listening to your customers.

Stillspotting NYC Bronx Audiogram 3rd Show (102 of 118)

Stillspotting NYC Bronx Audiogram 3rd Show (102 of 118) by Ennuipoet * FreeVerse Photography - CC

Remember that they have given you that privilege when they sign up for your newsletter. Or when they like your Facebook page. When they've raised their hands and said "Hi, I'm a fan" then you have the ability to nurture the relationship and build on that.

You can turn them into raving fanatics about your company and they will spread the message of your culture.