You Get as Good as You Give

Once you have a clearly identified your brand persona, the next step in the process of attracting and retaining customers is establishing a two-way line of communication.

Before the internet, this was almost impossible. You could reach your customers through one-way advertising, but they couldn’t reach you. Now, the tables are not only turned, they are fitted with a “lazy susan”.

The best part about the continuous-cycle marketing approach is that, while it takes some regular care and feeding, it does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. Most of all, you can rely on your best customers and brand fans to recirculate your brand message too. The more “fans” you find, the more “likes” you garner, the bigger your marketing machine.

Start by establishing your business presence in as many social networks as you can comfortably manage. It is more important to be present where your customers are than expect them to seek you out in just one venue like your website.

To understand the social media flow, think of niche networks like Pinterest, DIGG, and Twitter as “feeders” to your website. For many businesses, their Facebook business page is their website, for others it is another “feeder” to a dedicated website.

But do you have to spend hours every day managing all these networks? Absolutely not. There are all types of tools to help you manage multiple platforms. Free social media dashboards like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite (my favorite) make it possible for you to schedule your messages and broadcast them to all social networks with the click of a button. Bottom line, you really can be in more than one place at a time.

Now that you’ve established a presence, make it simple for customers to join in the conversation about your brand. Put social media buttons up front where they will be easy to find and use – give them the opportunity to tweet your story, to “like” you on Facebook, to share your story with their Google+ circles.

Most importantly, there is a huge benefit from all this cross-talk. You are building brand loyalty by showing customer loyalty. Nothing generates better goodwill. Ask for opinions, open the dialogue and suddenly you have customers who feel attached to your brand in ways that no simple store visit can generate.

Two-way communication is always about give and take. The goal is to build a better relationship with your customers. And the new social media tools available now to everyone make it incredibly easy to do. Learn a bundle from listening. Share “inside” stories. Offer special discounts. In no time, you will start to build an army of brand advocates and influencers out of repeat customers. And you can trust that they’ll keep the message spinning.

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