consumers don’t care about your brand. so. give them what they do care about.

Brands are too often consumed with the idea of getting (forcing) consumers to participate in whatever it is they’re trying to get across, whether that be a campaign or an activation of some kind, numbers in a loyalty program, or even a hashtag. But what brands too often fail to realize, is that people really don’t care about your brand and your campaign. Your brand isn’t special. They care about things that matter to them, their lives, their interests, their community.

Sometimes, a brand hits the nail on the head and provides something to them that they do inherently care about, and it fits right in there. For example, you’re a brand of bike, talking to cycling enthusiasts that already love you. Lucky you. But even in that case, it’s a thin line between, “we love you because we love you right now, because we use your bikes” and “oh look what that other bike brand is doing, they’re so cool now I think I’ll get one of their bikes next and love them.”

Don’t get cocky.

Whether you’re a consumer product, a service, a hotel or even sports team – you’re all brands at the end of the day. And consumers are fully aware of that. They might give off the impression that they love you and are “loyal,” but that can change quickly (even with the sports team). The worst thing you can do is take advantage of the fact that consumers have already paid for your product, thinking you can just feed them shitty or generic loyalty and engagement opportunities, or things that again, they really just don’t care about. I call this cocky brand BS.

Make them care.

Use data. Analyze your consumers. Ask them questions. Do research. Figure out what really makes them tick. In their LIVES! Not relating to your product or brand. Come up with some truths and insights. Find ways to intersect those different components that matter, that stem from a place of actual emotion, and the participation and engagement from those consumers will be from a place of passion and meaning – not from a goal of clicks, views, loyalty points, or even times a hashtag was used.

A great example from Pringles – with their “Flavor Slam” backboard partnership with Dude Perfect. They made it about their consumers, about Dude Perfect, hell – they made it about ping pong balls. You what it’s not about? Their chips. But you know what happened? They generated almost 4 Million video views, over 140 Million impressions and grew sales 22%. Why? Because it was about and for their consumers – not about themselves. That’s how you create real engagement for a brand. Again, your brand isn’t special – you have to give them a reason to care and to want to participate.

If you’re simply going for some numbers and shiny objects, run a sweepstakes.

If you’re aiming for longer-term loyalists, use your brand as a facilitator of something that actually matters to your consumers. It doesn’t even have to inherently be about your products or services (scary though, I know). Instead of making it all about you and your brand and products, make it about the consumer and what drives them. Easier said than done, but why would you settle?

The myth here is that consumers actually love brands. Can they? Maybe? But typically, no, they don’t. A brand is powerful when someone switches over to that loyalty because of a connection that matters and adds value to their lives. That’s when you set yourself apart from the competition. Why do you think so many brands attach themselves to a cause marketing initiative or try to tug on the heartstrings in their advertising? Or want to create the next Ice Bucket Challenge? It’s because they want to affect the lives of their consumers through things that actually matter to them (EMOTION). It’s the biggest win a brand can have with marketing. It moves you from their heads to their hearts.

And beyond the heart, you get your long-term, actually meaningful loyalist.

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