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American businesses spend between 8% and 10% of their revenue on different types of marketing every year. Marketing is a significant expense, and one of the most important investments business owners can make in developing the brand. Optimizing your marketing budget’s impact on the company’s bottom line is critical to maximizing that investment.
One of the most effective ways to increase the impact of marketing activities across the board is to humanize your brand to create stronger connections with customers. In this area, small businesses have an advantage over larger brands.
What humanizing your brand means and why it matters
Humans are social creatures. We like to connect to other humans and form relationships in our personal and professional lives. This desire for connection does not stop when customers choose where to shop, or investors decide which businesses to back.
Relationship building with customers is one of the keys to growing a brand successfully and sustainably. Customer loyalty and engagement are all based on that initial connection and relationship between a consumer and a company.
However, most people view brands as entities rather than personalities, which can create a barrier between customers and the company. Humanizing your brand is one of the most effective ways of breaking down that barrier. Humanizing helps make businesses more personable and relatable without compromising professionalism.
As a result, companies become more recognizable and memorable, which is especially important in crowded industries. Faceless brands are easier to forget in favor of others that left a positive impression and managed to connect to consumers at a deeper level.
How small businesses can humanize their brand
Humanizing a brand allows customers to feel like they are dealing with another person rather than an anonymous business. A company’s communication style is one of the keys to achieving this transformation from a faceless business to a relatable brand. Highlighting a brand’s services also contributes to humanizing a brand.
Small businesses have an advantage in this respect. Because many have recognizable founders and a limited number of team members, they often find it easier to deliver that personal experience. Despite that advantage, small business owners need to recognize that a personable brand needs to be cultivated in each communication to create meaningful connections with target audiences.
So, how do small businesses start humanizing their brand? Here are five strategies business owners can implement today.
1. Choose a brand voice
How your business ‘talks’ to potential and existing customers is perhaps the most critical aspect of humanizing your brand. Too many small business owners make the mistake of adopting business jargon to sound professional. Rather than conveying professionalism, jargon artificially creates a distance between small businesses and customers.
The most powerful advice for humanizing your brand is to address customers in the way you would like to be addressed by your business. Friendly, relatable communications greatly impact the relationships your small business builds with customers. There is simply no need for added formality.
2. Let audiences look behind the scenes
Humans are naturally curious, and allowing your target audience to look behind the scenes of your business is another great way of connecting with them. For example, if your small business is a restaurant, café, or bakery, you could show clients how some of your products are produced. If you are manufacturing something, you may be able to share part of your process.
Introducing your team members to potential customers is another great option. By allowing customers to get to know the people behind the brand before they set foot through your doors or send an email inquiry, you are already laying the foundations of a long-lasting relationship.
3. Increase transparency by admitting mistakes
Every business makes mistakes. These things happen to large and small businesses, whether it is a mistaken order in a restaurant or a badly written social media post.
Attempting to brush them under the carpet rarely works. Admitting mistakes and telling customers what your business is doing to avoid repeating them is a far better approach. Talking about what led to the mistake in the first place increases transparency in your communications.
Customers value transparency, and your business benefits by building trust and credibility.
4. Build social media relationships
Social media networks started as a way to connect with friends and family. Since their inception, these platforms have also become powerful marketing tools. Even so, social media marketing never lost its focus on human-to-human connections.
Small business social media posts work best when they read or sound like someone talking to another person. There is no need for overly formal language. After all, your business wants to connect to social media users directly.
5. Choose a cause to support
Consumers are looking for brands to do more than sell products and services. Small businesses with a purpose beyond generating revenue tend to stand out from their competitors.
By finding a cause to support, perhaps with a percentage of the company’s earnings, small businesses can show that they care for their community, their employees and, of course, the company’s bottom line.
Humanizing a small business brand maximizes the impact of all other marketing measures for small businesses. Because of their limited size, small businesses have an advantage over larger corporations in this respect, as the companies tend to be more closely associated with their owners or key staff. Optimizing the company’s brand voice, allowing audiences to look behind the scenes, owning mistakes, building social media relationships, and supporting a worthy cause all help to humanize your small business brand even further.