Who Is the Human Face Behind Your Business?

I recently spoke with a marketer who had a real problem. His company was facing a bit of a backlash from clients who felt it offered an impersonal service. The problem was twofold: As the only supplier of a service many people considered essential in the region, the company was often perceived (incorrectly) as a monopoly. And as a corporate entity, it was pretty much faceless. Don’t get me wrong, its branding was highly recognizable – it’s just that people associated it more with their monthly bill than with any service.

The company didn’t have a human face, and as a result, it wasn’t very likeable.

When people engage with your business, who do they think about?

The fact is, people buy from people they like, and many brands are only as strong as the people who lead them.

Could you imagine Amazon without Jeff Bezos, Facebook without Mark Zuckerberg or Virgin without Richard Branson? Then think about what happens to many companies when their public-facing leaders step aside. Microsoft has weathered a few storms since Bill Gates stepped to the side to concentrate on his philanthropic work (for which he deserves so much credit), and Apple, although still very powerful, does not appear to pack the same punch as it did when the late Steve Jobs was at its helm.

And it is not just mega-sized businesses that thrive by incorporating a little personality into their brands. In fact, you could argue that the smaller the business, the more important it is to develop a personal brand.

For example, a restaurant’s reputation, no matter how well known the establishment, can live and die on the perception of its head chef. Hotels become homes away from home when the proprietors greet their guests and are on first-name terms.

6 Tips for Adding a Little Personality to Your Brand

  1. Use Photos, Not Logos: Never hide your face behind a corporate logo on a social network like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. People want to do business with someone they can identify with, not make friends with a faceless entity.
  2. Encourage Your Team to Socialize Your Message: Having a number of recognizable faces regularly promoting your brand will enhance your reputation as a business that puts people first. Having multiple “public faces” also reduces risk if a team member leaves your organization.
  3. Humanize Your Email Marketing: Personalize your email marketing campaigns by including real photos of your staff and ending your messages with a signature. Email isn’t just a broadcast tool, so never send via a “No-Reply” address.
  4. Personalize Your Website: Even the big guys do this. Every time Amazon releases a new Kindle device, Jeff Bezos positions himself on the Amazon home page, delivering a personal message to his site visitors. How could you make your website more friendly?
  5. Network in the Real World: Even in this digital age, nothing beats doing a little face-to-face business. It’s too easy to hide behind a computer screen and/or telephone, and real-world interactions make the difference between you and your competitors personal. Networking events are a great opportunity to meet clients, prospects, potential partners and the media.
  6. Speak English: Never hide behind jargon or industry buzzwords. You can humanize your message considerably by ensuring you explain things clearly and concisely and in plain English.

This post first appeared on the  iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Join John W. Hayes at The Content Marketing Boot Camp in Bristol on November 28, 2013 and Edinburgh on January 16, 2014.

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