Customer HerdEvery brand has multiple tribes: your target market, your clients, your employees or your vendors, all of them work with you and follow you for a set of reasons. I spend a lot of time working with companies developing an understanding of just who their tribes are, how to communicate with them, and how to grow these multiple tribes.

Loyal tribe members are often referred to as having brand loyalty. What is critical to understand is they will not be loyal to you because you paid them, twisted their arm, forced them to do business with you, or conned them into doing business with you by flaunting a ridiculously low price. True loyalty is established when you consistently do what you say you are going to do, when you stay relevant to the customers of today, and have a proven track record of listening to them, responding to them appropriately and consistently, and implementing or creating the solutions that are of value to them.

Do you see the difference? One is proactive and agile, while the other is pushy and usually perceived as offensive. Your clients, like you, do not want to feel like they have been “sold”. They want to be included in the discussion. They want to feel like their voice matters. When customers feel sincerely included, true brand loyalty develops. Your tribe will be much more forgiving to “a bad day” and their words will sell your products or services faster than any campaign you could possibly create!

A friend of mine, Mark LeBlanc, founder of Small Business Success said it best with this comment, “Is it just me or do any of you mind being, “Monetized?” I keep reading emails and advertisements online for programs on how to monetize your tribe or build your herd. These impersonal emails with all kinds of irresistible offers that I simply cannot refuse. I don’t want to be a part of your herd or tribe. If you have something of value that I might be interested in, take the time to call me, write to me or get to know me. But, do not suggest you care via impersonal emails written by internet marketing gurus pretending to know what will serve the best of what I need and want. If I am a part of your community or membership, I am there because I want to be part of something special and of value. I do not want to be, monetized!”

Frankly, if you are looking at your tribe or your community as a “herd” then your brand has bigger problems! People are not animals that need to be “fenced in” so they don’t run off to one of your competitors at the first opportunity, and treating or even thinking of them as such will only back fire on the credibility and success of your brand. Develop a sense of community. Build your brand as a place where your customers feel they have a voice, and that you sincerely care that your product or service is of use to them. Treat them as you would like to be treated. After all, how would you feel if all someone wanted to do was “monetize” you?

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