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This Valentine’s Day, turn “the first date” with your consumer into a relationship
Posted by
Robert Jameson at 08:00

The need to love and be loved in return is a fundamental and universal human need - and satisfying this need is the foundation for any successful relationship. For brands to succeed, they need to form real relationships with consumers too. For some this may come naturally, but for others it can be daunting, difficult and often disastrous. It may be a comfort to know that dating tips can help.

In today's age brands need to actively go looking for their consumers. Marketers need to wake up to the fact that the first to offer a consumer "whatever it is they are looking for", is going to be the first to win the consumer's heart. In a world where consumers have more choice than ever, and can date whoever they want, how does your brand ensure it is more than a one-night stand?

Make sure you look your best; first impressions last: 

Wrigley's UK based chewing gum brand 5Gum launched in South Africa early last year, and made a phenomenal first impression. The unsuspecting Melrose Arch shoppers got a taste of the first ever user generated 3D projection mapping display. The 5Gum experience still lives on today, and has generated much excitement within the market. 5Gum's first impression helped the brand ease its way into the hearts and minds of South African consumers, and has allowed the once unfamiliar brand to form equitable, memorable and profitable relationships in a competitive market.

- Remember, it takes a little effort, but always look your best.

Be a good listener; people love talking: 

Often the biggest mistake people make when trying to impress someone on his or her first date is talking too much. What they should be doing is listening. Once you have heard what your prospective "soul mate" has said, only then is it the right time to do some talking of your own. When you know where they are coming from, and what they really want, you are able to use this insight to put your best foot forward and truly impress.

A brand who has done this exceptionally well is Ben & Jerry's, a brand that is constantly aware of who their consumers are and what is happening within their environment. Through this customer understanding Ben & Jerry's have been able to put their best food forward and launch new flavours of ice cream that not only taste great but have relevance and appeal to their target markets. For example, in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, Ben & Jerry's ice cream Oh! My! Apple Pie! was renamed to Apple-y Ever After. This simple name change was a simple way to make the brand that much more relevant to its consumers and has enjoyed enormous success.

Remember, knowing your date is a vegetarian would have helped, before you made reservations at the steak house down the road.

Be yourself 

There is something about you that your date already likes - or they would not be on the date in the first place. There is no need to pretend to be anything different. It is about knowing who you are, and how to leverage it, not how to change it.

The quirky sweets brand Skittles has been able to do this particularly well. They have been able to harness the randomness of the Skittles brand to create some of the most admirable brand advocacy seen on social media to date. Through their "Touch the rainbow" campaign that integrates all major social media platforms they have been able to drive conversation, forge and maintain relationships, all in their very own skittles style. Their Facebook page having over 23 000 000 "likes" is testament enough that it pays to be different.

- Remember, your consumers can't know if you're right for them if you don't let them see who you are.

Don't act needy; you may come across as desperate:

It is almost impossible not to act needy when you so desperately want "what you want". But it is important to show your interest while not giving away too much. Many brands have fallen into the trap with their cheezie Txt msg tlk nd gr8 ads th@ activ8 consumers to think they are lame, all in a desperate attempt to connect with the youth. Or those brands that send you a thousand requests for feedback over email, SMS and twitter.

Remember, if you're begging someone to like you, they probably don't.

Marketers need to realise that forming brand relationships with consumers takes time, effort, dedication and perseverance; it is no different from their very own personal relationships. Rethink the traditional ways of approaching consumers and consider new exciting ways to make the "first date" with your consumer their last "first date!"

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