In an age where the public has become inundated with mass marketing and ever more distrustful of corporate greed, businesses and brands today face an ongoing challenge: How to earn the trust of their community. Achieving this trust won’t happen with mere lip service—people today are naturally skeptical, and they can spot phoniness and ulterior motives a mile away. If you want to build rapport, trust, and authority as a brand, you have to come by it honestly and altruistically, with a sincere desire to do good. We refer to this as the “first them, then us” approach to community engagement.
“First them, then us” plays out just like it sounds: As a brand, you commit to finding opportunities to help your customers and community in a way that places their needs above the needs of the company. The idea here is that goodwill eventually comes back to you in the form of customer loyalty when you show goodwill without an agenda or expectation. First them. Then us. Let’s look at some examples of how you might implement this approach in your community.
Look for Real Problems You Can Solve
The most successful companies today don’t only look for what sells. Instead, they identify an actual need, then develop a product or service that helps meet that need. In this way, your brand becomes a solution, not just a product—something that genuinely makes people’s lives better. Effective branding will always be customer-centric in its message, reinforcing that your service or product exists to solve a legitimate problem or meet a felt need that the customer has.
Always Add Value
To revisit a key tenet of marketing, consumers aren’t looking for the lowest price; they’re looking for the price’s greatest value. The more value you can bring to your customers and clients, the more you will earn their loyalty and trust. Never be satisfied to provide a good product at a fair price; instead, always be looking for genuine, creative ways to add additional value to your customers—not just asking how to make your product better but also how to make your customers’ lives better in the process. It doesn’t have to be something huge, just something that connects.
A key component of the “first them, then us” philosophy is to find meaningful ways to give back to the community. This idea is covered beautifully in the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. The practice starts with shifting your mindset first, then developing actual tactics when giving. These can include giving to a local charity you care about, sponsoring a community event, offering free classes or workshops. Feel free to use your imagination here—make sure that however you choose to be a go-giver, you do it from the heart.
You’re not a charity—and your customers don’t expect you to be. Business owners have to make a profit to stay in business, and you certainly don’t want to give away the store. But by putting your community’s interests ahead of your own, you’ll ultimately reap more long-term benefits in the form of customer trust and loyalty than you ever would just trying to sell a product. Wicked Bionic can work with you on creative strategies to incorporate genuine community engagement into your branding.