You’re a good person. I’m a good person.
But how do we know that about one another?
How can you build trust across the virtual divide that separates us?
If you can’t reliably connect with the prospects you want to reach, you don’t have much hope of building a profitable online business.
Over the years when I’ve met readers for the first time, they’ve said, “I feel like I know you!”
That reaction happens because somehow my work through my online business and this website has connected with them.
Genuine connection in the virtual environment takes time. It’s not simple or easy.
But it’s a worthy goal.
Here’s how to make community connection happen …
1. Use a people-first approach
Business is all about profit. I get it.
But you know what? Profit comes from people — relationships with people.
That’s why I believe that for your business to succeed, you must think about people first. It’s important to be crystal clear about:
- Who you want to serve
- How you want to serve them
- What you’ll offer to help them meet their challenges
If you start from a place of genuine service to the people you want to reach, the profits will follow.
2. Create consistent visual and verbal branding
You know that kid in high school who had an unforgettable wardrobe and wore it just about every single day?
They might have been into grunge, or they dressed like a preppy, or a hippie, or a rich kid.
Whatever the case, they had their “costume.”
Between how they dressed and how they behaved, you knew exactly what to expect from them.
That’s what our visual and verbal brands do for our businesses.
When we “dress” our business in consistent visual branding, we telegraph a message about who we are.
And when we back this up with consistent verbal branding, we reinforce that message.
If you want people to remember and relate to your business, define your visual brand, pair it with a verbal brand that supports your brand personality, and then apply the magic of time.
With consistent application of your verbal and visual brand over time, your prospects will connect to your business, remember it, and trust it.
3. Share your memorable “why”
Do you regularly tell the story of why you created your business? Do your prospects and customers know why you do what you do?
Think about all the business “origin stories” you may have read and absorbed:
- Apple began in a garage with the goal of bringing personal computing to the masses.
- Ben & Jerry’s started at a gas station because the founders wanted to “do ice cream differently.”
- Facebook started out of a dorm room as a way to connect college students.
A memorable origin story can help you connect with people despite the digital distance that separates you. Here are the basic components of a compelling origin story:
- A sentence or two about your personal history as it relates to the big problem your business addresses.
- An injustice you noticed that you wanted to solve.
- The solution you developed to meet the need you found.
If you need to refine your origin story, read How to Create an Authentic Brand Story that Actually Improves Trust.
4. Speak with a relatable voice
How do you develop a “voice” for your marketing? It’s such an abstract concept it’s difficult to describe.
We were lucky enough to have Henneke write an article on this website about writing with “voice.”
“Creating a website with personality may sound difficult, but it’s surprisingly easy. You just need to understand the three steps to develop an enchanting brand voice.”
Her steps are all about wiping away all traces of a “corporate” voice and replacing them with a voice that’s infused with your own personality.
Henneke’s simple steps are:
- Step 1: Get rid of the “corporate voice”
- Step 2: Add personality to your voice
- Step 3: Sprinkle personal stories into your content
Get the details by reading How to Infuse Your Brand Voice with Personality.
5. Offer a compelling reason to stay in touch
If you’ve implemented the ideas in this article, there’s really only one thing left to do.
Now that you have your prospects’ attention, what will you do to keep them engaged?
It’s not enough to get attention and hold it for a few minutes. You want to develop a long-term relationship — and that means staying in touch consistently.
The best way to do that? Email marketing. It’s one of the most effective ways to connect with your virtual community.
Email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media — nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined. –McKinsey & Company
Create a reason for people who like what they see on your website to continue the connection
For more on how to use email marketing to nurture your connections, read Email Marketing Best Practices: How to Connect, Deliver, and Profit in the Inbox.