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Merry Carole Powers Headshot

The Nightmare at the Branding Party

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Imagine sitting down at a dinner party, and before you are even situated, the person next to you introduces himself and launches into conversation. He tells you all about himself. His schooling. His training. Accomplishments and accolades. On and on he goes, giving you all the reasons there are to love him. He's charming, good looking and clever and sometimes even manages to serve up his diatribe with a joke or a sentimental smile. Regardless, the conversation is decidedly one way, and you look around, hoping there might be someone else to spend your time with.

He sees you getting a little disinterested. Sees in your face that you might think he's a bit shallow and selfish. He assures you this is not the case, that he is totally concerned for others. In fact, he proceeds to tell you, right down to the penny, how much money he has given to those less fortunate than him. You see how proud he is of his contribution... even in giving, it's all about him.

Ever met a brand like that?

Far too many brands carry on one-way conversations in their marketing. Talking only about who they are, what they offer and why consumers should buy from them. Even a vast majority of their cause marketing and CSR initiatives are all about the brand.

You don't want to be the brand having that kind of conversation that sends people looking for the nearest exit or delete button or channel changer, do you?

Communication is such an important part of your brand. How you speak to your consumer community says everything about who you are and how you regard them, not just as consumers, but as people. So many marketing messages lose sight of the simple fact that the person holding the wallet has a heartbeat -- as well as dreams, joys and worthwhile perspectives.

And among those are hopes and dreams for a better world. A safer world. A healthier world. A more balanced and environmentally protective world.

How can your brand help them create that?

With a real conversation -- one that's comprised of actions, not words. Start doing something that says who you are and how you care to make a difference in this world you share with consumers.

Don't tell people how caring you are; get out there, and make a difference. Don't just give money to a cause; empower those in need to rise above their plight. People are becoming less and less interested in the glorified tax write-off most brands make in order to be seen as good corporate citizens.

Instead of throwing money against a cause, step up and create a partnership with your consumers. Let your actions get them talking. If you put consumers in a position to make a real, tangible difference in the world by buying from you, trust me, they are going to tell people about it. It's going to start conversations online, in coffee shops, throughout classrooms and on and on.

Which is another reason why double bottom line branding is so valuable. When you double your bottom line, you create a platform that has meaning to your consumer community. Which instantly positions you to have a meaningful conversation with them at every single brand touch point.

Here are a few specific dynamics of how the double bottom line positions you to have the real conversation:

IT CREATES AN INSTANT COMMON GROUND: Traditionally, marketing has always been a fairly aggressive dance driven by an "us and them" mentality. The us and them being defined as sellers trying to get buyers to part with their money, and buyers trying to get the deal that's best for them. The double bottom line eliminates the "us and them" mentality. It unites these two sides on a common ground - a connection that 88% of CEOs today value as a top priority. Both parties have a legitimate interest in the topic at hand. You are caring about a cause together. And in doing so, you are sharing one of the most powerful forces in the business world (and the world at large for that matter.) It's called passion. And when people become passionate about your brand, they continue the conversation you started with their friends. They share it in their Facebook posts. It ripples outward and onward claiming a life of its own, doubling your sales through word-of-mouth recommendations. By simply creating a common ground and a real connection, you effectively achieve something many multi-million dollar advertising campaigns can't even do.

IT HUMANIZES YOUR BRAND: A double bottom line transforms your ordinary brand into a brand with a heart. And that is a powerful business move - one that empowers you to charge up to 200% more for your products than your competitors. Because now people can connect with you emotionally. You've tapped into the most fundamental human need there is: Emotional connection. You have upgraded your status from product maker to comrade. (Another word for friend, right?) And when it comes to the online world we live in, friends share messages with one another. They support businesses they know, like and trust. The "know, like and trust" factor is the trifecta of sales success. In fact, 66% of consumers online will only interact with brands if they trust their way of communication. Since you have linked your purpose and your profit, your desire to do good is not just an empty promise. Your double bottom line makes it impossible not to walk your talk - and since actions always speak louder than words, people will see this and trust you. Citizen consumers don't just prefer brands with a heart. They are insisting on them. And they now account for nearly 70% of the buying population.

IT CREATES SCHMARM-FREE MARKETING MESSAGES: When you create a double bottom line, you become allies with your consumer community - joined in a purpose. This instantly frees you and your marketing message from the schmarmy feeling of having to convince anyone to connect with you, because you are already on the same team. And even better, you have positioned yourself as a leader of that team. Through your second bottom line, your brand is now a catalyst, empowering individuals to make an impact that is near and dear to them. It is through you that they can make their difference. And that, in turn, transforms a brand's marketing from simply talking to truly having something to say.

That's the kind of conversation I'm talkin' about.