Jewelry, chocolates, flowers; it’s that time of the year again: Valentine’s Day. If you’re in a relationship, chances are that you are thinking of ways that show your significant other that you love them, with the hope (or even expectation) that they return those feelings. On the other hand, if you are single like me, you think of which wine pairs best with loneliness and tears. I digress. You know your friends and family love your personality, but is your brand loved by your customers? There is a difference when your customers love your brand, over liking your brand. Some could argue that the grocery store chain Trader Joes is a prime example of a brand that customers love. Consider this, this week Trader Joes is set to open their initial stores in the state of Colorado. A local Denver area musician wrote a song about how much she loves Trader Joes, and plans to perform a concert in front of the Denver store the night before it opens. Another example of a brand that inspires love is Apple. In a 2011 article, Forbes named Apple as one of the happiest brands. Considering the popularity of their various products, it’s hard to argue that the majority of Apple consumers are unsatisfied. Not to mention all the die hards who line up for every release of the new iPhone. So we know that Trader Joes and Apple are loved, but the question is what makes them loved? It takes more than just selling good products. It takes really getting to know your community. For those who do not know, Trader Joes has a Hawaiian theme to their stores. So, every time they open a new store, they have a lei ceremony for their customers. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to introduce yourself to the community if you’re opening a new business or a new location. Having a grand opening is a good start, however it’s more important to have publicity. Consider making the grand opening a Facebook event and issuing press releases to local media outlets. Also, show that you and your business are involved and care about the community. This is what transforms public relations into Community Relations. Since Trader Joes hails from Pasedena, California, it makes sense for them to have a float every year in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Having a float in a nationally televised parade might be out of grasp for most small businesses, but try to take advantage of events in your own community. It might also be a good idea to join the local Chamber of Commerce. Just like in early romance, begin by showing off your good qualities, including kindness. Customers love a company that has a heart. Show that you care by donating to local charities. If it ties to the brand’s products or services, that’s even better. Yesterday during the blizzard, Modell’s Sporting Goods had a truck parked outside Grand Central Station handing out free hot chocolate and hand warmers. It was met with praise on their Facebook page by local NYC people and businesses alike. Again, make sure that you publicize your good deeds. As I have reiterated throughout this blog post, staying connected with the media is key. Going back to what makes Apple loved, one of their great techniques is holding press events to present their latest model or invention. Consider holding a press event with your local media to showcase new equipment, a new or significantly renovated store space, or anything that you can demonstrate that sets your business apart from competitors. With all these tips in mind, I hope that you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. May you have a healthy, loving relationship with your clients… just as long as none of them buys you lingerie.

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