Every day, people are bombarded by messages from brands. Home. Work. Play. Online. Offline. We can hardly do anything without an ad. As you drive to the store, how many billboards do you see? “Buy our stuff!” “Call now!” Blah blah blah.
Our favorite playlist on the radio is punctuated by sponsor spots and commercials. Even music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify shove ads down our throats. “Hey Pandora listeners!”
We’ve learned to tune out the noise. We have to – or we would go insane. We want to live our lives without being buried in ads.
More often than not, people are irritated with ads. We see one on TV, and what do we do? Click. Change the channel. Mute. Whatever. On YouTube? Skip!
It’s a noisy world. Unless you are exceptional, you will not be heard.
Noisy rooms and crowded markets
Imagine a scene with me. You’re in a large, crowded room. Most of the people are talking. Not loud, not quiet. You have something to say. Over in the corner, you calmly say – at the same volume as everyone else – “May I have your attention please?”
Nobody moves. No heads turn. Nobody seems to care. What gives?
Your voice is lost in all the rest. Nobody moves because nobody hears. Nobody cares because your voice is just part of the noise. It’s not different enough, not louder, better or bolder. Then the realization hits you: this is a competition. You’re now competing with every other person in the room for attention.
That’s your business.
Your business is that man in the crowded room. I don’t care how awesome your message is, if you can’t – or won’t – actively compete with everyone else, do you think you’re going to get attention? Of course not.
See, here’s the thing: people don’t wake up in the morning and devote time to consuming your content if your brand is weak. They don’t. They simply don’t care. Their attention is on things that are important, valuable, helpful, entertaining. Is your brand any of those things?
This is a competition
You cannot start a business and assume no one is competing with you. Entrepreneur, whether your business is a side hustle or a full-time gig, you’re going to have to compete with much larger, much more popular brands. You’re going toe to toe with people who are taking this thing seriously. If you want to have any chance at taking them on, you need to get serious and stand out.
When you email your list, you’re competing for the attention of your subscribers. You’re competing against every other brand that’s trying to get their attention and loyalty.
When you post on your blog, you’re competing against every other big, popular site. Is your content helpful? Exciting? Sharable? If it isn’t, you don’t stand a chance.
Their minds – and their money – go to the brands they know and love. If you want to beat the big brands and earn attention, your brand has to be better. That means you have to work harder, smarter, faster, and longer. These big brands have the time and resources you don’t (yet.) What you lack, you’ll have to make up for in work ethic and passion.
Is anyone paying attention?
Sales don’t just happen. Subscribers don’t just happen. They have to come from somewhere, right? I think many of us have this romantic idea of building a brand.
“I’m gonna start a business and make some money!”
Ok. Awesome. Great goal. Who’s going to care about your business? Who’s going to pay attention to what you have to say?
Without attention on your brand, everything else is worthless.
Without attention on your brand, your fancy website design doesn’t matter.
Without attention, all your neatly organized posts are irrelevant.
You can spend hours learning Facebook, Pinterest, SEO, creating awesome opt-ins, and so on. All of that is wasted time if no one is paying attention to your brand.
You can set up shop in a nice neighborhood, buy all the supplies you think you need, and work hours on end. None of it matters if you never make a sale.
So how do you get your brand noticed?
Think back to that crowded room. Some people seem to think the answer is to talk more. Just keep talking; they’ll listen. Eventually. Keep posting. Keep publishing. Keep recording. It’ll count someday, right?
Probably not. Remember, this is a crowded room. Nobody can hear you. Why would they hear more words?
The real answer is simple: be louder. Be better.
What if we introduced a megaphone into that crowded room? Do you think you could get everyone’s attention then? Absolutely.
The answer is not to match the competition. The answer is to be different, be better.
I don’t want to be as good as my competitor. I want to blow them out of the water. I want my content to be so good that people kick themselves for not sharing it. That means I’m working twice as hard, but the end result is so much better.
If you’re one of my clients, I don’t want you to match the competition. I want you to kick their collective butts. How do we do that? We make our brands stand out. But first, you need to understand what a brand is.
What is a brand? (It’s not a logo)
People seem to get this wrong all the time. Your brand is not a logo. It’s so much more. You can have the best logo design, the slickest website and beautiful videos. But that’s not what draws people in. Those things – while good – are not what keep people coming back for more. These things are not your brand.
What is your brand? You are.
There are only a handful of marketers whose emails I read regularly. What keeps me coming back? Is it their fancy websites? Nope. In fact, one guy has the ugliest website I’ve seen in recent years.
Is it their cool videos? Nope. Graphics? Negative.
It’s their personalities. These are people I can tell genuinely care about me and my success. I get a strong sense that these men and women are passionate about providing quality content and helping others. They have opened up about who they are, where they are in life, and where they would like to be.
That is what keeps me hooked.
I have several brand names – but one true brand: me.
Your customers don’t keep coming back for your website. To be honest, they probably could not care less. They keep coming back for you. Don’t forget that.
Better brands earn more attention
Again, think back to that crowded room. Would the same old status quo be enough to be heard? Of course not. We need a megaphone.
If we’re going to be heard, we need to work harder, play harder, and promote smarter than 99.9% of the competition.
What does that look like on a practical level?
Provide insane value
Yeah, I get it. This is hard. But one of the best ways to make yourself stand out is to provide great value to people. This means you’re going out of your way to make sure that what you provide is accurate, helpful, worthwhile material.
Personally, this means that any time I write a blog post, shoot a video or send an email, I’m taking extra time to research and fact check myself. Any product I create is checked over and over to ensure it doesn’t suck. That’s how you make yourself different.
Be committed to helping people
Any brand can do this stuff for the money – not that money is a bad thing in and of itself. But when that’s our only motivation, there’s a problem. The best brands are those dedicated to helping people.
Solve problems. Save people money. Genuinely care about people’s success. Don’t be a soulless money-hogging loser who cares more for profits than people. That’s how you stand out.
Brand loyalty: Keep ‘em coming back for more
Standing out is great but in and of itself, it’s not enough. We need to keep people coming back to our respective brands. There are literally thousands of sites with content similar to this one. You could read an article here and then never come back.
And you shouldn’t ever come back if I don’t give you a reason to. Loyalty is earned, not assumed. Never take it for granted that a customer once will be a customer forever.
It’s on you to give your customers a reason to stick with you.
The best brands are transformative
The best brands are – as one of my mentors puts it – transformative. These are the brands that help people change.
They don’t just sell stuff. They sell experiences, lifestyles.
Why does someone buy an expensive car? Because he imagines the person he will be after buying it. He’s the guy with the cool car. Does a $50,000 car provide a fundamentally different experience than a $10,000 car? Probably not. But people will gladly pay the $50,000 because of the perceived, life-enhancing value of one brand over the other.
Brands that help people – people who help people – will find it very easy to build brand loyalty.
Why would someone spend $6,000 on a computer? Because of what they believe they can do with it. I can write on a $500 laptop and a $3,000 laptop. The experience isn’t fundamentally different unless I’m doing heavy-duty video work, graphic design or gaming. But having that expensive laptop tells the world “I have money.” Therefore, many people will pay extra.
Why should anyone visit your site? Buy your product? What do you help someone achieve or become?
That’s the question you need to answer.
Are you just pushing stuff, or are you actively helping people become who they want to be?
For example, I sell products designed to help people start and grow businesses. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into those products. But that’s not why anyone in his or her right mind would buy anything I put out. People buy my products because they see what they can learn to do and become. Take ListBootcamp, for example. You have no email list. You want an email list. You know that if you can build one, you can grow your business. This course will help you do that.
All I have to do is show you that my product can help you achieve what you want to do or become what you want to be, and the selling is done. That’s how you build brand loyalty.
If you want your brand to be relevant, people need to understand what’s in it for them. I’m not buying anything you’re selling if I’m not convinced it’s valuable to me. Neither should you buy anything I have for sale if you don’t see how it helps you.
Invest in people
Whether you’re a blogger or starting a shop selling toaster pastries, your goal should be to serve others, caring deeply for them. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, the best marketing method is simple. Care.
The absolute best way to build brand loyalty and gain attention is this: pour into people. Invest time and energy into others, not into profits and dollars.
People are loyal to people who care about them. If I know you have my interests at heart, I’m 200% more likely to listen to what you have to say than if you’re just pushing your products on me hoping to make a buck.
Obviously, I want people to buy my courses. That’s a given. But even more importantly, I want people to take what I teach them and make their lives – and the lives of those they love – better. That means I’m following up with them, being intentional in asking if they need help, spending my time to make sure they are equipped for success.
Show your target audience you give a crap. Most businesses don’t. Show them you’re different, and people will love you for it. They’ll keep coming back for more.
The bottom line: You must build brand loyalty!
Getting attention is no small thing. But without it, your brand is dead on arrival. All the knowledge in the world won’t help if no one visits your site, buys your products or reads your emails. You absolutely must build brand loyalty.
If your only interest is your bottom line, you will be hurting for attention. People need to know you care. Take time to invest in others and help them be the best they can be. That’s how you build brand loyalty and keep people coming back for more.
If you want to build brand loyalty, take the time to invest in people.
As my fellow entrepreneur Lindsay says, “If you do this for the money, you will fail.” She’s right.