The snow fell on the windshield and was quickly melted by the warmth of the truck’s heater. The other cars on the road zoomed by our white one-ton chugging along with his heavy load. It was a Norman Rockwell painting moment for me. My father and I riding down the busy Illinois highway hauling our load of coal back to the house.
This is the first memory I have of appreciation branding. I didn’t know it at the time. In fact it took me many years to realize why I had fallen in love with the song on the radio that snowy day. As we traveled home to Indiana with our load of coal, Alabama’s “Forty Hour Week” came on the radio. I remember changing the lyrics in the chorus to “Indiana Stone Mill Worker let me thank you for your time.” I let out a big pride filled smile when I sang it about my father. I felt as if they had written a song just about us.
Appreciation branding is a term I use to describe any branding effort where the focus in not about getting out who you are and what you do, but getting out the message that you appreciate who your customer is and what they do for you. Appreciation branding is an effective skill for any brand because it creates a relational connection between customers and a brand. In order to be effective at appreciation branding, you must do the following well:
Know Your Customer – Rather than a blanket approach where you send out a message to everyone, you must be specific with who you are thanking. “Pennsylvania Steel Mill Worker let me thank you for your time” is very specific. The more specific you can be, the better.
Create Appeal – For example, if you’re Tiffany’s your clientele is not usually bikers. Think of your customers and what appeals to them. Alabama knew exactly what type of music their customers were listening to and crafted their message into a song that would be played on the type of station their customer would be tuned into.
Focus – The point of Appreciation Branding is to thank your customers. As such, you should leave yourself out of the message almost entirely. Focus on the customer. Once they feel appreciated, they’ll be inclined to find out who thanked them. This is why we sign thank you cards at the bottom, not the top.
The Gift – Leave them with something to remember you by. For me, I couldn’t get that tune out of my head the rest of the day. When the song comes on the radio these days, I instantly go back to that snowy day in Illinois and I can’t help but feel as if they’re thanking my father all over again.
Becoming a leader in your field will certainly earn you followers. These people are your customers and your providers. Without them you wouldn’t be able to make a living doing what you do. Thanking them is an important opportunity for you to connect on a relational level.
What have you done lately to thank your customers?