Every time my mom bought a new shirt, dress, or necklace when I was growing up, I heard, “I got it on sale,” or “it was 50% off,” followed by a big smile and fist pump. Unless it was Christmas time, in which case my dad bought her something and she would say, “it’s from Tiffany’s,” or Club Monaco, or Gucci.

Every time she remarked on her clothing (or those features about her clothing that had nothing to do with the product), my mom was telling herself a story about what she bought. The clothes spoke to her and she told people about it.

People all over the world are telling themselves a story about your product or service. Without a brand or an active message to support it, you can’t control the story they tell. Products are 25% of what you sell. The rest is an intangible feeling tied to the product.

It’s an active story that fits into the busy product-filled lives of your customers. So in a world full of great products, “I got it on sale” can sometimes be a bad thing. Sure, sales or markdowns can create scarcity and incite action in people that would otherwise not be motivated to. But don’t expect to build a business where people value what you do, and will pay you a premium for it, when you have sale after sale.

The best part is there are countless ways to build a brand. All you have to do is decide on how you’ll make your customer’s life better. Not with your product, but with the story they tell about it. The impact your product has in their life.

Unfortunately, a list of the top 100 ways to build your brand isn’t valuable. Although lots of people write about it. What is valuable are examples showing you what can be done with your brand, and maybe give you some ideas of where to go next.

So here are a few ways to connect with your customers and be more than a sale.

Selling experience #1: make a promise and delivering

amanda palmer website

Businesses and musicians can learn from Amanda Palmer. She’s built a following of dedicated fans 20,000 strong, simply by making a promise and delivering on it. She promises to not make music she doesn’t believe in. She promises to sacrifice ‘success’ in order to stay true to her fans and her art.

This is seen again and again by her decisions so far, and her fans love her for it. So much so that they pay in advance to fund her next album. They share it, buy 3 for their friends, then go on road trips just to see her play. She even has her own app. Amanda has transcended the traditional music business model by doing what others have not; promise something to your fans that they care about, and deliver.

Selling experience #2: tell stories

Selling Experiences

Most people don’t go to Spence Diamonds for the diamond quality. Most people go because they get to try on 1,000 different ring styles on their own without anybody bothering them.

Most people go to Spence Diamonds to tell their friends they got it at Spence and their husband made it ‘custom’ just for them. Most people don’t care about diamond quality, they care about what they’ll tell their friends.

Selling experience #3: share a lifestyle

frank and oak website

Frank and Oak is more than a clothing shop. When I buy from Frank and Oak, I know two things.

One, I trust them. They’re experts in men’s fashion and care about how I look. I know they’re experts because they have a magazine, awesome photos, and constantly remind me of how cool they are on Twitter and Facebook. They are (seemingly) living the life I want to live. Showing me how to cook steaks, teaching me about cocktails, and keeping me updated on Batman vs. Superman gossip.

Two, they care about quality – because it’s plastered all over their branding. Clean, fresh, original. I buy from Frank and Oak because I’m saying to myself, “Guys who look awesome, care about fashion, and live a semi-hipster lifestyle buy from Frank and Oak”. That’s a brand I can get behind!

Selling experience #4: make a connection

toms website

This is a classic case that we hear over and over again. I’ve been to restaurants where to work as a server you need to buy Toms shoes. Just so they can show and tell customers they care about the outside world.

Does it actually impact a child’s life if I buy that shoe? Probably. Do I know exactly which child, where they are, and how many had benefited so far? Nope. That’s not what I care about. What I care about is showing my friends that I care about someone other than myself. That I’m a ‘good person.’

Selling experience #5: share moments

virgin mobile website

I could quite possibly be a Virgin Mobile customer for life. They are, without a doubt, the best at surprising and delighting their customers members. Every couple of weeks I get another ‘member benefit’ at a store nearby. I even got a special deal on my new phone because I’m a returning customer.

Virgin sells the moment I get excited when I see a text from them…because I know they’ll always surprise me with something I care about.

Fun fact: Virgin partners with other brands they know their target market engages with. Frank and Oak, H&M, Aldo…basically every store I shop at.

Conclusion

Building a brand and selling experiences is a long term goal and can’t be taken lightly. The whole business model has to be behind it. Half-delivering on a promise or not selling an experience people care about won’t cut it. You have to own it. Tell your story, make promises, and delight a customer so they can tell their friends about it.

How are you building your brand? Let me know in the comments!

Hey – need more tips on growing your brand? Watch this free webinar with Neil Patel: 
neil patel

 

Fraser is an entrepreneur and writer from Vancouver, British Columbia. He loves marketing and branding, and has worked with early-stage startups from UBC on customer discovery and business development.

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