SME and B2C marketing thinking has many ideas and theories about why and how people buy.
Sometimes we’ll buy an item or service because we trust the brand – think of John Lewis for example – but a great deal of business transactions are brought about by knowing, liking and trusting an individual.
There are a number of reasons for this.
It can be time consuming and expensive for a business to establish a corporate brand which is known, liked and trusted enough to bring business in of itself.
For many purchases however, people buy from people.
A potential client will want to engage someone who they feel they can get along with. Someone who “talks their language” or who they feel some empathy with – often in priority to the brand or organisation which that person represents. Also, the power of a personal recommendation cannot be overstated.
We’ve recognised this ourselves in the way our website introduces our lawyers as approachable people – not just lawyers but rounded individuals with personalities, senses of humour and – would you believe it – interesting lives outside of the office. Prospective clients can check us out online as individuals working together under the Wards banner. As a result, many new clients now come in saying that they feel like they know us already – even before stepping into their first meeting.
Bringing the personal element into a marketing strategy is increasingly important – and very fashionable – for those services where the customer or client has a high degree of personal interaction with a trusted advisor.
This is the reason why business and social networking sites are the focus of so much attention by marketing professionals at the moment.
Professionals are exhorted to build up their own following on Twitter, or to have as many LinkedIn, Facebook or Ecademy contacts as they can carry. When a need arises, or a tweet hits the spot, any of those contacts can ping off an email without the need to search for the right person, break the ice and begin building a relationship.
The initial stages of the relationship (knowing, liking, trusting etc) are already well underway by the time you are keeping up to date with what can sometimes seem to be the most tedious details of someone’s work and home life.
Somehow, knowing what someone likes on their toast for breakfast, or where they went on holiday, makes it easier for a Financial Director to consult them about an imminent threat to the profit & loss account
However, this can all have serious implications for the employer.
Building a business based on individuals and their own networks can bring appreciable risks to the information employers prefer to keep confidential – and information which they are under a legal duty to control.
For example: –
For these reasons employers need to:
James Taylor is an Associate Solicitor with Wards Solicitors.
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