I am a people person—I love listening, talking, and connecting with others. I also studied English in college and greatly appreciate well-crafted, thoughtful, precise, or poetic language. Marketing is the practice of communicating ideas, telling stories, and creating connections—all interests of mine.
In addition to being a marketer, I’m also a consumer, and one of the aspects I enjoy most about my favorite brands is their focus on communication. I usually shop from smaller businesses and genuinely enjoy the creative ways they have fostered relationships. For example, a skincare company I love always includes handwritten notes in packages. But no matter the size of your business, focusing on communication with your customers will lead to stronger relationships, customer retention, and loyalty.
In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite ways brands can authentically create connections with their customers.
Let your customers text you
Bumpin Blends is one of my all-time favorite businesses—they make easy, delicious smoothie cubes to help manage everyday symptoms. (I rely on their Cherry Dreams smoothie more than melatonin when I’m having trouble sleeping!) They also have a fantastic loyalty program—I almost have enough points for a blender.
Bumpin Blends has a customer portal, so it’s super easy for me to make updates or switch flavors. But, if I ever need some extra support, they have a number I can text for help. When I joined, I got a 24/7 nutritionist who helped answer all my questions and set me up.
For example, there was a time when I was trying to apply a discount code I received, but it wasn’t working online. I texted the helpline, and my nutritionist instantly fixed it for me. Once I had to go out of town at the last minute and needed to delay a shipment. Since the products are frozen, it was essential for me to be home when they arrived! When I explained the situation to my nutritionist, she rescheduled my shipment for delivery when I’d be home again. I appreciated the personal help so much. Their availability helps me feel better about using their service since I know I can get support anytime I need it!
A tool like RechargeSMS empowers subscribers to manage their orders with a simple text. These days, most of us do everything from our phones anyway—and with transactional SMS, you can meet your customers where they are. I really appreciate brands that implement this tool because it saves me time and effort. (And, I can never remember my passwords anyway.)
Build thoughtful content
I’m as guilty of anyone as having a pile of unread books, but generally, I’m reading at least one! I tend to read books more than I read content from brands, but every now and then, a brand does it so well, I’m compelled to take a break from my latest novel.
Really successful brands are experts at storytelling. A brand is about more than just the products. In the era of relational commerce, customers want to connect with a greater mission and ethos. One of the best ways to share this is through your brand voice. You’ll use your brand voice in social media, marketing, and even product packaging, but content is a major vehicle for reaching your audience.
Keap Candles makes sustainable scented candles with reusable materials and plastic-free packaging. As a certified B-corporation, they’ve committed to restoring harmony with the planet by being waste-free. The founders, Stephen Tracy and Harry Doull, were inspired to create Keap from their conversations about intention and presence. They encourage people to slow down, connect, and ground themselves through the practice of lighting a candle. And, in addition to their products, they’ve created content to support this experience.
Keap takes customers on a scent journey throughout the year. Customers receive specially selected candles every month, such as cozy scents in the winter for a respite from the chill. And each candle is also accompanied by an original poem! Keap further explores monthly themes through their seasonal series, which features zines, art, and writing.
Keap offers more than a quality, sustainable candle. They genuinely communicate with their customers by diving into deep questions, topics, and inquiries. They talk to their customers not as shoppers but as whole humans—as curious and inquisitive people.
Start a conversation
If you want to know what your customers need, you can ask them! When a brand is willing to listen to their customers, they develop better products and create a sense of community in the process.
Blume was founded by two sisters, Bunny and Taran Ghatrora, who wanted to address the stigmas around periods, puberty, and sex education. They envisioned making self-care more accessible and building the next generation a space to learn and grow. They make products for everything from skincare to period care and always use safe, gentle ingredients.
Blume wanted to offer effective products and real impact—so they went to the people they were hoping to serve. They actually co-created their original launch products with their community by surveying them on what they wanted and needed. When Blume did a podcast with Recharge, they shared how they use an iterative feedback loop with their community—they ask what products their community wants to see next through email and Instagram. Then, they prioritize the feedback into a product launch pipeline and even send samples to community members.
Blume starts actual conversations with their customers. And, they develop real, lasting connections by listening to their customers’ input and delivering products inspired by mutual creation.
Effective & empathetic communication
As someone who has spent a lot of time studying and learning about communication, a few rules have stuck with me.
- Listen twice as much as you speak: The exact quote is attributed to the Greek philosopher Epictetus. To me, this says that we all have much to learn from each other, and we can all improve our communication and knowledge by listening more. For brands, this means you need to listen to your customers—from surveys, direct feedback, reviews, or even data. Take the time to hear them before you talk at them.
- It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it: Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” While you should certainly take the time to be deliberate, accurate, and clear in your communication, know that energy and intention are just as important. People will primarily recall the emotional impact of your communication—make sure it’s a positive memory.
- Be authentic and transparent: Real relationships are built on honesty. If you want to create genuine connections, be transparent with your customers. For example, let your customers know if something goes wrong, like a shipment delay. Keep them updated on relevant changes and updates. And finally, be true to your brand—develop an authentic voice, and speak to your customers. They are people too, and we all respond to authenticity, integrity, and realness.