Let's Make Business Personal Again

In 2009, I left my position with a leading shopper marketing agency to start something entirely new. To say it was scary is an understatement. But, I saw the beginning of something unique and could not shy away -- the rise of social media offered an entirely new medium through which brands could develop authentic and highly personal relationships with their customers. I decided to start a company that harnessed the power of the growing socialsphere to create authentic relationships between brands and consumers.

It was the biggest undertaking of my life, and I promised myself I would hold true to one principle that has since guided me through my career: No matter how large or small the client, we will always go the extra step to build and maintain personal relationships. From a mom-and-pop shop to Walmart, from one blogger to a network of bloggers -- everyone deserves the same level of service and attention.

With this in mind, our clients grew and so did our blogger network. We started off with only a handful of bloggers and today, our community has grown to over 3000 geographically and demographically diverse social influencers. Still, no matter the size of our blogger community, we apply the same principles to fostering personal relationships at scale. Because of the strong relationships we've developed with our bloggers, they create better results for our clients. It's cyclical like that.

I spend many days focused on maintaining our personal connections with both our clients and bloggers. Here are three things to keep in mind to help make your business personal again:

An Email is Nice: A Face-to-Face is Better: In today's digital world, business continues to get done on snow days, when employees are travelling, or even working with teams in different countries. But while the job surely can be done without meeting face-to-face, it's not always the most effective way to build a long term relationship. Those are built over time and based on trust. Seeing someone's facial expressions and learning their children's names are key to building that trust.

In the same vein, we make it a point to create opportunities to bring our blogger network together to meet with fellow community members in-person. In addition, we host an online peer university to help each member hone their writing and business skills.

Keep Lines of Communication Open: Communication is key, and over-communicating is even better. I'm not saying make hundreds of phone calls or send thousands of emails to your team daily, but a weekly check-in is a great way to remind employees that they are appreciated. Also, be sure your team knows that they can reach you when need be. At Collective Bias, we try to ensure that the lines of communication between our influencers and our corporate team are always open. By doing so, we're able to keep a stronger pulse on our organization.

Quality Over Quantity: Client service is about providing the best experience possible. It's not about the number of interactions, but the meaning behind them. We can take a page from our bloggers when it comes to meaningful engagement. If you think about it, bloggers spend years developing their voice, their blog vision and building an audience that shares in that vision. They communicate frequently with their readers, respond to comments and understand the kind of content that keeps people coming back to their blog. We should emulate this approach when it comes to client service. It's not about sending a daily email to a client, but about what value you're sharing. I'd rather my team send one smart update per week over five inconsequential ones.

In today's fast-moving world, we must take a moment to remember that at the core, all businesses are built on personal connections. Marketers can frequently get caught up in the "more is better" approach -- putting information in the hands of as many people as possible, through as many channels possible -- but forget to actually talk to the people they are engaging with. And as companies grow, the likelihood that they will maintain connections with their consumers shrinks. Brands that cultivate their personal connections will not only create a competitive advantage with strong customer loyalty, they ultimately will be better positioned for long term success.