• Timothy Osborn

Image is everything...or is it?

Updated: May 21, 2018

In the digital age we are in small businesses and entrepreneurs have a vast array of image building and content developing software application solutions that truly can create impressive presentations, pitches and brand offerings. A company's image can attract, and a personal image that is compelling can certainly boost your online presence; but, is image really everything? Some friends and I were talking about the award winning TV series "Downton Abbey". If you have seen the series you understand the discussion that "image is everything". The high society life of the show projects the premise that without image nothing else matters! Over the years, I've heard every phrase from "Fake it until you make it" to "Just look good and smile". These suggestions were offered as strategies for presenting oneself and maintaining an image. The reality of authenticity is far from that elementary level of thinking. Authentic, transparent, real and genuine relationships connect at levels where image is not even considered beyond the initial acquaintance.

A well groomed image and polished pitches designed to wow the audience are valuable to a degree - they certainly can foster attraction and compel someone to engage with your content or you as a person. However, attraction only draws the initial response and/or inquiry, what are the root elements necessary for sustained engagement and building customer loyalty relationships.

Let's take a moment and talk about 3 tips for creating long term relationships and a loyal customer/client base:

  1. Substance: Substance can be defined as the "heart of the experience". Substance goes beyond attraction and connects on the level of value, experience, expertise and quality of service. True substance goes above and beyond to deliver not only the wow, but the why, how and where moments that are forever etched upon the lives of those customers and clients who interact with a brand, person or organization. It can be found in the depths of what has been spoken not the mere quantity of words. Substance engages, provokes and inspires deeper levels of emotion and higher levels of loyalty. Images attract but substance is what makes a client say - "I want to engage with them over and over again".

  2. Relevance - a relevant topic keeps an audience engaged and likewise a relevant service offering will keep a customer coming back for more. Relevance is applicable forward thinking able to be utilized today. Relevance sees the now and points toward the future. In certain situations it is like throwing out a life preserver just at the moment someone is beginning to sink then providing the connection to survival and safety. In other situations, it is like speaking a truth in the presence of uncertainty unfolding a key strategy to move to the next level. Image can attract but relevance makes the client say - "That was just the answer I needed and what I was looking to find".

  3. Importance - importance is a key understanding for those in business. The greatest example for this discussion I can share is my background as a real estate broker training new agents that came to work for my firm. The tendency was to focus on "showing properties and making the sale", instead of focusing on the customers needs, desires and wants including understanding what was important to the seller or buyer not the agent representing them. We can never truly embrace the topic of "importance" until we look beyond ourselves and listen, engage, hear and seek to understand that which is important to others. What is important to you may not be important what is important to me; but, if I am going to serve you it is not about me but all about you! The ability to establish the connection with others where their importance, significance and needs, desires or wants are clearly in focus is essential to building loyal customers and longevity within the workplace. Image can attract but understanding importance makes a client say "They listened to me and I always felt appreciated, valued and understood. They made me feel important!"

How are you engaging your customers, employees and other connections? Are you portraying an image or are you connecting on the deeper levels of relationship building by providing substance, maintaining relevance and fostering relationships that make others feel important? Take the time to build within your goals, plans and strategies these three elements for cultivating and sustaining customer loyalty, longevity in the workplace and healthy lifelong relationships. Have you made someone feel valued, appreciated and important today?

by Timothy Osborn, Senior Consultant - Founder @ The Osborn Group, LLC

#image, #importance, #relevance, #customerengagement, #employeerelations, #engagement, #substance, #leadership, #strategy, #employeeretention

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