With all of the digital tools that are readily available it’s too easy for brands to fall into the habit of continuously asking their customers to do things. Like us. Hurry up and retweet this. Hey you, watch over here! The brands wonder why this doesn’t produce loyal customers and why their campaigns turn people off. It’s because of the simple fact that they don’t provide value before asking for something in return. The solution? Brands need to act like parents.

Think about it: Why do we love our parents? Because they loved us first. Brands need to put themselves in the mind of a parent and start providing value to their customers before asking anything in return. Let’s look at the relationship with my crazy little toddler and compare that to the relationship with brands and their customers. The things my son demands of me on a daily basis are such a perfect sentiment for what consumers really need from brands.

Just listen to me!”

Now that my son Luke can talk, he talks a lot.  And when I say ‘a lot’ I mean every single waking moment of every single second of every day. But what does he like the most?  He likes it when I listen and acknowledge him. Imagine if your favorite brand just slowed down the incessant chatter about their product features, values, contests, etc.  Imagine if they just shut up for once? Listening means giving consumers a platform to say what they think — the good, the bad and everything in between.

“Say you’re sorry!” 

As I fumble through being a new parent, I screw up a lot with Luke, which leads to a lot of apologizing. Brands need to be willing to admit when they’re wrong, make their amends and then move on. Virgin Atlantic recently had a problem where a service woman was told she had to remove her uniform before boarding a flight. Not only did VA immediately issue an apology in social media, Sir Richard Branson also contacted the woman directly and apologized. They made their amends, moved on and the customer reaction was extremely positive.

“Leave me alone!”  

Sadly, I’m already hearing this from my son — and he’s not even 4.  The same way that I need to leave Luke alone when he’s engrossed in a marathon game of Angry Birds, brands need to be respectful of people’s time and stop bugging them 10 times a day. Brands should only reach out to consumers when there is something meaningful to say, otherwise they’ll tire us out.

“Tell me stories!” 

This is the best part of being a parent, but requires all my creativity to tell a different story every day.  At any age, we all love to be entertained and good storytelling can come in so many forms.  Brands should take a break from the sell, sell, sell and instead entertain their consumers on a regular basis.

If brands do this right, they’ll have their consumers hugging and kissing them just like Luke does when I walk in the door after a long day.  Think like a parent providing value first and brands will be surprised at the love they get back.

Courtesy of YEC

Anson Sowby (of Rocket XLis a brand marketer with a proven track record of launching successful products and companies for over 14 years. He’s led global teams within the Brand and Agency functions of numerous Fortune 500 companies marketing their products in traditional and social media including Toyota/Lexus , Samsung, HBO, Activision, Sony , Old Spice, Dove, PepsiCo PEP -0.7%, The NHL, NASCAR, and The United Nations.

Courtesy of YEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.


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