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Many brands seem to find it hard to make a real connection with their consumers and they end up selling to them rather than inviting them into a compelling conversation. Teams who manage brands often lack a deep understanding of their consumers on an emotional level and rely on segmentation studies and outside research alone to bring their consumers to life. Research often labels consumers as "targets" with impersonal and functional descriptions that serve to drive functional communication rather than conversational dialog and connection, leaving many brands disconnected from their consumers.

There are shining examples of brands that build a personal connection with their customers and have a personal voice in their communication. El Pescador, a small fish market in La Jolla, California, knows exactly who their customer is and what their consumer wants. El Pescador knows exactly how their brand is positioned and what business they're in, which is why they have been successful for the past 30 years. They are at the top of their game and completely focused on being the best at one thing: serving the finest, freshest, most delicious fish that your hard-earned money can buy.

Sean Shannon, owner of El Pescador, runs an amazingly simple yet brilliant business focused on delivering the very best product possible. He employs young, friendly surfers and watermen with unique personalities who all seem to love what they do. Their approach to customer service is direct, helpful and focused. The fish is world-class, the food served is always delicious, and their irreverent and from-the-heart guidance on life is memorable and endearing. They exemplify a no-technology approach to merchandising, deploying daily "tips" in a witty communication style directly from their "pesky crew" members who create the daily tip for the tip jar. It's a simple reminder that no matter what we're saying to our customers, it should attract attention and inspire an emotion or action. Their quiet confidence shows in everything they do, and their authentic approach to creativity and customer service is a formula of perfect simplicity.

Uncommon Sense Tips for Real Communication:

  1. Don't talk at, but talk with your consumers—remember, it's a conversation and they can ignore you if you're dull, boring and irrelevant.
  2. Make sure you understand your consumers as real people, not one-dimensional targets.
  3. Don't rely on research alone to understand who your consumers are.
  4. Have a frontline connection with the people buying your products and feed the lessons and conversations back to the appropriate people.
  5. Develop a clear voice and a unique tone for your brand and use it consistently.