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Make Customers Fall in Love With Your Brand By building on mutual understanding, a brand and its customers can move into more serious, long-term relationships that benefit both parties

By Mark Flaharty

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Marketers can view today's marketing challenges in the context of mastering 21st century dating relationships: To win over their customers, brands need to do more than send red roses. To make relationships last, they need to truly understand customers and their needs if they want to make them develop brand affinity and fall in love.

As a brand marketer, your first step in wooing a consumer is to make a positive first impression and getting your date to "swipe right" on your profile to find out more about what you have to offer.

Related: 5 Big Company Branding Strategies Any Business Can Utilize

Once both parties have expressed interest in each other, you need to get to know your prospect. Singles create online profiles, so they can get to know their prospective date enough to tell that, for example, she is a 20-something professional living in downtown L.A. with a French bulldog puppy and an affinity for sunrise yoga on the beach and kombucha. While a dating prospect might list all this on her profile, consumers similarly are "telling" marketers who they are through their online behavior (much of which is easily available to the marketer via what they've done on and off your website). Such behavioral data is some of the most predictive data marketers have ever been able to access. Understanding this data, and thus understanding your customers, allows you to make each customer feel like she is "the one."

Related: Attention Is the New Currency for Brand Advertising

As you use this data to engage consumers in a dialogue online, you'll be further building out your profile of the consumer and improving how she views your brand. These communications should be personalized to each target customer and optimized to send at the best time to get the most favorable response: a first "date." By the time you woo her into a first date, the customer knows roughly what to expect from your brand and vice versa. And if you are doing a good job, the omni-channel experience crosses over to the in-store experience.

As with any good first date, you do not talk about generalities but specifics. You want to talk a little bit about yourself and what your story is while finding out the same about her. Your offline experience with a consumer should follow this same guideline.

Whether the consumer chooses to buy from your brand or not, you still know her interests and preferences, so after a few weeks of playing "will she or won't she call," you can pluck up your courage to activate that customer, engaging with news or a second offer she can't resist. If you already know she really likes those new Lululemon yoga pants, you can throw in a discount to win her heart. Now is the time to develop a regular cadence of communication, one that consists of personalized messages your customer will be eager to receive.

After a few seemingly good interactions, it's time to move the relationship to the next level. To build loyalty and continue to surprise and delight your customer, you can offer her a new tank top to go with the yoga pants she bought. Then, down the line, reactivate the customer by inviting her to an exclusive in-store shopping party for your best customers. As the relationship progresses, she may go tell all her girlfriends about how great you are, winning you even more friends and business. Eventually, you may even take the bold step of asking her to sign up for your store credit card: a big milestone and sign of commitment. Where your relationship goes from there depends on your commitment to delivering positive, one-to-one experiences for your customers.

Isn't it time your brand grows up and gets serious about its relationships? By building on mutual understanding, a brand and its customers can move into more serious, long-term relationships that benefit both parties. The brand earns a loyal customer, or even a champion, and the customer has a brand she can trust and on which she can rely.

Related: The 3 Steps to Building a Winning Brand Strategy

Mark Flaharty

Executive Vice President of Advertising SundaySky

Mark Flaharty is an executive vice president of advertising at SundaySky, a company that provides a personalized video experiences in real time. He is responsible for setting and executing strategies that drive the growth and market leadership of SundaySky’s SmartVideo Advertising.

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