It’s not clear exactly when the marketing world entered the ‘Nice Age’ but if recently your heart has been melting more and more as you’re exposed to commercials, ads and branded content then you’re experiencing this industry shift firsthand.   It’s hard to believe how far marketers and brands have detoured from a very product and sales driven belief system to a socially and emotionally connected one.

The bottom line, as a recent NY Times article points out, is that this ‘warm and fuzzy’ content phenomena has major profit potential.

Here’s a look at how brands can make opportunity happen in today’s competitive, often (heart)warming climate:

1. Get sentimental on social media

Use social media in the most personal ways by asking questions and sharing compelling human insights (beyond just a nice video/photo).  Take on the role of your consumers’ best friend by giving followers a good laugh, great advice and genuine conversation.

2. Give your brand stories a fairytale ending

With all the negative news in the media today, people are eager to hear heartwarming stories with happy endings.  Mix up your content/advertising plan by injecting stories about real people and real emotional currency versus being completely brand-focused.  Whether it’s a video of someone’s first kiss, newborn puppies or a random act of kindness, everyone loves to share and support good news.

3. Stop selling and serve up a smile

Pet brands do a great job of using smile-inducing images and stories in their marketing efforts across all platforms.  They know the value of making someone smile; we’re talking about supercharged brand loyalty and trust.  If you think your category doesn’t lend itself to puppies and other emotional content, think again.  Even classic B2B companies are finding that the pathway to richer engagement is through both the service AND the smile!

4. Embrace the haters

With the rise of social media, customer complaints and negative reviews are more public than ever.  Rather than ignore it, saavy brands are acknowledging the issue and addressing it directly to show the brand’s commitment to building an authentic relationship with their consumers.

5. Create “aha” moments by over-delivering on industry expectations

Thanks to technology and digital innovation, brands are now more than ever offering products and services (or even just great content) that extend beyond their traditional verticals.  Whether your brand independently takes on a completely new category like Google is doing with their driverless car, or you enter into an unlikely partnership like ProFlowers and Uber did, the real value lies in showcasing your innovation and passion to consumers.

6. Get into Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in a real world way

The intentions behind your CSR strategy should go beyond just “increasing share holder value”.  Your goal should be to show and share the sincere value you have for anyone who interacts with your brand. Winning brands (Think: Ben and Jerry’s and TOMS Shoes) create “forever smiles” by doing good year-round in thoughtful, creative ways.

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