Social intelligence for branding entrepreneurship

Social intelligence for branding entrepreneurship

It is undeniable that social dominance can be achieved through practice(s) that place us above the rest. As the book of life in James 3:5 asserts that “the tongue is a fire”. People talk and hear, but what matters most is their connection to our brand(s). Where we need to invest in social capital for repeat and sustained business. In our traditional societies we referred to these as matters of gossip. But in business and entrepreneurship, we have realized that it is the source of word of mouth (both physical and electronic) through our customers and stakeholders.

As growing businesses, we need to think beyond product/service performance to the social environment that affects our visibility, recognition and identity. This is when people and systems enhance the positive perception desired by our brand(s). The craftsmanship of an entrepreneurial enterprise should therefore be anchored on a Social Intelligence (SI) strategy which for me replaces Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as supported by Artificial Intelligence (AI). My learned professor once hinted that we have moved from Internet of Things (IoT) to Internet of People (IoP). I agree with this edition where we look at Social Intelligence in the branding of our homegrown SMEs.

Social Intelligence in this focus can be considered a psychological process that we go through as interactive people in the societies we do business in order to understand the demands of humanity and respond accordingly. Where an entrepreneur must adequately understand, manage and serve interpersonal relationships that exist within the enterprise itself and broadly with the external world (potential customers, investors and stakeholders). This was evidently one of the reasons leading to failure/closure of our promising SMEs but ignored to be common.

As we yell at our customers, mislead them and fail to deliver on the brand promise. Of course, in the previous editions we have discussed these cases and some types of businesses that have branded themselves and are perceived by the markets as poor in customer service and service delivery. It cannot be the same with our own enterprises. Fortunately, there has been a growing trend of innovation with some tools supporting SI that have made it even easier to understand customer likes, dislikes, wants and needs. This is surely an era of deeper levels of connection with your broader audiences/markets. Those likes, impressions and followers on Twitter, Facebook and other world domains are costless, yet they take the business/brand far in cultivating and strengthening a rewarding SI.

To begin with in a simpler way SI helps the business/brand to better understand the targeted customers. Those who jumped into this ride can now remember customers on their birthdays (delight them with a message/gifts on their celebration). Some have gone to great lengths to understand their customers’ personalities, hobbies and interests. This takes the business to another level of service customization through SI. You can do the same in this age of enterprise. Most of our businesses fail not only because of a lack of marketing/promotional skills, but in some cases they overdo it. Sending bulk SMS can be annoying as others do when broadcasting their products/service promotion to the public/world. This is the time to be new and ride on SI that streamlines and excites your brand followers. The concept is strategic as it saves more by balancing organizational marketing resources from human to system invention and time invested. This eliminates the negative opportunity cost caused by inefficiency in the allocation of promotional resources.

Then we look at some of the tips to improve SI in our company. Self-image and impression are keys that we must develop positively. The image of an entrepreneurial venture and its brand is of crucial importance. It can be transferred to the members of the organization (both senior managers and their subordinates/followers). Image as a node of brand equity speaks to the SME’s personality along with the levels of socialization likely to manifest in the exchange process. Our customers follow peace and comfort as a positive image of the brand, so we need to do a self-introspection here and adjust for better. This is highly evident in our ecology, no wonder why most SMEs are taken for a second option in wider upper/elite markets. Their image is messed up to be socially reckoned for poor production and poor quality.

There is also a need to improve on your knowledge of the social rules of the game and the roles played by you, consulted agents and key stakeholders of that sector you operate. This is not only for an effective Knowledge Management, but to delineate the scope of your communication paths, focus and social network. This continues to the platforms for socialization that are open to your business type.

Sometimes you don’t need to be on Facebook for business social sufficiency. Direct sales calls can work wonders for some businesses, even in this digital world. We do a copy and paste in our SI, but there is a need to go further and have one that is specific to your sector and area of ​​specialization (own marketing/communication strategy).

As a reminder, we are in the era where the customer has proven himself to be the King more than ever before. The same is true with SI where the presence of the client in the circuit must be well defined and respected. We must have high listening skills where the voice of the customer takes precedence in everything we do. Whether it’s a complaint or supplement, we need to take time and have a closer ear to hear/act. As stated in the previous issue, it is sometimes a challenging task for our customers to make contact and fulfill requests by our operators. This will take us back to a market myopia where we will produce for inventory rather than sales.

Lastly for this issue is fluency in both verbal and non-verbal communication. It is a skill that is gradually earned and developed. Most of our entrepreneurial owners/managers lack this perspective.

Where they sideline trainings and personal improvements in pitching and negotiation skills as hygienic. I say entrepreneurship should be a fusion of street smarts and education for an up to date SI. Here there is a need for care, constant search for new knowledge and adaptation. Your fluency translates into confidence that the customers and stakeholders will have in your business and brand.

Of course, AI can also help in various ways, no wonder why the University of Johannesburg makes it a compulsory course for all the programs it offers (shows it’s serious). Until then, think and act on Social Intelligence in your brand for entrepreneurship.

Dr Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the Head of Business Science at Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Management. His doctoral research focused on business administration (destination marketing and branding major, Ukzn, SA). He is engaged in agribusiness and consults for many companies in Zimbabwe and Africa. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at [email protected], WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871.

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