I went out to dinner with a friend last night to a sushi bar. My friend loves sushi, and it was our second time there. Like many restaurant owners, the Itamae, or sushi chef and owner, struggled with business through the pandemic. The chef served, when he could, a limited number of patrons seated at small tables on the sidewalk outside his establishment, and to stay afloat, started a takeout service. Yesterday, though, was the first night since the pandemic he was allowed to seat patrons indoors. There were three couples, including us, and the mood was celebratory. It was apparent we all were enjoying the break from pandemic isolation. The sushi presentations were very appealing, and the bites delicious! One of the patrons asked the chef if he was going to continue with the takeout service. Surprisingly, the chef stated, “I hope not.”
Then he explained his WHY, and it all made sense. He shared with us how he grew up in Los Angeles and opened his restaurant three years ago after learning from some of the top Itamaes. He and his team are passionate about their skill and art of sushi making. His purpose is to create the very best bites for his patrons, never sacrificing the product’s quality or skillful and artful assemblage and presentation of rice, protein, sauce, and topping on a plate. Sushi for takeout was a revenue gap filler and forwent quality. Thus, he doesn’t believe this service aligns with his purpose, and he plans to discontinue it once his indoor dining patrons return. We left there as fans and assured him we’re coming back.
Undoubtedly, his story, purpose and outreach created what every leader wants, an emotional connection with their followers. We’ve all been exposed to several types of leaders, tall and small, slight and large, male and female, brash and circumspect, extrovert and introvert, talkative and nonplus. For some leaders, but not all, we often remark, “I feel her passion, I sense his drive, I get where we’re going, her presence inspires me, I’d follow him to hell and back.” We’re connecting, emotionally, to someone who influences our behaviors to act in a manner that collectively results in achieving a common goal.
These are all affirmational exhortations we state after listening to or watching charismatic leaders, and by saying them, we help grow their community of followers.
Just like the sushi chef, you create an emotional connection by sharing your story. That’s why Lisa and I encourage company owners to understand your WHY and purpose and thread them through your vision, mission, goals and objectives because it emotionally connects you to five constituencies critical to sustaining and growing your business: company, team, customers, stakeholders and community. By connecting with these constituencies, you boost followership.
Here’s another example of connecting with customers, stakeholders and the community. et’s look at a great Proctor and Gamble marketing campaign and the importance of creating an emotional connection.
Toilet tissue years ago was a perceived commodity. Although Charmin has been around for decades, their marketing became much more memorable and emotionally connected with buyers when Mr. Whipple was introduced. The stodgy Mr. Whipple was a store manager scolding patrons, who are impressed with how soft the tissue is, not to squeeze the Charmin!
At the turn of the 21st century, Mr. Whipple was replaced by the bear family. Papa and Mama bear and their cubs are joyous on your television screen when using Charmin, relishing its softness and gentleness on their bums! You get a real sense of pleasure when families, in this case, use Charmin! Then, go to the Charmin website and note their multiple guarantees to consumers and how the product is positioned as neutral to the environment by a logo of a green tree that states: protect, grow and restore. The bear family images, multiple guarantees, and safe environment assurances emotionally connect consumers, stakeholders, and, importantly, the community to Charmin, in its plainest terms, toilet tissue!
Creating an emotional connection with your five constituencies is one of several ways to accelerate business growth. Tell your story, express your purpose, and weave both into messaging. You’ll find followers grow and become raving fans.
Whether you’re a small business owner selling high-quality sushi or a multi-billion-dollar Proctor and Gamble corporation selling toilet tissue, your buyers are attracted to you, as Simon Sinek would say, because they understand your WHY. Give them a reason to connect emotionally, and you’ll have created raving fans! This is how you lead, think, plan and act! Now, let’s get after it.
Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions.