Here at DPM, our main focus is to build meaningful relationships and partnerships for our clients. But in order to successfully build brand love and loyalty, these relationships must not only be strategic, but also authentic. But how do we do that?

Just like you prefer to talk to a real, live person rather than a recording when you’re trying to resolve a technical problem, so too do your customers. Brands who nix the typical form of advertising and instead participate in live, in person events and social media campaigns are the ones who do the best at winning people over to create customers for life.

It doesn’t mean you have to be at every event. But your product sure does. So when you’re not doing live, social media appearances, find events that are in line with your brand, and then, think swag. There is a reason why many companies have a guarantee their product: they know that if you try it, you’re almost certain to like it. And that creates a life long customer. The same principle holds true: try it for free once, and you just may buy it for life.

I can’t tell you how many times I have personally received a gift bag at an event and become a customer of those products as a result. I remember getting samples at a beauty event thrown by our community friends at Wanderlust of toxin free cosmetics called “W3LL People,” and instantly I fell in love. Their story was compelling (it involved a treehugger and a makeup artist, come on!), and they cleverly had a company spokesperson at the event to speak about the product. I was so intrigued between the story and actually trying their product that I still buy and follow the brand. I heard recently that Target picked up their line. Surely it wasn’t all because of free swag, but I’m willing to bet that it had a lot to do with it. It’s grassroots advocacy at its best: bring together like-minded people at a live event and give them products that are in line with their tastes. Tell them a story that inspires them, and you’ve got a great recipe for brand loyalty.

At DPM, we have created relationships with Reebok Hub, Bloomingdale’s, Well + Good, Create & Cultivate, Foundermade, LA Fit Expo, Santa Monica Pier Group, Health-Ade Kombucha, Under Armour, Bulletproof, Wanderlust, Garden of Life, LA Times, Livestrong, Bandier, MOBOT, Vital Choice, Vega, Quest bars and KIND (to name a few, haha). This kind of grassroots connecting gives the brands we work with the opportunity to tell their story in a natural way within a community that is already on the lookout for what our brands have to offer.

So, how can you create a brand that people will fall in love with? Consider the following:

1. What story does your brand tell?

It’s hard to sell anything if you’re not clear on why you’re doing it in the first place. People can feel your authenticity (and lack thereof). So get clear on your story. Why are you doing this? What inspired the brand?

2. Have smart goals

There is a reason this acronym comes back time and time again: it works. Make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. I would also add strategic. If you’re selling health food bars, don’t go to a motorcycle convention to build brand awareness! Stick to marathons, health fairs and the like.

3. Create a strategy with a PR Firm

It takes a lot to build brand awareness, and no doubt, you can do it on your own. By why do the legwork when you can work with a PR Firm that has worked for so long to create relationships with partners who will benefit your brand? Let your PR firm do the heavy lifting.

4. Have great key messaging

This is where your story comes back in. Get clear on your story, and your message will follow. Then, make decisions for your brand based on that message.

5. Reward supporters so they amplify your message

Pay attention to your fans. Give them a pleasant surprise (maybe a shout out on social media, a free sticker, one of your products, etc.), and you will instantly turn them into super fans. They won’t be able to stop talking about how awesome you are, and their captive audience will undoubtedly soon become fans too which turns into buyers.

This is how you create a brand that you – and your fans – will love. So, what are you waiting for?