Do you have a certain dish at a favorite restaurant or at family gatherings that you’ve come to know, love and crave? Maybe it’s an amazing main dish, a favorite type of cuisine, or an old-fashioned recipe that’s been handed down and is served only once a year. Have you ever wondered what makes it so craveable?

More often than not, it’s the way it’s prepared – or a key ingredient or sauce you simply can’t find anywhere else. And that one special thing is so powerful, it makes you crave that dish like a bad habit.

Clients often ask me if I know why some companies grow more quickly than others, and I think it has a lot to do with their “secret sauce.” A compelling brand is like a secret sauce for companies. It gives them the “it” factor – that something that reels customers in and keeps them satisfied, time after time. It’s unique, it’s authentic, and it permeates their presence in the market.

So how do you come up with your own sauce? I believe it starts with the power of human connection. It’s your ability to connect your business and your brand with your customers in an authentic, meaningful way. It’s listening to and really understanding your audience. It’s sitting down face to face and finding out what they truly want and need – and then providing it. It’s knowing that your product or service stands for something more. And it’s having a tone as an organization that sounds real, and not like marketing-speak.

The human connection boils down to a simple truth. It feels genuine. It’s relatable. It’s impactful. And it stands for something larger than what you’re selling. It’s KIND snacks going out into the community and performing KIND acts because that’s what’s in line with their mission. It’s Virginia Women’s Center understanding the deep level of care and attention every patient needs and then working hard to provide just that. It’s Hanover Fire-EMS sharing what a day in the life of a local hero looks like and then humbly asking the community to join them.

I recently attended a conference for business owners and had an exciting opportunity to hear marketing author Seth Godin speak about leadership in today’s world of business and branding.  He said that the successful companies are the ones that are focused on the art of making a difference. In order to be successful and grow quickly, companies need to focus on establishing deep roots – and those roots are human connection points.

Marketing is about so much more than just selling products. It’s more than specialized expertise in a particular industry or meticulously tracking a hard ROI (which is still important!). It’s sharing how well you know your customer and connecting with them in a deep, meaningful way. It’s a human truth that should spread through every fiber of your organization and be the basis of how you do business. That’s the secret sauce.


"Lauren Sweeney"

Lauren Sweeney is the Founder and CEO of Dotted Line Collaborations, a full-service marketing agency solving big brand problems from our headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. When Lauren’s not providing strategic direction for the firm or delivering results for our clients, Lauren is outdoors enjoying all that Richmond has to offer or traveling to a new and exciting destination.