The other day, Argentina played Nigeria in a World Cup game. Although I didn't watch the match, because I live in Buenos Aires, I knew immediately when Argentina scored the game-winning goal. I could hear everyone in my building cheering and banging on the walls. Outside I saw a man across the way yelling with his shirt off, pumping his fists in euphoric celebration. 

When I scrolled through Instagram, I saw photos and videos of my local friends at work with their colleagues glued to the television. This scene in Argentina is replicated all over the world for rabid fans of the World Cup.

The fanaticism isn't just because fans love the sport. They do it for a deeper reason: the World Cup connects with fans in an emotional way. It transcends the sport and taps into deep-rooted feelings of identity, pride, and love of country.

This cultural event makes people around the world feel on a deep level. Combine those feelings with the sense of connectedness that comes while watching it together with others, and the impact the event has is magnified.

Because of the feelings the World Cup taps into and induces, you see images like this one, a grandmother blessing each player on her beloved Mexico team (through television), as they sang their national anthem before their opening match.

Develop stronger emotional connections with your customers.

Tap into what is happening in culture. When you tune into what is already going on in your customers' world and find a way to make your brand a part of a conversation that has existing meaning for your customers, you set yourself up to connect with them at a deeper level.

The Argentine actor in the video below saw his career take off overnight after the video quickly went viral. He'd posted hundreds of videos previously, but none garnered anything near the type of response as the one below.

The key difference was that this one tapped into what was going on in culture in an authentic way. As a result, it connected with many people. And because of that connection, they shared it, and shared it, and shared it again.

Paul Marobella is the CEO and chairman of Havas North America, one of the world's largest digital, creative, media and entertainment agencies. His team at Havas works with brands such as Coke, Hamburger Helper, and TD Ameritrade.

Paul told me why brands should expand their thinking about the way they communicate with their customers:

You have storytelling and creativity...so it isn't just about advertising, it's about how can culture and creativity be a part of helping brands connect with consumers in more emotional, personal ways. 

Tapping into the culture helps your brand stay relevant. It demonstrates that your company is in tune with important issues happening in the world. And it gives you the opportunity to deliver experiences that are not only remarkable, but that let your customers understand that you get them.

Leveraging what is happening in culture helps you create an environment that makes your customers feel like they belong with you.

But even though this is an effective approach to marketing, many companies struggle to do it. Marobella explains why this happens:

And what's interesting is that we often find that the people that are making decisions, whether that's the agencies or that's the client side, aren't typically tapped into what's happening with their customer base. And it's our job as their creative and cultural partner to help demonstrate to them how tapping into certain veins of culture will drive and grow their business. 

To effectively tap into the culture, you have to be a part of it. And unfortunately, many business leaders aren't. Last week one of my clients showed me his calendar for the past few weeks. It was blocked with back to back to back to back meetings.

He was working hard to do his job well, but doing his job left very little time for him to spend time with customers, tinker around with or stay abreast of industry tools and trends. And because his work days are so intense, outside of work, all his attention goes to relaxing and spending time with his family.

This is a familiar scenario for many. That's why it is important as a leader to create space for your team, as a part their daily work to not only know what is going on in culture but to provide opportunities to become part of it. Or at the very least, hire partners who can.

The deeper connection you develop with your customers, as a result, will be more than worth it.

Published on: Jun 29, 2018