Show a little gratitude

August 30, 2017

GratitudeI believe that gratitude is a brilliant marketing strategy. I’m astonished at how many businesses give their customers the distinct impression that they’re a little put out by having to sell them something.

You’ve felt it – the grocery clerk who is too busy chatting to actually make eye contact. The phone rep that can’t wait to get off the phone. The sales pro that doesn’t return your calls, even though you’ve told him you’re ready to buy.

It’s annoying and hardly breeds customer loyalty. But gratitude isn’t just for customers. I believe the smart business owner creates a continuous chain of gratitude and not only is it genuine, but it yields incredible benefits.

Here’s how the chain gets constructed. First – you demonstrate your gratitude to your employees. You then give them the tools to extend that same gratitude to your vendors and clients. Then, you invite your vendors and clients to recognize your employees for serving them well.

See how it goes full circle? When you cultivate and encourage the cycle, it just picks up steam and gets stronger and stronger. It’s like a snowball that keeps growing and accelerating as it speeds down the hill. Pretty soon, it’s been woven into your culture and becomes part of your reputation. That’s a pretty powerful brand attribute.

So how do you make it happen? You develop tools for each group of people in the cycle. Let’s start with the employees.

The good news is that this isn’t about more money. It’s about recognition and appreciation. Everyone wants to be noticed for doing a good job. You start by defining what “a good job” looks like. Be very clear in your own mind what character traits you want on your team. Interview for those soft skills and attitudes.

After you hire the right kind of people – train them well. Don’t just train them to be good at their job, train them to be grateful for the clients who bring the opportunities to your company. Help them understand how each client contributes to the bottom line.

Now – start catching them doing things right. This cannot be left to chance or it won’t get done. Create a peer recognition program, where employees can thank each other for going above and beyond. Read the nominations at an all staff meeting or share them on your intranet. Find a way to publicize the kudos they received. Personally stop by their office (or call them if they’re not local) and thank them for making a difference.

What’s the business rationale for this effort? A study of over 1,700 employees conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) indicated that more than half of all employees intended to search for new jobs because they felt underappreciated and undervalued. Further research on gratitude and appreciation documents that when employees feel valued, they have high job satisfaction, will work longer hours, build supportive relationships with co-workers and supervisors, and are happy to help the company achieve its goals.

On top of all that – they aren’t looking for other jobs. I don’t know about your industry but in my world it’s getting tougher and tougher to find qualified employees. So we want to keep the good ones that we have.

Beyond the employee peer recognition, there are other things you can do. On your employees’ anniversary with your company, why not acknowledge their contributions and how it’s impacted the company? Or send a note home, telling his/her family how they contribute to your organization.

Celebrate your employees and their wins. Be thoughtful, be personal and be sincere. But most of all – be genuinely grateful.

Next week, we’ll wrap up the cycle of gratitude by talking about how you can cultivate that among your vendors and customers.

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Do you want to take a stand?

May 17, 2017

take a standThe Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage dominated the news, social media and most conversations when it was announced.  Regardless of where you stood on the topic – you couldn’t help but be immersed in it.  And that wasn’t true for just individuals but, interestingly, for businesses as well. Many of them made a point to take a stand on this issue.

There used to be an unwritten rule that businesses stayed out of political and social discussions.  Unless the issue was one that united the entire country, like World War II – businesses kept their heads down and just stayed focused on business.

But times have changed and consumers have made it clear that they want to do business with organizations that share their values.  It’s as though a third element has been added to the buying decision.  Consumers are driven by their emotions when it comes to any purchase.  That emotion is often tempered or inflamed by facts or features. But today, those two buying elements are influenced by the world around us. Consumer’s beliefs and values are having a bigger and bigger impact on how they perceive and interact with brands.

In the past, we’ve seen lots of brands embrace causes that are tied to their product/service like Avon’s fight against breast cancer or Dawn’s support of wildlife affected by oil spills and other disasters.  But all of that seems pretty safe in comparison to taking a stand on a controversial issue.

In recent history, we saw both Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby take a strong stance on social issues and that decision both cost them and earned them customers who were either aligned or repelled by their position.  In some ways, it’s the essence of branding – show your heart and attract your sweet spot customers who believe as you believe and will value you even more because of that connection.

Many brands spoke out when the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage came out. They quickly reacted to the decision and came out to show their support of the ruling within hours of the announcement being made.

There are a myriad of marketing lessons to be taken from that decision and the responses to that huge societal event.

Your company has a heart: Only you/your leadership team can decide if you want to take a stand and on what issue.  But recognize that whether you speak out or not – there are issues that matter to you and your organization. You’ll have to decide if that should be a part of your company’s public persona or not. The risks are real but so are the rewards of attracting and connecting with people who share your values.

It can’t just be for show: If you’re going to step out of the shadows and express an opinion on a social or societal issue – you need to truly own it.  These are vital topics to your audience and any sign of you being in the fight just for appearances or financial gain will bite you in a big way.

A mile wide versus an inch deep: You can’t fight every fight. And odds are, you don’t have a strong conviction for every fight. You also don’t want to be perceived as a brand that just runs from cause to cause, trying to capitalize on them all.  These kinds of issues are typically very complicated and take a long time to resolve.  If you truly want to affect change (otherwise, don’t get into the fight), know you’re in it for the long haul.

Bottom line – it’s your call. But if you’re going to take a stand, remember that you need to be smart about which issues should earn your resources and your reputation.

 

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Music to my ears

February 1, 2017

music

As I was listening to one of my favorite playlists today, I was struck by how emotional music can be. A certain melody or specific song has an amazing ability to trigger our emotions in an instant. Ask any runner and they’ll tell you that one of the ways they set the tone for their run is by pre-programming the music they’ll listen to when they run. Many writers swear by the same technique and have spent hours putting together just the right mix of songs to inspire their work.

You’ve probably noticed how music impacts your reaction to TV commercials, videos, and podcasts. In the short run – it sets the tone and tempo for the piece and gets your emotions fired up. But in the long run – just the first notes of a familiar jingle can have you repeating the company’s tagline or theme song lyrics. And that connection lasts for decades.

If I could magically make this article play the first few bars of “I’d like to teach the world to sing” many of you over the age of 40 would be subconsciously reaching for a can of Coke before you could remember why. That campaign ran in 1971 and we still have that trigger embedded in our memory decades later. That’s powerful.

Music is a connector. It connects us to memories, people, and stories. Marketing is about making a connection with your audience.

You don’t have to be producing a multi-million dollar TV spot, video or audio show to leverage music’s impact. There are plenty of ways for marketers of all sizes and shapes to work music into their marketing plan.

Sponsorship: According to Billboard, live concert attendance is up over 20% and there are no signs it’s slowing down. What? You don’t have the budget to sponsor Madonna’s new tour? No worries – look no further than your own local music scene.  Most communities are producing some incredible local vocalists and bands that are performing on a regular basis.

Odds are these musicians haven’t had a lot of experience in being sponsored so you may have to carve out a deal from scratch. But just like the nationally known artists – each of these local talents has a following. Find the singer or group that has attracted the audience that matters to your business and see if you can strike up a deal.

Customize your music: If you’re creating a jingle or want to have a consistent piece of music associated with your company – don’t buy something off the shelf. Have a piece of music composed that you can own and use for years to come. And remember – sometimes the words are what makes a jingle stink. Instrumental music can be even more potent if it’s well written. Again – there are plenty of local composers who have both the talent and equipment to help you bring the musical spirit of your organization to life.

Set the mood with music: Whether you have a retail store or you deal with your customers over the phone – you have the opportunity to establish the tone of your interactions with music.

Here’s the key to this strategy that is often missed. If you are not the same age/demographic as your target audience, remember – it’s not about what you like, it’s what they like. Have you ever walked into the store Hot Topic at the mall? You immediately know (if you’re over 20) that you are not their target audience. Use your musical selections to create a welcome mat for your right fit customers.

Whether you’re putting together testimonial videos, a radio series or creating a live event – don’t forget to think long and hard about music and how you can elevate your results with it.

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Shhh, we’re secret shopping

January 11, 2017

Secret ShoppingIf there’s one marketing tactic that we execute for clients that always yields incredible results, it’s when we secret shop their operation. Without exception, a secret shopping program will:

  • Provide insights that surprise you (good and bad)
  • Spotlight specific areas where your training and communication have failed and you/your employees are hurting your brand
  • Uncover sales opportunities that you are letting slip through your fingers
  • Identify employees who are brand ambassadors and those who are actually doing damage to your reputation

We secret shop some of our clients every year and even though we’ve done it before – each time produces new insights and results. We always modify some aspects of their customer interaction, marketing, and employee training based on the results of the effort.

Many times we not only secret shop our own clients but we include their competitors as well. This produces an incredible wealth of new knowledge – from vulnerabilities to what they’re saying about their competition (you!) to prospects. Depending on the study – sometimes we don’t tell our operatives who the client is but at the end of the process, we ask them who they would hire/buy from. That’s always an eye opener!

If you’re a B2B leader/owner and are about to dismiss this as a retail marketing tactic – think again. We’ve done it for plenty of B2B clients with the exact same results. No matter what you sell – you interact with people to market and sell your offerings. We’ve done secret shopping on the web, over the phone, via email and in person (usually a blend of more than one throughout the sales cycle) and the learning is huge, no matter what you sell.

Like all marketing – doing it and doing it well are two different things. There are some elements of a secret shopping program that you’ll want to pay special attention to if you want reliable results.

This is not a DIY project: There are some marketing elements that you and your team are perfectly equipped to do on your own. This is not one of them. You need to bring in experienced outsiders who understand your industry but more important – understand how to effectively secret shop and report back the results.

You want to choose a firm who has professionals that are experienced in handling the entire secret shopping experience from initial contact to the final report. They need to be privy to your key messages, brand and sales process or they won’t be able to help you identify how to improve.

Create a safe environment: Secret shoppers often have to share less than ideal results with their clients. If you don’t make it perfectly clear that you’re ready to hear whatever they discover – it may make it difficult for them to be as candid as you need them to be. Prepare yourself – no matter how good you and your employees are – you’re not going to get a perfect grade. There’s always room for improvement.

Consistency is key: For the results to be meaningful, the experience needs to be consistent – all the shoppers need to look for the same things, ask the same sorts of questions, and grade the experience based on the same criteria. This allows you to know that the reported results aren’t an anomaly and should be reacted to – good or bad.

Next steps: The most important part of the secret shopping experience is that the company you hire can help you identify next steps to correct the issues and accentuate the positives. This will probably include employee training, some tweaks to your sales process and it may even include some changes to your product/service itself.

If you want to start your year off with a serious boost – consider a secret shopping program.

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Personal equals professional – we are one

November 9, 2016

personal equals professionalOne of the downsides of our digitally driven lives is that the dotted line is no more. What I mean by that is that you used to be able to artificially draw a dotted line in between your personal life and your professional life and to a great extent, you could control whether something would cross from one side to the other.   Not anymore.  Personal equals professional.

That dotted line was probably never as real or protective as we thought it was, but in today’s world, it no longer exists.

I just read a friend’s Facebook status and he said something to the effect of “I don’t like to blend my personal Facebook account with business, but we’re hosting a workshop that I am really proud of — so I’d like to invite all of you.”

This guy owns the company that is putting on the workshop. So in theory, his personal Facebook friends all know what he does for a living and some of them are probably even clients. But most of them are probably not fans of his official company page on Facebook. If he’d only announced it there, most of his Facebook connections would have missed it entirely.

And no one is going to unfriend him for mentioning his work alter ego on a site that some might deem for personal use only.

The truth is – there is no “personal use only” anymore. I actually think that’s better – don’t you want to know who you’re doing business with? Don’t you actually work better with someone when you know that they love rescue dogs, take an annual trip to the Tetons and hate the Yankees?

By the way, talking about your work/business is different from constantly hawking one’s wares. You shouldn’t be doing that at all – but especially not where people expect you to be social.

But the time of hiding your personal side from your professional side and visa versa is over. You aren’t two separate people and what you do outside of work and what you believe actually influences the work you do.

In fact, your personal brand – what you are all about, stand for, believe in, etc. is part of your professional brand. Personal equals professional.  And just like a company’s brand should inform and influence consumers – so should your personal one.

Regardless of which side of the Chick-fil-A fence you landed on, when the CEO, Dan Kathy, came out and talked about his personal beliefs and where he invests his company’s charitable dollars, I’m betting you suddenly had an opinion about that business. Even if you’d never eaten there before.

Did they lose customers over the controversy? Absolutely. But did they gain brand zealots who now go out of their way to support Chick-fil-A and spend even more money there? Absolutely.

The goal of branding is to locate your sweet spot customers. Those who are best aligned with you. Who you are – as a company, an employee of a company, and as a person can all help in that endeavor.

I’m not suggesting you can’t or shouldn’t have a private life that is actually private. But if you don’t want your prospective customers knowing your stance on a political issue, a family situation you’re facing or take offense at your secret love of all things Hello Kitty – then never, ever post about it online. Anywhere.

But stop artificially separating the two halves of you. It was probably never a good idea but in today’s world, it’s not only impossible but it feels very inauthentic. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust and that isn’t just about 50% of you.

Whether you are a geek freak, a Greek freak or a chic freak – let your flag fly and let it draw like-minded people to you and your business.

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Insincerity is not good for your brand

September 21, 2016

BrandI love it when employees really adopt their company’s brand and make it their own. That’s one of the ways you know that your brand has really woven itself into the culture of your organization. But it rarely happens by accident. In any brand process, part of the process should be about helping your employees understand and internalize the brand.

Then, you need to work with your team by job functions, helping each type of employee figure out how the brand influences their work. For example – if you’re a bank, how the tellers bring the brand to life will be very different from how the fraud department will live the brand.

Unfortunately, most companies take a shortcut that just makes their brand feel forced and artificial.

The first time I checked out at Walgreens and the clerk said “Be well,” I thought, well that’s cool – it fits with their whole brand and bravo to the clerk for making the brand her own.

After being in about five different Walgreens in several different states, I caught on. They had all been told to use “be well” as their farewell to customers. Suddenly the only thing “be well” communicated to me was a robotic script that completely lacked even an ounce of sincerity.

Probably not what Walgreens wants us to think about their “at the corner of happy and healthy” brand position.

That’s the problem with a lot of brands. You can’t just create a brand and slap it on your marketing materials. For a brand to actually mean something to your customers or your employees – it needs to be grounded in what you actually believe. It has to be built from your corporate values and be the sword you’re willing to fall on when there’s a conflict.

Your customers and employees have a pretty accurate BS meter and if your brand promise is superficial, they’re going to figure it out pretty quickly.  Here are some things that trigger the meter.

Hyperbole: When you use loaded words that seem hyped and exaggerated, it immediately makes people suspicious. Use language that your audience can connect with and relate to, rather than words that feel artificial or impossible to achieve.

When it’s rote: Much like my experience in Walgreens, there’s a fine line between creating consistency in how your brand is communicated and it being robotic and stale. How often have you thought that a customer service rep was just reading from a script and really didn’t care if he had “met or exceeded all of your expectations today?”

One size fits all: If your brand position is so generic to your industry that your competitor could adopt and reasonably honor your brand – it’s not really a brand position at all. It’s simply a statement of what everyone in your industry should be delivering.

When it’s nothing more than marketing speak: A genuine brand isn’t just a marketing tool. It’s a divining rod that helps direct the entire company. I should feel your brand in my interactions with every single employee. But that requires commitment and investment on your part. It’s just spin if you sprinkle it in your marketing but not work to make it a part of your organization’s foundation.

When it works on the outside, but not inside: Your brand promise needs to be just as true internally as it is with your best customers. Remember – a good brand is your values in action. Values aren’t situational. You can’t expect your employees to behave according to your brand if you don’t in your dealings with them.

A brand is a promise of what it’s like to do business with you. Insincerity can kill your chances of even having a shot at delivering on that promise.

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Let your benefits tell your story

July 6, 2016

benefitsLet your benefits tell your story.  What does that mean?  Most prospects and customers have no idea what your company’s mission statement or tagline is but they definitely know how they felt when they did business with you.  Those experiences spark more word of mouth marketing than anything else.

The interactions your employees have with your customers – be it in-person, on the phone or online, are often the foundation for how your business is perceived. Which makes those exceptional employees one of your most effective and valuable marketing assets.  Assets you do not want to lose.

Couple that truth with what sources like Bloomberg, The Economist and US News and World Report are saying about the oncoming high skilled labor shortage.  As businesses struggle to find new employees, it’s only natural they’re going to start trying to poach yours.

A strong benefits package actually packs a double wallop. There’s no doubt it will help you retain your best employees and keep them on the front lines, delighting your customers, but what many business owners don’t really understand is how much your benefits package can also build your brand internally.  By carefully creating benefits that speak to your core beliefs and values, you can weave those elements deep into your organization’s culture.

Many companies struggle with how to infuse their brand into their employee base in a way that rings true and will reinforce those beliefs so they get translated accurately in all customer interactions.  When an organization walks its talk, the employees don’t just hear the brand values, they see them in action.

Does your current benefits package actually reflect your company’s values and brand promise?

One way to think about your benefits from a more holistic point of view is to look at them by category.

Benefits that make life easier and communicate family, trust and life/work balance: This would include perks like time off, child/elder care, flexible work hours, and space, concierge services, discounts on legal services, counseling, personal space at work (lactation room, exercise room, etc), summer hours and gift cards/certificates.

Benefits that focus on the employee’s health and the importance of living a balanced and long life: There’s lots of room to get creative here beyond health insurance.  Don’t forget about benefits like gym discounts, long-term care insurance, wellness programs, a health risk appraisal, disability insurance, and access to health care options like eye, dental and mental health care coverage.

Benefits that help them grow professionally and speak to thought leadership, expertise and the value of helping others: Many employees know that the best way for them to earn more money is to be more valuable to the organization. Look for opportunities to give them career visibility, frequent feedback from managers, relationship networks, learning opportunities, trade or professional memberships, coaching or mentoring, education reimbursements and perhaps the best professional perk of all – an engaging culture.

Benefits that make your place the bomb and communicates fun, passion, serving the community and play: Not all benefits need to be traditional or ongoing.  A day at the ballpark, an internal paper airplane competition, a potluck just because, bringing in a chair massage service or working together for a charitable cause all create a workplace that’s hard to duplicate.

Benefits that help an employee build their wealth and demonstrate your belief in being prepared, rewarding performance and legacies: Beyond paying a fair salary, there are plenty of things you can offer to help an employee stay in the green.  Think about offering tax preparation discounts, access to financial planning services, bonuses, or retirement savings accounts with employer matches.

Use your benefits package to not only keep your employees happy but to remind them every day what you and your company are all about.

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How cause marketing can be smart marketing

September 30, 2014

Cause marketingIn the last 20 years, the term “cause marketing” came onto the horizon.

The whole idea was this: Many companies donate their time, their talent and their money to various charities, but it was done without anyone knowing about it or the company gaining any additional value from being a good citizen.

Some would argue that to give without any expectation of reward or recognition is the true definition of giving.

Perhaps that’s true. But it’s also very small.

Another word for small in this instance might be isolated. If I give five dollars to a charity and don’t tell anyone about it, the charity gets five dollars and I get a warm feeling inside. All good. But if I tell my friends about the charity and that I’m giving five dollars and invite them to do the same, now look at that I’ve created:

  • More awareness for the charity
  • Additional dollars donated to the charity
  • A community of people who believe in/care about the charity

Which do you think the charity would prefer?

Now, take that a step further. Rather than just telling my friends about it, what if I aligned my choice of charity with my customer base? Odds are I serve a group of people that I have a connection with and that I care about.

So if I look for a charity that would be important to them and to me, I can amplify the impact I can bring to the charity by engaging my entire customer base to rally around them.

When anyone talks about cause marketing, one of the examples they use is Avon and their commitment to fight breast cancer. They were pioneering in the idea of uniting a cause and a group of customers, for a greater good.

We’re all smart enough to recognize that Avon benefits from this alliance as well, in earned media exposure, creating a powerful connection to both their female customer base and their female employee base as well as increased sales.

None of that mitigates the good they do. It’s truly a win/win situation. Here’s how Avon talks about their efforts on their own website:

“One of the company’s largest ongoing projects is the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which is aimed at funding research and access to quality care. Now in its 20th year, the project has donated more than $740 million to the cause, making it one of the world’s leading corporate supporters of the fight against breast cancer. Among the successes that Avon lists on its website:

  • Linking more than 15 million women around the globe to early detection programs and mammography screenings
  • Educating 100 million women on breast health
  • Expanding into 55 countries
  • Enabling access to care for underserved populations
  • Providing $175 million to breast cancer research projects since 1999
  • Creating Love/Avon Army of Women, a program designed to accelerate the pace of prevention research by enlisting more than 350,000 women (potential study volunteers) for this effort.

Avon fundraises for these efforts through various methods like hosting the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series and selling Crusade Pink Ribbon fundraising products.”

I know your company probably doesn’t have the reach of an Avon, but you do have loyal customers who care about the world around them. And I’ll bet there’s a charity or cause that matters to you and that would matter to them if you made the introduction.

As you work on your 2015 marketing plan – I challenge you to weave in a cause marketing effort. There’s nothing that says marketing can’t also make the world a better place.

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Media coverage is not a given

January 16, 2014

NewspaperRoll_optI have the opportunity to review many business plans and one thing that always causes me some concern is that every business owner believes that they can generate a significant amount of marketing exposure by getting media coverage.

They pepper it throughout their plan because to them, it feels free and easy to get.

I  hate to tell you, but media coverage is not a given.

My concern comes from how unrealistic business owners, non profit directors and business leaders are about the type and amount of media coverage they’re going to be able to garner.

Here’s the reality check most need:

  • Most of what is newsworthy to you, is not newsworthy to the rest of the world.
  • Most reporters/editors are bombarded with news releases – yours has to stand out to even catch their attention.
  • Blinding sending your release to everyone is a sure to annoy most of them and reduce the likelihood of receiving any coverage.
  • Good manners go a long way.

Let’s dig into each of those reality checks to see if we can identity some best practices that will increase your chances of getting the coverage you want.

It has to actually be newsworthy: Earning media coverage can be daunting. Journalists have a finite amount of space/time and they have to decide which stories are going to be of value to their audience.

As you consider pitching a story, ask yourself – how would the reporter sell this story to his editor? What benefit or value would the reporter’s audience get? What could make this story so compelling that someone would share it with someone else who hadn’t seen the news coverage?

If these questions have you stumped, odds are the story isn’t newsworthy and you shouldn’t risk damaging your credibility by pitching it.

You have 3 seconds to peak their interest: Reporters and editors get buried in pitch phone calls, emails, faxes and snail mail releases. They can’t possibly read all of them thoroughly. They’re going to read the headline and scan the release, so you need to write it with that in mind.

Your headline will make or break you. If it doesn’t grab the editor’s attention, you’re headed for the “thanks but no” pile in a hurry. Make sure your headline makes them want to read more and tells them exactly why this is something their audience needs to know about.

Don’t let your laziness or ignorance cost you coverage: Because of my blog, I get pitches from PR pros and business owners every day. I’m often embarrassed by their efforts. They clearly got my contact information from some list – but have no idea what I write about.

Before you hit send be sure you’re sending it to the right reporter and the right publication. Take the time to review the last few issues/shows and get to know the kind of content they routinely cover. Don’t embarrass yourself or irritate the reporter by waving your laziness under their nose.

Say please and thank you: Never forget the importance of having decent manners. Be helpful, be available and be grateful if they tell your story.

More important than just simple good manners – don’t be a pain. Don’t call them incessantly to see if they got your release or if they’re going to use it. Don’t get ticked when they tell you “thanks but not this time” or it will be the last time. And if you really want to earn their appreciation and trust – you might give them a story or two that don’t involve you or your clients.

Earning media coverage takes some time, some preparation and some forethought. But most of all – it requires you take an objective look at your “news” and only pitch it when it’s worth pitching.

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We have to earn our audience’s attention

August 9, 2013

Listen Vs. Ignore - Toggle SwitchWe have to earn our audience’s attention.  Let’s see how you’re doing at that.

If you own or run a business, I’d like to you take this little quiz.

  1. Would you ignore your business phone 30% of the time it rings?
  2. If a customer was standing in a crowd of your best customers and complaining loudly, would you ignore them?
  3. If you had the chance to have the attention of your best customers and your best prospects for about 3 minutes uninterrupted, would you talk incessantly about yourself?

I have to believe that all of you passed this quiz by answered “good golly no!” to all three questions. After all you hustle like crazy to capture the attention of your customers and potential customers, right? Only a fool would squander the opportunity once they earned it.

And yet…that is exactly what’s happening online every day.

  • 30% of customer questions and comments on Facebook, Twitter and company blogs go unanswered.
  • 71% of complaints on Twitter are ignored.
  • 89% of corporate blogs only talk about themselves, their products, promotions and awards.

No wonder so many business people say that they can’t measure any ROI on their social media efforts. If anything, their ROI should come up as a negative number!

Too many businesses believe that social media networks are simply places they need to put a placeholder in. Like a flag that says, “Look, we exist here too” and then go to some autopilot shout into the abyss mentality. The core idea behind Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or any of the other networks out there is connection.

Real, human connection.

It’s why people share photos, stories of their day and get fired up about politics, religion and what their kid’s school is up to. And into that very personal and very meaningful conversation – most brands just blunder in and shout that they are having a sale.

Ugh.

Businesses spend thousands (and some millions) of dollars putting on elaborate dog and pony shows, with the hopes of capturing someone’s attention for a millisecond. So the assumption would be that they would actually value the attention, once they’d earned it.

But the truth is, most businesses think of social media as the newest necessary evil. They can’t get out of their own way enough to see the potential in it or that they need to approach it with humanity for it to work.

So what would that humanity look like?

Real interactions: When someone talks to you, it’s polite to reply in a reasonable amount of time. If you can’t monitor and react to a social media stream – don’t be there. Every social media tool out there has a way for you to be notified if you’ve actually started or were mentioned in a conversation.

Conversation, not monologue: No one enjoys being talked at. Your goal should be to spark conversation, not spit out rhetoric. Conversations are started when we care about the other person and ask questions, offer helpful information and listen to what they need from us.

Consistency: Just like all of our other relationships – we grow connections partially because of frequent exposures. You can’t get to know someone very well if you only communicate once or twice a year. It’s better to be fewer places but be in the places you’ve chosen more often. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Having a heart: If you don’t actually care – then don’t be there. If you genuinely care about your customers and what’s going on with them, then show that by asking questions, reaching out and being very human.

You can create an amazing referral source and client base with your online presence or you can alienate those who already have you on their radar screen. All it takes is a little humanity to make it work.

 

 

 

 

 

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