Have you ever had a friend who only talks about herself? While that person may enjoy talking at you for some time, eventually you’ll grow so tired of hearing only about her that you no longer listen.
Now swap your self-centered friend for a business. Have you ever been on the receiving end of self-centered marketing? Be it social media, newsletters, emails- whatever- the message is just about them. Recent wins, what they’re doing, why they’re best. After a while, like you did with your self-absorbed friend, you stop listening.
So how do you stay front of mind without your intended audience tuning out? Here are a few pointers:
Let’s face it, most people decide to follow a business on social media or sign up for newsletters to get something. Whether deals, discounts, preferred treatment of some sort, or valuable information, you can assume your followers are there to benefit themselves in some way. Deals and discounts are obvious benefits, but what if that’s not something you offer? What can you give your audience that will keep them listening? Is there knowledge you can share for free? What about offering curated content from around the web that they’d find interesting or that would help them stay informed of innovations in their industry? Can you offer ‘office hours’- free time where they can connect with you via chat or phone? The investment in giving them a little something while building rapport and trust can pay off big in the long run.
Pantone, a provider of color systems and technology for the selection and accurate communication of color is the world-renowned authority on color, largely due to their marketing efforts. Every year, every type of designer- fashion, product, graphic- look to see what Pantone will name as the color of the year. They look for forecasts and reports on the color landscape to inform their designs. The company gives their market what they want: insights, ideas, inspiration, and has positioned themselves as the absolute authority on color in doing so.
Another example of a company who shares thought leadership and provides insightful information to their market is Product Development Technologies (PDT). Full disclosure here: this is the company for which I ran marketing for 15 years. As a product design and development consultancy, product managers from manufacturers large and small go to them to get help creating the next breakthrough product. After attendance at various industry trade shows around the globe each year, the team sorts through what they saw in terms of design trends and emerging technologies, and provides a free report on what they think is worth noting. Product designers and engineers leverage these reports in understanding what’s happening in myriad industries, to inform their future product planning, to be inspired and informed. A full list of available reports can be found here: http://www.pdt.com/insights.html
Your audience is likely on information overload. They’re instagramming, snap chatting and tweeting. They’re getting emails, texts, and IMs. The TV is on, tablet’s in hand and the phone is ringing. What are you doing to cut through the noise and make them pay attention to you? What about using humor? Can you make a game? What about creating some trivia? Think about what gets and keeps your attention and remember that when creating communications for your business.
Office Depot/Office Max always comes to mind this time of year for me as a great example with their ‘Elf Yourself’ site. http://www.elfyourself.com/ How many businesses can claim that their holiday card has been proactively interacted with well over 1 billion times? It’s light-hearted, fun, it encourages sharing with others and has become part of the brand that people love and look forward to during the biggest retail season of the year.
The main issue we have with our friend from earlier is that there’s no two-way conversation with her. Just as none of us want to constantly be talked ‘at’ by a friend, we don’t want that from a business either. There are several ways to converse with your market. Simple polls on social media show you’re interested in their opinions. Overtly asking their opinions on a topic, product idea or initiative is also an easy way to show you value their insights and strengthen your product offering with experiences your customer really wants.
Starbucks has taken it a step further with their MyStarbucksIdea.com webpage and twitter feed, where they actively seek fresh ideas and input from their customers. The true power of this initiative is that the company really listens and implements some of the best ideas, giving their market affirmation of their importance and value.
The goal of communication, whether personal or business, should be to share information, feelings, ideas. It should be clear, and it should flow both ways. And hopefully, at least most of the time, be beneficial and enjoyable. Do your business communications meet these criteria? If not, let’s talk.
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