I have recently reprioritized my life, my work and my projects and it's a gift that keeps giving. One of the main things I'm doing now, and I'm so happy I managed to make time for this, is having one day a week where I learn, relearn, reread, listen to podcasts and basically just try to develop my skills as a human being, as an entrepreneur and as a digital marketing consultant. In this week's "teaching moments" I watched three webinars, all on different aspects of marketing and pitching your idea to consumers and influencers that got me to this conclusion:
Marketers, Influencers and Consumers have one very essential thing in common. We are above all: human beings. And we have a need for socializing, being understood and valued for what we are and what we are trying to accomplish.
We all look for value in what we do, in the relationships we build with others and in how we live our lives. We are built to learn every day of our lives and have a strong inclination for inter-human socializing. We award a lot of trust in something a friend will recommend - we are genetically oriented toward learning from others, an easy thing to forget these days. However, for some reason, brands and marketers tend to forget this basic information.
Human communication is important, efficient and should be a starting point in any marketing strategy.
There are countless marketing and sales aspects where connecting with the human on the other end should be the starting point of any branding strategy. Some disregard it completely. Others overdo it and alienate consumers and potential clients. From blogging to email marketing, customer support, and influencer marketing, every single one should be focused around initiating and sustaining a conversation with the person at the other end. Not a client. Not an influencer. Not a Marketing Manager. Not a HR recruiter. But a HUMAN BEING.
Sometimes it can get confusing. In digital marketing, you're supposed to have a worthwhile, somehow one-sided conversation with someone that isn't in front of you, but (perhaps) thousands of miles away, on a different time zone. You only get a few seconds to make a good first impression and convince that person to browse more pages in your website, subscribe to your newsletter or purchase your product. In that short time span your brand needs to be friendly, charismatic, welcoming and confident. Imagine a party where you only get to meet people for a couple of seconds before you move on to the next person. Could you charm the socks off those party guests within seconds?
We forget this basic truth: people buy from people, not from brands.
I have seen brands (and even myself) make some of these common mistakes:
- Assuming a potential client already knows who you are, what you're selling and why you're the best at it.
- Overwhelming email subscribers with automated sequences that only talk about how great you are and give no information as to what their benefits will be when purchasing a product or a service.
- Disregarding emotion in communications or overdoing it with emotional messages that somehow trick visitors into becoming customers.
- Customer care robots or emails that lead a client or potential client through countless procedures without offering solutions.
- Disregarding clients' individual personalities, quirks, passions and needs.
- Ignoring the need for consistency in marketing efforts and being all over the place with campaigns, messages, products, services, pricing and policies.
- No brand integrity.
- Not signing emails with an actual staff name, not giving an actual human contact for sales or customer care, not showing the team members on the website.
- Websites that completely disregard a buyer's journey.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Please feel free to share some of the mistakes you've noticed or made (honesty is good) in the comment section below.
Personally, the most annoying mistake of those mentioned above has to do with the automated email sequences. Most get way too overwhelming way too soon. This is, in fact, one of the other reasons I started writing this post. I had become aware of it after I bought a digital course on Instagram marketing. The issue was that even before I had taken the first class I was already receiving about two emails per day which were not notifications, progress checkups or any sort of useful things related to my actual course. It was the teacher sending case studies and a ton of information that got lost very fast in my inbox.
Like most people, I don't have the mind space or time (or desire for that matter) to read every single email that pops in my inbox, the moment I receive it. For unimportant email I have one hour a week when I go through everything that seemed interesting at some point, open, read through and decide whether I delete it or follow the links within to read more. When I have more than 10 emails from the same brand/company/source in one week, I will read the last two and delete everything sent earlier without paying too much attention.
Needless to say, I was not getting all that much value from those emails so I wrote back and advised them to cut down on the email frequency. It's way too much. Funny thing, they didn't even wrote back but kept me in the same automation funnel. I haven't opened any email from them for a month now. I'm waiting to see when (or if) they clean up their list.
The thing is: I can't even be upset about it. I get it. At some point, experienced or not, we all tend to make this mistake: we forget there is a human being on the other end. We request his or her attention but at times we forget they have their own life, quirks, needs, desires, and preferences.
In this digital world, where we can all connect within seconds, we forget about the value of establishing relationships
Truth is, in online, brands and consumers tend to have a one-sided conversation. Whenever we navigate a website we ask ourselves questions and expect to find answers easily, right there on the website. Basically, brands need to read visitors' minds and provide the answers at the right time. When that doesn't happen or we feel like we didn't get all the needed info, we will call or write to customer support. However, there are brands that make it insanely complicated to get that additional info. There is no public email for customer care, you can't contact them on social media through private messaging and to make things even worse, their idea of customer care is browsing through hundreds of pages until you find your answer. If you're patient enough, that is.
Customer care shouldn't be a hassle
I find brands that aren't invested in their customer care to be arrogant and disrespectful of their website visitors and clients. This is the first human interaction between a potential customer and your brand that can break or make your business. It's where you can set yourself apart and announce your brand is trustworthy and worthwhile a customer's investment of time and financial resources. Personally, I have come to tremendously appreciate companies that do customer care well. It's one of the reasons I will recommend them to my clients and peers and even decide to do business with them. Shopify and Squarespace are some of the companies that do it really well.
So, before you go about your day, here's something to remember:
“The consumer is not a moron, she’s your wife” - David Ogilvy
More on the subject of good customer care: