Most business leaders are big fans of what their companies do. They believe in the value of their products and services and, God bless them, they should. But good marketers realize that just because clients are convinced that everyone needs what they’re selling doesn’t mean it’s self-evident to prospective purchasers.
The primacy of content to effectively engaging customers is widely acknowledged, so much so that it’s almost a cliché. But enthusiasts, even in the marketing profession, can lose sight of what is compelling content to people who are not yet fans, and that myopia works against effective communications. As all good salespeople know, it’s essential to ask for the sale, but the moment for doing that comes at the end of a process of establishing rapport with the customer.
For companies this means trying to open a real dialog with their target audience(s). As marketers our role is to create scenarios that tap into consumers’ needs, even their anxieties. We – and our clients – need to listen and show we understand what’s “keeping someone up at night.” Then we should suggest a meaningful resolution. And the solution can’t just be the company’s product or service, unless we can integrate that into a real world example of how the product/service helped someone in a similar situation. Ideally, this should use that individual’s words, not the company’s, which means it may be a lot less promotional than many clients want.
For example, quoting a parent about how magical taking his or her child for the first time to a production of “The Nutcracker,” and inviting other parents to post their stories of meaningful first-time experiences with their children is more engaging to someone worried about providing good family experiences, than ad copy, no matter how creative.
We marketers are lucky today because the explosion of digital social media has created more avenues for connecting with customers than ever before – and there are new ones popping up constantly. We just must remember, and help clients understand, that the content can’t be simply me, me, me. For more insights on how to leverage digital media to connect with customers, read this article from Ad Age online: “Culture is Critical to Customer Engagement in 2015.”