We’re all trying to find that magic formula that will bring customers to your door. When a brand is able to make a personal connection with a customer they increase sales, increase loyalty , and create brand ambassadors. But HOW do they do it?
Step 1 to creating a connection is understanding who they are!
We all know that understanding your main customer type is important. Their preferences, their style, economic factors, etc. are all super important – and if you haven’t sat down and figured out your target customers you’re going to want to do that right now. Knowing your customer is the first step to developing an impactful marketing strategy.
Understanding your customer should guide your brand’s style, your website’s design, your retail store’s layout and esthetics, your pricing, your advertising messaging and medium. Basically, it guides your WHOLE BUSINESS. I’ve chatted with a small business owner that explained that EVERYONE was his target market. It’s not. While you might think that you want as much business as possible so you want to target the whole world, it’s just not realistic. You have to sit down and think about who would be your ideal potential customer for your products and services and develop your brand story around them.
Step 2 to creating a connection is understanding how to communicate with them
Now that you understand more about your customer, let’s talk about how to communicate with them. This encompasses the medium (in-person, email, phone, social, etc.) and the message (how you communicate to them, and what you communicate about).
In our current climate the way we talk to our audience has changed dramatically. The personal one-on-one chats are extremely limited. We’re stuck with more impersonal ways of trying to connect – but that doesn’t mean you can’t.
Create a touchpoint where they are:
1. Social Media
Social media platforms are constantly struggling between fun videos and advertising mixes. If you want people to become invested in you, a mix of fun and informative content mixed into your marketing message is important. What you publish will go back to your target customer’s likes and dislikes. You may find the best engagement through publishing videos of you (or your staff), giving interesting informational tidbits, fun at work, and doing product promos. Having these very personal videos allows the users to feel like their not only getting to know you – but also your business. Before you begin:
Pick the social platform(s) where your target customer is.
Decide on the type of communication that your customer prefers. Do they want free information and tips? Do they want fun and silly or polished and professional? Are they more engaged with static images or video?
The main point here is to make your business look like you are an approachable source for what they need. You should absolutely comment back to people that comment on your posts. This ensures that they know that you’re engaged, that you’re paying attention and that you’re willing to create that personal connection.
Dealing with grudges and attacks on social media can be nerve wracking. The way you handle negative comments is seen by EVERYONE so this is not the place for a knee jerk reaction. Take a break, take a walk, discuss with someone else how you should respond. Your response will literally build or deplete your followers. For more information on how to respond to negative reviews and comments, check out my blog post on Google Reviews.
2. Video Content
Video content has exploded. Like, Big Bang — exploded. A whole new world has been created. Are you in it? YouTube now has over 2 Billion (with a big ‘ole “B”) logged-in users each month! Everysingleday people watch over a billion hours of video and generate billions of views! (Source: YouTube)
Before you try and jump on this bandwagon you need to ask yourself 2 questions.
Is this where my audience is looking for content?
Do I have the resources to create constant, ongoing, unique content that has value?
Let’s look at a current success story: Buzzfeed’s Tasty has built over 20.1 Million YouTube subscribers. They post a new video about every 3 days or less. Their videos feature cooking tips from multiple chefs, that cover all types of cooking styles. They also feature fun food and cooking challenges like making the world’s largest burger or making a 3 course meal in 20 minutes or less.
Why does it work? Their content is perfect for YouTube’s younger age demographic. It combines the love of food, with learning and comedy. Guides / tutorials and product reviews are among YouTube’s top 5 highly watched +categories – so it’s the perfect platform for their content type. Tasty is then able to market to their audience by teaching them how to use the products they’re promoting.
Podcasts have very much become a more intimate touch point. Many podcasts take personal requests from their listeners and chat about topics that are timely and relevant. People are choosing podcast creators that they trust – so when that cast prompts a product or service, listeners are more apt to trust that their podcaster is promoting a quality product.
As of 2017 – 50% (60 million) of all US homes are podcast fans and 45% (68 million) listen to podcasts weekly. And although we don’t have the most current statistics we do know that this has increased dramatically from 2017. (Source: Nielsen Q3 2017 Podcast Insights)
The total podcast audience is growing at a compound average growth rate of 20% and the US audience could double by 2023. (Source: Nielsen)
According to podcasthosting.org 60% of podcast listeners have bought something from a podcast ad.
3 out of 4 podcast listeners in the US say they tune in to learn new things (Source: Statista, 2019)
To be successful in podcasting is extremely time consuming – so you may find that you’d rather partner with an already established podcast that is within your target market. Being a guest on an already established podcast could help you touch a whole new area of your target market. Chatting can really help people better understand who you are, and what you can offer. Don’t forget that giving people free information and help can actually make them feel an attachment to you and your business.
4. Website Live Chat
Responding to a question the moment it’s asked is GAME CHANGING. Consumers today expect access to immediate information that will help them make a decision in real time. Think about the number of times you’ve been on a website, had a question, but either you couldn’t find a way to contact them, or the only contact was via an email message and you had no idea when you’d receive an answer. The likelihood that you went to a competitor website is extremely high.
Having a live website chat allows clients to quickly ask questions, while never leaving your site. It also has the benefit of increasing reliability, trust, and increasing sales! Chatters tend to spend 60% more per purchase according to an Invesp survey. If a visitor engages with a live chat agent, they’re 2.8 times more likely to end up purchasing a product. Why? You’re valuing a customer’s time, listening to their issues, and helping to solve them!
“As consumers we are looking for a more personal connection with brands and finding ways to create that connection is key for marketers. Being genuinely interested in your customers will pay dividends long term.”
Joolz Joseph FCIM
There are any number of free and paid website plugins that can add a chat function to your site. Make sure that you’re ready to connect when they are active, and if there are times when no one is available make sure that you’re honest with them about when you’ll be able to connect with them.
5. Email Campaigns
I think when we talk about email campaigns we first have to ask the question – do they even work anymore? The simple answer is yes they do. The less-simple answer is – only when done well.
“The fundamental principle behind email marketing will never change. Send the right message, to the right person at the right time. No brand marketer sets out to send an unwanted email. The difficulty is; to know what the right message is, for whom and when.”
Tim Watson, Zettasphere
If email is your target market’s preferred contact method:
Create authentic personalized content. They don’t want content that’s meant for everyone – they want content that is structured to their needs and past purchases. Think of dynamic content, behaviour based segmentation & utilization of AI.
“If you are not getting personal you are not connecting. So get personal.”
Joolz Joseph FCIM
Ensure fantastic customer experience (CX) – It’s about considering their needs and ensuring that you’re making their journey as simple as possible.
6. Phone (or video) Calls
Yes, calling people still a thing (Gen-Z shudders). Phone calls do generally appeal to a mid to older demographic but it really depends on your market whether this can be used at all. (If you’re a retail store you’re not going to call all your customers). But for certain industries this is still an extremely important touchpoint. Call your client to catch up, see how they’re doing, if you can help with anything. It can remind them that you are there, and quite often can lead to a sale right there.
Some things to remember:
Be conscious of their time. You may phone just to say “Hi” and ask to set up a meeting at a more convenient time. Don’t assume they have time right that minute for a long chat.
They may expect a sales pitch. Assure them that you’re just wanting to check in with them personally. It’s been a tough year! If a person sounds defensive, you may not want to talk business at all – and that might seem frustrating – BUT you will work on creating a real personal connection so that the next time they need something – they’ll think of you.
Overall creating personal connections with your customers means spending time WITH your customers, and meeting them WHERE THEY ARE. This is a time investment that you will not likely regret. The information you get back from these connections will help you shape your business to better meet the needs of the people you serve.