This story was originally published on CRM Buyer on Nov. 14, 2018, and is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT News series.
I don’t have to tell you how difficult it is to find and attract customers online. With millions and millions of businesses all vying for attention, the Internet has quickly turned into a very crowded place. But, believe it or not, there’s opportunity in all that clutter, and if you approach your marketing and visibility right, you can easily rise to the top.
However, it does require work and commitment. So, if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and getting a little dirty, you’re in exactly the right place.
What I’ve found is the easiest way to get customers to pay attention to you is to have them WANT to pay attention to you. (Easier said than done, I know.) How do you do that?
Memorable Customer Experience
Well, first off, never forget that your customers are real, live breathing people. I know, that sounds obvious. But, look at how dehumanizing our marketing language is:
- Visitors to our website are “traffic.”
- Prospects are “leads.” Some of them are “cold leads” and some are “warm leads.”
- Our email subscriber list is often shortened to just “list.”
- People who attend our events are referred to as “butts in seats.”
- And so on.
These words strip the humanity away from our customers, which then makes it easier to focus on the results of our marketing activities, versus how they make our customers feel.
Now, does that mean I don’t believe in businesses having a good return on their investment? Absolutely not. I am a big believer in businesses making money and being profitable. I also believe if you treat your customers in the manner you would like to be treated, they’ll feel the difference and reward you with their attention.
Remembering the person behind the customer is just the beginning. To create an environment where your customers want to pay attention to you, it’s important to create an amazing and unique customer experience.
How do you do that? Well, what do your customers want? Other than a solution to what’s keeping them up at night (which is likely what you’re offering in your business).
They want what most humans want, which is to connect and feel a part of a community.
That’s one of the main reasons why social networking took off as it did. People have a deep need to connect and build relationships with other people. That need to connect is SO deep, it extends past other people to pets and even inanimate things, such as businesses.
So, the more you can create an environment that makes your customers feel connected and part of your community, the better. How do you do that? Here are four ways you can start.
1. Offer Content That Connects
You’ve likely heard that content is king, especially online. One of the main reasons people use the Internet is to be educated, so tapping into that seems like a smart marketing strategy. Except … there’s a lot of content out there.
So, how do you make your content stand out from everyone else’s?
First, make sure your content is top quality. Don’t just phone it in. There’s already a ton of content out there that’s been phoned in, the Internet doesn’t need any more.
Second, make sure it’s content your customers really want. Get super clear what your ideal clients customers want to learn from you, and give it to them.
Third, present the content in a format your customers prefer. So, if your customers prefer watching videos, give them video content. If they prefer to read, give them written content. If they prefer pictures or infographics, do that.
However, it goes even deeper than that. Do your customers prefer a more formal style of learning or something more fun and light? Do they prefer lots of stories or a straight forward how-to piece?
Your customers will feel more connected to you if you’re giving them content they want in a format they prefer.
OK, so what if you sell a product? How do you create content that way?
Bulletproof Coffee has a huge blog where it shares a ton of content on different uses of its product (for instance, there’s an article as I’m writing this about how to use Bulletproof Coffee as a hair mask) as well as other lifestyle and exercise tips.
Part of Bulletproof Coffee’s brand is that it’s “good” for you, so therefore sharing content that helps you improve your health and life is a perfect fit.
If you sell a product, ask yourself what the end result of using your product is? What’s the big benefit your customers are getting? Can you create content around that?
Start there and see where that leads.
2. Entertain Wisely
Business guru Dan Kennedy once said you can’t bore your customers into buying from you. In many cases, your customers are looking to be entertained — and if they can be entertained while getting the content they’re looking for, all the better.
There’s no question that being entertaining is easier for some people. If you’re naturally funny and can easily work humor into your content (and your customers are looking for the humor) then this is a natural. But even if you aren’t a comedian, you can still be entertaining.
How? By using stories.
Stories are the ultimate way to connect. As humans, we are naturally wired to respond to stories. In fact, the old fairy tales were actually morality lessons. The story was the sugar coating around the lesson.
Just telling your kids not to trust the strange woman in the forest likely won’t do much. Turning that woman into a witch who owns a gingerbread house and wants to eat them? That’s a lot more memorable.
So, where do you find stories, especially if you’re in a business that doesn’t lend itself to storytelling? You can always share stories about your life, especially if a story can illustrate a point.
For instance, I share a lot of stories around my journey as an entrepreneur. I’ve owned my own business since 1998. I started as a freelance copywriter, and eventually founded a copywriting company servicing clients all over the world.
When you share stories about your life, especially as it relates to your expertise, you’ll likely find your customers responding to you. Remember, they want to connect with you. Even if you’re just sharing stories about your children or your pets, it still brings a human element to your content. People can start to see the person behind the business.
You also can use stories from your clients or customers. These can double as testimonials for your offerings, which can make them even more powerful.
3. Acknowledge Your Imperfections
This one is a toughie. It took me a long time to get comfortable sharing my vulnerability. I thought my customers would only want to work with me if I was “perfect.” But that’s actually not the case.
Nobody is perfect, and if you come across too perfect, you risk not coming across as relatable. People want to know there’s a real person behind the business, and showing your vulnerability is a great way to do that.
In addition, when you show your vulnerability, you don’t seem so “far ahead” of your customers. Your customers may not believe your solution can actually help them, because you’re so much more of an expert than they are. Now, there are a couple of caveats with this.
First, make sure you don’t undercut your expertise. So, for instance, if you’re a coach, and you find yourself stuck in your own way one day, don’t talk about how you hired your own coach to get yourself unstuck (especially if that’s what you do for your clients). Your customers may decide they would rather hire your coach and not you.
Instead, in that situation, maybe share how you reconnected with your own system and got yourself unstuck. See the difference? (However, only share that if it’s true.)
Also, don’t share your vulnerability when you’re in the middle of your vulnerability. So, don’t talk about being stuck when you’re stuck. Talk about it after you’ve resolved it. If you talk about your vulnerability when you’re in process, it’s more difficult to keep your emotions out of it. (In other words, you risk coming across as defensive or defeated or some other emotion that will turn off your customers.)
People want to hear a resolution. They don’t want to hear about how you got stuck in something and are still stuck. They have enough things that aren’t resolved in their own lives — they don’t need to hear about yours.
Sharing your vulnerability is definitely a skill. When I first started doing it, I remember I got a private message from someone telling me they knew a great therapist if I wanted a recommendation. So … yeah. Not how I wanted to come across.
Anyway, all was not lost. People still continued to hire me, and I learned how to share my vulnerability without coming across like I needed therapy.
Now, if this is just too scary, then start small. Share your personality. Show the little foibles that make you you. Share from your life perspective. The more your customers can see your personality, the more they’ll feel connected with you.
So, this is all well and good if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, but what if you’re a bigger company?
Well, then what you can do is create a brand personality and interact with your clients that way.
Take Zappos, for instance. It sells shoes and clothes, and yet it has a fun brand “voice” that sends cheery and whimsical emails and newsletters that make you want to open and read its marketing materials.
If you sell a product, do some work around what sort of brand your customers want to interact with, and give them that.
4. Invite Interactions
This is the most obvious one when you think about creating an environment where your customers can connect with you, but it’s amazing how many businesses overlook it.
Create ways for your customers to talk to you. Maybe you ask questions on social media or your blog (and respond to their comments). Maybe you provide a Facebook group or space where your customers can go to chat with you and other customers.
Maybe you create contests, such as having them post photos of themselves interacting with your product and tag you.
Be creative. How can you get your customers involved not only with your products and services, but also with your company? How can you position yourself as a trusted resource where your customers want to connect with you?
Lastly, remember that this is going to take some time.
Just because you go out and start a Facebook group doesn’t mean your customers will stream in and start interacting with you. Relationships take time. Trust takes time. Do the work, trust the process and give yourself time to let the magic happen.
Michele PW (Pariza Wacek) is the author of the “Love-Based Business” series of books that share how to sell more with love and build a solid, profitable business on a foundation of love. In addition, she owns a copywriting and marketing company along with writing and publishing fiction.This post was originally published here