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Every marketing professional should become a social worker
A long, long time ago, in the land of Marketing, there were things every marketer did, and they worked great. Many smart and effective marketing rules were created. They were religiously followed by every marketer and studied in colleges and drilled about at interviews and the like. The problem is, that was all a long time ago, and times have changed. Of course, we all know that old habits die hard. The days when a single ad in a newspaper sent homemakers to buy a new toaster or a new vacuum are gone. We're surrounded by visual noise. We stopped paying attention to it ― we learned to tune it out. Old school marketers are not trained to give out empathy, and this is a problem. Many of them have turned their attention to making more noise. But there is another way.
Empathy is the new marketing.
Don't talk. Don't make noise. Listen.
Make it easy on yourself.
- Create value for your customers.
The old marketing foundation is gone. Promotion. Demand generation. Educating the market on needs they don’t know they have yet. Price differentiation or bashing the competition. None of this works anymore. People are actively filtering out the noise. They will not spend their hard-earned dollars with companies that take away their most valuable possession, their time. Yet they'll give money in a heartbeat to those who listen to them, who are interested in what they need and who genuinely want to create value for them.
- Treat your customers like your fans.
Imagine for a second that your startup is a football team. Your customers are your fans. They are the 12th man. You need to treat them right. Celebrate them. Give them a voice. Give them a forum. Let them be heard. Make it easy for them to rate your app, leave a comment or a testimonial behind. Talk to them. Give them a platform to share their passion for your product or service. Let them know you care. Raise the flag to honor them.
- Solve your customers' every problem.
Jump up when customers ask you for something. Do more than they expect. Blow them away. Have them repeat their stories over and over to everyone who would listen until they become urban myths. Remember the myth about a customer who walked into Nordstrom with a set of snow tires and asked for his money back? Nordstrom doesn't sell tires. How about Zappos? One of the urban legends insists that when customers called and asked for pizza, customer service employees ordered pizza for them.
- Become your customer's therapist.
Listen to everything your customer has to say. Don't interrupt. Don't judge. Just be there. Let them ramble and babble. How else can they believe you really care? Don't expect fast results. It will take many times over to hear your customers out before they will spend their cash with you. And even then, they might not, but if you have helped them feel better, they will bring other customers to you. They will convert people for you, even if they themselves don't have money to spend. They will give you huge value in return. Their time.
- Share yourself with your customers.
Often, before you can get someone to open up to you, you have to open up to them first. As a business, you have no other choice. Take off your corporate mask. Be transparent. Share what it's like to do the work you do, to produce the product you're producing. Show your customers your process and invite them in. Have them vote on new features or software add-ons or apps. Make them feel like they're part of the team.
Your to-do list:
- Have a place on your website and/or on your mobile app where your customers can rate your product, write testimonials, give you feedback, or recommend it to others. Use tools like disqus.com to let your customers and fans participate in what you do. or look at how this small business is using a virtual phone system called MightyCall to invite his customers to leave testimonials that they publish on their website.
- Develop a training guide for your customer service employees that details how to handle various customer feedback. Make sure it goes hand in hand with your branding. Empower your team to do what’s right for whoever shares valuable feedback with you. Google books has many great books like this one from Renee Evenson.
- Set a period of time when you will get back to your customers, let them know about it, and deliver on it. Don't be late. Beat expectations and be early.
- Celebrate improvements you make based on customer feedback. Those are the improvements that count the most. Thank customers for feedback. For example, send them handwritten postcards. It's rare and will blow them away. Here are some tips to create postcards that stand out: