How do you crawl into the heads of your customers?
The answer to that question is what’s really at the heart of any successful business. There is an entire industry built around researching customers, numerous methodologies to discern what they see as a good, bad or “Meh…” experience or product, and how to improve that experience (or ‘manage‘ it, in the terminology of the industry). I marvel at the ambition and sheer chutzpah of companies and consultants who aim at controlling people’s behavior via marketing, sales and customer support. Big data, social psychometrics, networking behavior, deep psychological studies and historical patterns can give some great insights, but we’re talking about people….and people are notoriously fickle. In these times when a customer experience or journey takes them online and off-line, as well as through numerous stages of relationships with companies, trying to maintain the thread of great experience, moving to deeper engagement and eventual sales and referrals….well, needless to say, it takes a lot of work.
This work gets done by vendors or inside experts, if you have a big enough budget. Most entrepreneurs and small-to-medium business owners I speak with have a harder time with it. It’s not that they’re ignoring the customer experience, as such, but they have so much else going on keeping the business going and meeting revenue targets to keep the lights on and food on the table….well, they’re happy if they get the sale!
One term for this effort is personalized marketing. A number of articles have been published over the last few years about this development and how it is critical to moving the needle in your business….especially since your customers are getting more annoyed with “broad brush” marketing and are more likely to respond to messages that resonate with them and they find interesting and entertaining (no surprise there…who wouldn’t like to be spoken TO rather than spoken AT?). As I have mentioned before, Bryan Kramer has termed this “H2H” (Human to Human) marketing. The focus is on communication and dialog and not so much on messaging as it is generally understood.
So what does this mean for you?
Depending on your business, resources and customers, you may be able to hone your marketing towards conversations, especially as you take advantage of some of the better analytics and customer tracking tools available. Certainly engaging in a more human way online will allow you to start understanding your visitors, audience, customers and community better.
Ignore them at your peril.
As you are well aware, you’re not the only game in town.
Here are a few resources to jump-start your thinking: