FOCUS: What About Customer Experience and Relationships?

Visitors Audience Customers Community

On the lookout for…?

“Relationships?! How do you do that when your business is all about selling boxes of widgets? Folks come to my site, order them and I ship them out…”

This is a common question. You have always viewed your company as one that makes something that others buy (hopefully more than once…), and then you make sure they get it. Pretty much the definition of “transactional”, and, especially if you operate an e-commerce site, you only know them by a name, address and order number. It doesn’t look like the opportunities to establish and grow a relationship, as you’re thinking of it, are that ripe.

…or are they?…

I’ve written before about a descriptive construct I call the VACC. It stands for Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community. There are different ways of looking at the people who interact with your business: The Customer Journey, the Sales Funnel, and so on. Viewing these people through the VACC lens focuses on the stage of the relationship they have with you business, and how you communicate and interact with them. Each stage is valuable and there is no hard line dividing them. Nonetheless, knowing, in greater depth, what each set of these people are looking for, how they act and react to you and your business, what their expectations are, and how you can communicate with them is vital to your business growth. Not knowing is the same as tossing your product out on to a virtual (or real…) sidewalk and hoping the right folks come by.

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Obsessed With Success for 2016? It’s Almost Here!

Is there an actual name for the time between Christmas and New Years? If there isn’t, there should be…..it always feels just plain weird to me.

That said, it’s that time when I take a look back, past the shredded wrapping paper, immense amount of food and goodies, emergency trips and 2016 business planning to the Top Five Posts for December. There’s always a lot to be learned and reminded of, and these articles do the trick!

Lots O' Social Media

Lots O’ Social Media

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Why is Your Audience So Scary?

English: Audience in the main hall of the Mobi...

English: Audience in the main hall of the MobileHCI 2008 conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How uncomfortable are you with your audience?

I have spent a large portion of my life in front of audiences as a musician, as an educator, as a speaker, and, going way back, as an actor (think “the class play in junior high school“…), so I have worked with and observed audiences in a lot of different ways and scenarios. If you read my blog regularly you might think that my concept of an audience versus some other social construct is a little lower than, say, a community.

Not really…

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Do You Know The Truth About Connection and Appearance?

Connect Four

Connect Four (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I belong to a few business and networking groups, as well as a service organization. Only at one of them do I have the luxury of spending time with the members (about 25) on a weekly basis and the ongoing encouragement to get together with a couple of them every week to really get to know them, their businesses and their lives. I am able to connect and as a result I feel almost as invested in their work as they are (I’m still working on birthdays and favorite foods, but, hey, we’ll get there!). I am fans of them and their work and actively seek out ways to promote and assist each one, if I can.

Content Shock and Cutting Through The Noise

As if things aren’t hard enough for entrepreneurs and small business folks, the challenges of digital presence and discoverability just keep mutating. I just started reading Mark Schaefer’s new book, “The Content Code” in which he describes this evolution of digital marketing so far.

He outlines three phases that, to date, bring us here. The first was a focus on Presence. You may remember this…in the mid-1990s when AOL, Prodigy and others staked their claims on what was then the Internet? As a business, if you could just get out there and establish a web site, you won. You were So Far Ahead of the curve…
Then, however, you needed to be found. The early search engines like Alta Vista, Yahoo and eventually Google enabled this. So by the later 1990s the emphasis turned to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Discovery was the focus for the second digital revolution. Get found and you won.

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TIPS: 3 Views of Content

The online world is utterly obsessed with content. This takes a number of forms, from articles and blogs to photos, graphics of any kind, videos, podcasts, and any re-mix thereof. It is an attention economy and if you can get your customers and visitors to focus on JUST YOU for a bit, you have achieved something pretty impressive.

However, this is only getting harder to do well. If you have the goal of creating or highlighting something of real value and relevance to your audience (as opposed to distraction or “click-bait”…) you have to be thoughtful, intentional and resourceful while balancing the other needs of your business and life. While the standing approach can still be called “Fail Fast” or “Do It Wrong Quickly“, you still need to cultivate an acute awareness of the real value of what you publish to your audience. There are numerous articles, sites, books and courses about content marketing available. Still, navigating it all as a solopreneur or small business owner can seem like panning for gold, and you just don’t feel like you’ve got the time or resources. You’ve got a business to create and run.

I’ll keep this to the point to save you time: here are three views of content that can help you use the resources you have more effectively. Frame your efforts with these in mind and you will find you come closer to “hitting the mark.”

  • Make it interesting – There’s the stuff you’re interested in and there’s the stuff your audience is interested in. Drive laser focus on the latter, include the former and do your best to leave ‘overt selling’ out of it. Don’t be a pimp. Remember, only roughly 1 out of every 20 pieces published should be considered selling.
  • Make it relevant and usefulJay Baer says to publish stuff your audience would be willing to pay for. The greater the utility and relevance of what you publish, the more valuable you are to your audience, which will bring them back to you frequently….and when you DO sell, they will listen.
  • Be truly “value add – Don’t just shove articles and links onto your stream and let your audience figure it out. Comment….give them a clue or a question or a contrarian point of view. Provide a reason to care and click through.

Do you have any views of content you feel are foundational? Share in the comments and make your case.