To maximize your business success in 2021, you need to look at how you connect with your prospects and customers. Think of them as family, treat them as the best possible version of a family. It’s about building relationships first.
I recently had an experience on a social media channel that you might have had yourself.
Pitch forward marketing
Someone reached out to me to connect. It was a woman whose interests were in my niche. Her message said, “I think I have something you might be interested in.” How could she know that? She didn’t know me.
Being someone who is generally friendly and open to networking, I accepted her invitation. My acceptance triggered another message from her that was a pure pitch. And it was the type of offer that I always steer clear of. A business opportunity that doesn’t resonate with me.
In her response, she asked, “are you familiar with XYZ? They are the company I work with”
I responded, “Yes, I’m familiar with them. I’ve had numerous people try to get me to participate in this. Not interested. Thank you.”
She didn’t try to get to know me nor build a relationship. If she had, she might have picked up this isn’t my direction. She took afront at my lack of interest. She lost the opportunity for a relationship. While it isn’t something I would do, she will never learn if I know someone who might be interested.
I’ve practiced relationship selling for years
I’ve always practiced treating people with respect and TLC. This is essential to earn their trust and long term business. I’ve practiced this for over 25 years.
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual summit where some of the greatest minds in marketing shared their best thoughts for 2021. Marketing giants you might recognize. Bob Bly, Brian Kurtz, Kevin Thompson, Eric Partaker, and more.
Each had their own version of the “One Thing” to keep in mind for 2021. Yet, they were unanimous in their conviction on the importance of relationships as we move forward.
Relationship versus transactional selling
We shouldn’t ignore…relationships are opposite of transactions.
Transactions are all about the short term sale. Relationship selling is about connecting, engaging, and focusing on helping the buyer find what they want and need. The differences are huge.
Think traditional used car salesmen, versus an automotive consultant. Used car salesman were pushy. The don’t listen, they sell. Get the deal no matter what. It got them a terrible reputation.
Our automotive consultant doesn’t show the prospect anything until they have listened to the customer. They actively listen and then help the prospect find what they are looking for.
If we have a great buying experience, we are far more apt to return to that business the next time we have a need. We look forward to hearing from them because they “took care of us.” they didn’t try to rip us off and sell us what we didn’t want or need. Customer-focused.
3 Techniques for relationship marketing
Once you have embraced prospects as an online family, you’ll engage with them differently. They aren’t just names or emails, they are people you want to help. For the best success, you need to be very clear on your purpose and your goals. From there you need to give, be open and sincere, and see every touchpoint as a relationship event.
Focus on how you can help/serve others. Give abundantly. Information, inspiration, and value. People respond when we give our best. Focus on connecting with people who want what you are offering and give them your best.
Peloton has this down perfectly. Peleton offers high-end fitness gear. Their focus? Athletes committed to fitness. They know exactly what their customer wants. Peleton makes sure they provide it. They focus on reaching their target market. Targeted quality versus quantity in marketing responses. They only want the very committed in their inner circle.
This is an expensive brand with a high entry bar. This means members are more committed. The more we have to pay to access what we want, the more committed and engaged we become. The more we will connect and use the “value” the business has provided.
Their customers are more successful in reaching their goals and more apt to stay with them long term. They have a much higher lifetime customer value.
Be real, open, and sincere to build relationships
If you aren’t real, open, and sincere with your audience, they will know it. In today’s world, people look for businesses that are supportive and transparent. They don’t try to hide things by withholding or dodging issues.
Customer service quality is paramount in the mind of today’s customers. Let them know how to contact you and when they can expect a response.
2021 will have continued unique challenges. We have to be nimble and quickly adjust to rapidly evolving situations. Being open and honest with your audience will keep them with you as you have to make changes.
As a consumer, I don’t mind that your business had to change my packaging due to shortages. Please, just let me know. If the regional weather or other issues are impacting shipping and delivery, let your customers know. Customers like to be in the loop.
Social and environmental positions are also something that most customers respond to. They want to know how you’re helping others and helping the planet. If you haven’t added them, share them via social channels and on your website.
See touchpoints as relationship events
Every time you reach out or connect with your audience, it’s important to think of it as a relationship event. Don’t think list building, think relationship building. Don’t think transactions, think connectivity and engagement.
Relationships encourage a two-way conversation. Invite them to respond and interact with you.
Be aware of what competitors are putting out there. Look for a way to present your message a little differently to increase engagement. Keep in mind that members are much more engaged than a general audience. The easier the access, the lower the level of active engagement.
Businesses that make relationships their focus have the most loyal clients and fan base to help share their message. Their ROI and lifetime customer value will be higher than any transactional approach can achieve.
When I work with clients
I start with a review of what they publish on their website and social channels. I look for the level of relationship building. Then help them see opportunities to increase value to customers. This always converts to an enhanced lifetime customer value.
Readable copy is a big key to sales! People today don’t want to wade through information that reads like a dull textbook. Most of us skim-read, instead of word for word. We are such multitaskers and so many choices that we aren’t patient with reading.
Recently, I received an email promoting a new product from a spa supplier. I knew the product was a performer, but the description was hard to read. So, I copy/pasted it into an analyzer. The readability was at the post-college level.
This prompted me to go online and look at descriptions of the same type of product marketed by department store brands. Their descriptions were much easier to read and focused on what their customers wanted to know. What it would do for them.
Readability sells and lack of it loses sales.
Readability refers to how easy a sentence is to read and understand. There are several formulas, that’s another article. The important thing to remember is to keep it simple. The harder it is to read, the quicker your reader may hit the delete key or leave your website.
Originally, it was used to evaluate training materials. Today it is used by smart marketers.
In today’s world, we are bombarded by electronic marketing. Junk mail, emails, newsletters. We go online; lots more marketing. Sensory overload. We are in a hurry. We want what we are looking for quick and easy. Your potential customers want the same thing.
Every written piece put out there needs to be easy to read. Website pages, emails, newsletters all need to be visitor friendly and quick to read.
Get their attention fast…
In 2014, Hubspot Marketing reported that you have less than 15 seconds to engage your reader. A surprising 55% of them will click off your page in that period.
If the reader is on a page that doesn’t answer their question or meet a need – they are going to be gone. They are in the wrong place.
However, if they are looking for what you have, we need to help them stick around and find it. We need to make sure our message is clear, simple, and easy to skim read.
Think about opening your email box first thing in the morning. There are probably at least 50 new emails waiting. Most of us, scan for the obvious ones to delete. Check, check, check, delete – done. Then you start with the rest.
3 Tips for more readability
You don’t actually read most emails completely. You quickly skim them to see if you’re interested. If they are hard to read, it bogs you down. The more you have to “work” to read information, the more apt you are to think, just stuff it, and hit delete.
Ever been caught in a loop and realize you’ve been rereading the same sentence over and over? Simple words, short sentences, and white space make a huge difference. The combination of words plus sentences is the basis for how easy something is to read.
Once you have your first draft complete, read through checking word choices. The more syllables a word has, the harder it is to read. It mentally takes more energy.
“Harder” is easier to read than “more difficult” or “more challenging”. It has fewer syllables and doesn’t require a support word.
Choosing a shorter word won’t make it sound like you have a limited vocabulary or it was written by a grade-schooler. It’s only about that mental energy use.
Sometimes you can’t avoid complex words. Technical materials or say medical topics need their specific words.
The longer and more complicated a sentence, the harder it is to read. Look for ways to break them into shorter sentences.
A good tell is to read the segment out loud. If you have trouble speaking it, people will have trouble reading it. Run out of breath in the middle of a sentence…shorten it.
There are lots of readability analyzers out there. This is good because most document creators don’t include it.
Grammarly uses a straight Flesch score system that the lower the number the harder it is to read. You’ll need a paid version to get the function.
Hemingway uses the Flesch-Kincade US grade scoring system so the higher the number the harder it is to read. A 14 would be post-graduate. Seven would be 12-13-year-old students. Most of the time, you want to have your text at nine or lower.
The unique part of Hemmingway is when you paste your text into the system, it renders it color-coded.
Yellow text is hard to read. Red text is very hard to read. Green is passive voice and purple is words that may have a simpler option. It’s very quick to see where the problem is and hone in on it.
As you shorten sentences, your red or yellow disappears and your grade score drops. It can also be used as a document creator with marking turned off in the write mode.
I find using one of the many analyzers speeds up the editing process and gets the job done.
If you have a solid page of text it is hard to focus on let alone read. Look for ways to break up long paragraphs. It’s like letting the reader take a breath.
Another good way to evaluate your white space is to look at your document in mobile format. If your document creator doesn’t let you see desktop, laptop, mobile views, a WordPress Post will.
If your reader has to scroll, and scroll, and scroll to get to the end of a paragraph…or a sentence, it’s too long.
Even product descriptions are not immune. Bulleting key benefits are good. However, lumping all of the description into one paragraph takes more mental energy to read. Give the reader a break. Break it into shorter paragraphs to make it more readable.
Word choices, shorter sentences, and white space make reading your offer a breeze and increase the ease of buying.
When I work with clients
Part of my get-acquainted process is to look at the existing content and email funnels. Is it recent, relevant, and readable? Copy plays a big supporting role in buying decisions. If I see readability issues, I show them how much more effective it could be.
Ogilvy’s Social.Lab recently published a report on “conversational commerce”. In 2020 more people than ever are choosing online. They buy groceries, shop, and connect with friends.
It uses chatbots or humans. It also uses language interfaces like Whatsapp and like Alexa to communicate with customers. Businesses are using it to set themselves apart from their competitors and enhance customer service.
The key takeaway? Be useful, be relevant, be trustworthy in every customer interaction.
Ogilvy’s Social.Lab recently published a report on “conversational commerce”. In 2020 more people than ever are choosing online. They buy groceries, shop, and connect with friends.
It uses chatbots or humans. It also uses interfaces like Whatsapp and like Alexa to communicate with customers. Businesses use it to set themselves apart from their competitors. And to enhance customer service.
The key takeaway? Be useful, be relevant, be trustworthy in every customer interaction.
In today’s world, it is important for your brand’s success to engage customers with empathy marketing. You need to employ empathy and communicate your understanding and caring about your customers, your staff, and your planet.
It’s what today’s buyers want and are increasingly coming to expect from those they do business with. Yes, back to the pillars of wellness – personal, social, and global.
Initially driven by millennials, it’s being embraced cross-generational. Less transactional, more emotional connections. It puts what the customer values over business sales.
Route.com said it well… “What empathetic marketing should always boil down to is that tried-and-true Golden Rule. Treat others how you want to be treated.”
Business Empathy in 2020
I’ve seen some great examples of this in action this year from a broad range of businesses.
In May, Twitter announced all employees would be allowed to work at home permanently if that was their preference.
They had been moving toward more remote work for some time and testing it. Now, if staff need or want to go in, they can… pandemic restrictions allowing. If they prefer to work remotely, there is no discrimination, no pay cuts, no commute.
The benefits? Staff morale boosted, and equal or better productivity. A demonstration of taking care of people.
Verizon and Fios gave customers free data so they could stay in touch with those they couldn’t physically connect with. They also provided 60 days of free resources to help parents and students with at-home learning. Demonstrating customers and staff before sales.
Statewide businesses jumped in
In Oregon, there are hundreds of boutique businesses in the hemp, beer, and distillation niches. They diverted resources to make hand-sanitizers. It kept staff working, even if the products were donated to those who needed them the most.
Larger companies, like Intel, provided medical workers with PPE and joined with others to accelerate research for treatment and cures.
Then on top of the coronavirus, Oregon was hit with the worst wildfires in the state history. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. Some rural cities were totally wiped out. It will take years to deal with the aftermath.
Even small businesses stepped up to help out.
One very small mom and pop Chinese restaurant here in Eugene put a post on Facebook on September 10th.
“Donating food to fire relief camps for the rest of the week. We will be closed. Thanks for your patience.
“Thanks for your support,
They denied themselves income to give their resources to others. Other restaurants and caterers joined them to make sure the firefighters and relief camps had food and water.
Local people raided their personal stores of food, clothing, pet needs, and every other medical and household item you can imagine to donate them to relief centers.
It’s been a year of helping others as I’ve never seen before.
As a customer and marketer…I know it’s about the buyer’s problems
While everything has shifted online, not all businesses have adapted. I’ve seen businesses struggle because they weren’t mentally or technologically prepared. As a marketer, the solutions are clear. To thrive, businesses need a digital presence. They also need empathy marketing.
The changes we have experienced aren’t going to go away anytime soon. People aren’t going to give up the convenience of online shopping. However, they also want more.
You need more than demographics, you need psychographics. I find they help me dig deeper and find the aspects of emotions and empathy best suited to prospects.
Brands need to embrace empathy marketing
It’s not enough to have an e-commerce site. With all the shysters and scammers out there, buyers are becoming more discriminating.
They are looking for things to improve their life. They want transparency to know your brand can be trusted. And they want to know how you are helping other people and the planet.
Embrace all techniques of empathy for engaged and loyal customers.
Three steps for empathy marketing
There are three key techniques you can use for empathy marketing. Start by “walking in their shoes.” Discover their emotions: problems, pains, views, beliefs, values. Then craft your communications with transparency and openness.
It’s critical to do more than try to think like your target customer. You need to be them, assume their perspective without judgment. Understand their emotions and motivations. What makes them buy? Also, discover the things that make them resist.
How are they feeling now and how do they want to feel? What do they want to be different and how can you make their life better? Do they recognize their problem or that a solution exists?
These things together will guide you in where you need to start their journey and the steps you need to include.
By knowing their views and beliefs you can smooth out your buying pathway so they don’t get derailed.
You want to connect with them on shared social and planet-friendly values.
Take salsa. There are lots of choices out there and we all have taste preferences. My go-to brand donates all the profits to charities. That made my buying decision easy.
This where we need psychographics. We also have to recognize how men and women buy differently. Men are more transactional by nature. Women are more emotion-driven in their buying decisions.
Women influence 85% of all consumer buying decisions. That makes them an obvious choice to nurture. It’s important to value them and tap into the emotions – and empathy that will make them loyal customers.
Deadlines like a limited time offer can trigger a buy. Grocery stores use this all the time with their in-store announcement of a special price for the next 10 minutes. Limited quantities are equally powerful. We don’t want to miss out and we love to feel we got bonus value.
Benevolence or altruism are also female buying stimuli. They may feel they are better off and want to help others. Or it may be part of their social values. Humanity and giving back.
Belonging is important to both men and women. We like being part of something, a tribe, a team of like-minded people.
There is also “empathy-response.” When people get positive feedback from giving or doing something it creates an empathy response.
In buying the perfect gift, women share the recipient’s joy emotionally. When her daughter squeals for joy over her birthday gift, she gets a surge of endorphins, the feel-good hormone. She gets the same feel-good hormone for problem-solving.
Men get the empathy response when they do something successfully, or the female in his life is pleased with him, or when their team quarterback scores a touchdown.
Once you have this information you can use it to craft your messages with transparency and openness to build trust in your relationship and brand. You want to make them feel heard and acknowledged.
Once women make the emotional decision, they need you to provide logical information to back it up. This validates their decision. Science, facts, and social proof. Sharing other’s success stories from problem to solution and how they have improved their life is powerful.
Use caution with success stories so they don’t come across in a pushy or sales-focused way. They need to stand on their own merits as validation of problem and solution. What their life was like before and what it is now. Share what they had tried that didn’t work, their failures. How they found your solution and their experiences on the journey to a better quality of life.
When I work with clients…
I start by learning what they are currently doing and what isn’t working. Then, taking another look at their target, I dive deeper to find a different way to connect and engage with emotions and empathy marketing. Need help? Reach out to me. firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been dealing with the pandemic for seven months. New research numbers are starting to emerge. Key is the shift in the customer mindset. This impacts our society, our businesses, and our marketing.
One thing for sure…we aren’t past this. We’re intra-pandemic.
All the marketing guides prior to the pandemic are out the window…useless.
GlobalWebIndex specializes in consumer data for marketers. Recently they reported on the changes to the consumer mindset that all marketers need to be aware of.
Their report is based on a global study, interviewing 688,000 internet users aged 16-64. They share five key takeaways.
Personal data concerns are down
During the lockdown, or just staying home to reduce risks, people moved to online. Online ordering groceries, home supplies, virtual or phone shopping assistants. However, when you shop online…you pay online.
What changed is people are less concerned about online shopping risks. They are less concerned with personal privacy loss. And less concerned about businesses using their personal data to market to them.
It had to happen. You can’t get help if you don’t share anything. That would be like going to a doctor because you don’t feel well, but refusing to share your symptoms.
This is not to say they have abandoned their concerns…just suspended them. They are shopping online, however paying attention to how companies use their information.
In the new customer mindset, relevancy has changed
Things like exclusivity, status, and reputation have dropped in relevance as much as 25%.
Consumers are less likely to want to stand out. Instead, they are looking for solidarity, feeling a part of the group.
Their focus has shifted to values, purpose, and how brands contribute to the common good.
For those who sell exclusivity, the challenge will be to showcase practicality.
Life has slowed down
Staying home, being unemployed, or working from home have a different life pattern…and a different sleep pattern. People are sleeping in longer.
For our normally fast-paced lifestyle, this is profound. It’s the first time since the Industrial Revolution that we have been “unchained” from an alarm clock.
We are discovering more free time and a slower life pace.
People are streaming more and gaming. They are also balancing this with offline activities.
I live in a neighborhood conducive to walkers and from my office, I see my neighbors pass by. Over the past seven months, the number of regular walkers has tripled..
It’s not just seniors out for a daily walk. It’s moms and/or dads with their kids…bicycles, scooters, tricycles, wagons, and strollers. Don’t forget the dog.
People have adopted more pets. Another healing wellness boost and incentive to get out and exercise.
Businesses should look for opportunities to enhance/support a more relaxed lifestyle.
We also need to be aware of what they call “media fatigue.” Discover ways to help them look away from their screen.
Both McDonald’s and Heinz released branded jigsaw puzzles to capitalize on the new trend. They are using the need for offline entertainment as a marketing opportunity. They have released dozens of versions across 17 countries.
Financially, the customer mindset is more cautious
People across the globe are beginning to understand the impact the pandemic will have on their personal income long-term.
GlobalWebIndex shares “the number of consumers expecting a big/dramatic impact on their personal finances from COVID-19 has increased by 43% since our first wave of research.”
Discretionary spending will take the hardest hit. The report shares that consumers see themselves as less affluent. They are less willing to put wealth on display.
Just because they see a brand advertised consumers aren’t dashing out to buy it. Expect them to take more time to consider a non-essential item as we move forward.
Vendors of non-essentials will be looking for ways to market them as a necessary item rather than an extra.
More local focus
International travel has come to a near halt. My husband’s family lives in the UK. We have no idea when we may be able to visit them again.
I’ve heard similar thoughts from other Ex-pats. You are where you are.
Destination Analytics released statistics covering through October 16-18. The US is split on their thoughts about travel.
The number of COVID-19 cases is soaring, those ready to travel is dropping. 55.5% of the people say they are ready to travel. This is down from a 2020 high of 57.8% just a week before.
Locally, our tourism bureau shifted its marketing focus from national to regional. They promote visit local and local staycations.
Result: higher occupancy rates than anticipated. More people using local outdoor spaces.
People are concerned about where they live
With the pandemic cases on the rise, people are more concerned with their local environment.
They’re concerned about global issues. However, they are more concerned with how their country, their county, their town are handling things.
As we move forward expect to see more local and regional focus.
When international travel becomes an option, security and health issues may determine a destination over cultural attractions.
New customer mindset takeaway
As marketers, we can expect more shifts and changes. I work with clients to create the best possible user experience to keep them loyal, buying… and businesses making money..
Creating valuable content is a great way to enhance your readership and the way search engines rank you. However if you’re doing it all yourself, it can be overwhelming to get volume out there. Curated content allows you to get more volume out there and make search engines happy.
In my copywriting marketing, I meet many business owners who have no choice but to do it all themselves. They don’t have a budget to hire writers…especially good writers.
They are smart enough to know poor content is almost worse than no content.
However, I’ve found in client conversations, there’s a huge concern around how search engines respond to something that has previously been published.
Let’s be real here…in any given niche, there are a lot of topics, but for topics of value to the reader, you’ll find numerous articles out there. That isn’t a problem for search engines. They like popular topics.
What makes this work is every writer has their own take on a topic. They present the topic in a way to share the most value and relevancy to their readers. When they do this they have an SEO win.
The secret behind successful curation?
You aren’t just sharing something previously published. You add your take on what makes the information valuable…or not. When you add your opinions or views, your value level escalates.
This is less you-focused. You are part of a conversation. At the same time, you are positioned as a subject matter expert. Your value enhances with your readers.
Curation adds a bit of variety and an outside voice which keeps readers coming back to see what you say next.
3 Keys to effective curated content
It’s important to keep in mind your role as a curator. In a museum, curators are responsible for the collection and maintenance of an art collection.
As a brand marketer, you are responsible for finding relevant topics for your readers and sharing your unique why. If it is new or little known information…so much the better.
What’s new or different?
It might be a “we used to believe this but now we know,” scenario.
New research may have opened doors, given unknown insights, or found a more effective technique.
See misinformation? Can you dispel it and help your readers out or save them a mistake?
Look for lesser-known resources that your readers might not be aware of or take the time to dig for. Depending on your niche, these might come from scientific studies, professional journals, or forums.
Look for high quality in what you chose as you are attaching your name to it.
Build relationships with other authors
If I curate, I always message the originator prior to writing the piece to let them know I’d like to share their article with my readers. Most people are happy to have this shared.
It’s also an opportunity to develop a relationship and create possibilities for them sharing your information…a two-way street. Or for you to put out a guest-post.
When there are graphics, check to see if they can be shared and credited. If not, find a good substitution. Unsplash and Canva are two of my favorite resources.
Share the review in more than one way
The two most popular forms of curation are short posts and full articles.
Short posts are generally tied into a graphic and shared on social media channels. To meet the channel standards, they are generally less than 200 words. That means paring down the article into its essence, including your thoughts on it.
Articles give you more room to explain the curated topic – not copy/paste it. It also gives you space to explain your slant on the article and how it can help your readers. Many of these are under 1000 words.
You could also share your thoughts in a video or podcast if you include a transcript where they can access the article.
Whichever form you use, it is critical to include a link to the full article. This becomes an outside backlink on your website…and we know search engines love those.
If I have another created article or blog that ties into the topic, I also include a link to “you might also enjoy this article.” Another backlink. Now I have both internal and external backlinks that are helpful to the reader…and SEO.
Be sure to keep the conversation going. Invite readers to add their questions or thoughts. I’ve noticed curated articles often get more comments and feedback than any other type of publication.
How I use curated material
I’m often asked how much curation is enough or too much. Argyle Social, Hootesuite, and Quuu came up with a range of about 25-50% of your content should be created.
In a total marketing mix, Hootsuite and Quuu suggested ⅓ self-created, ⅓ curated, and ⅓ social conversations and engagement.
Track topics that might be of interest to your readers. Flag or create a file for them. With this resource, you can generate a curated article in a fraction of the time it takes to research and write one.
Need help making a plan or turning goals into a reality? Message me. email@example.com.