How many times do I have to say it? It is all about them, not you. They don’t care about you. Still, I am constantly confronted by businesses that continue to focus on themselves and not their customers.
Today the tide has well and truly turned. You can see everywhere how the customer is controlling the conversation. Harley Davidson’s president got it when he said, “the more you engage with customers, the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing”. And you know what? If you don’t engage they will by-pass you. It is so easy for them to ignore. They can turn off the tv, delete the email and fast forward the podcast. It is all about them. They choose. They determine your brand value, they listen to their friends on twitter talking about a bad experience and they research new products by visiting user forums.
So where does this leave the small business? It is simple and here are my 5 top tips of ways to join your customers’ conversations.
1. LISTEN – start connecting by listening. This means act like a customer. Ring your own phone number. Stand in your own queue. Understand them. Invite them to participate in improving your product or service. Educate them and inspire them, but mostly join their conversation. Observe conversations in your sphere. Listen to the experts in your business on blogs, tweets and other social media forums.
2. LOOK – at your communications, your website for example. Does it talk about the customer and their problems and how you solve them or does it talk about YOU? Remember no one cares about you, nor do they care about everybody, they care about themselves. So don’t be all things to everyone. Just communicate to the select target market and explain how you can help them.
3. ACT – If you get some feedback, good or bad, act on it. Show you care. A blog is a good way to join the conversation with your customers but it is no good if you don’t act on the information. You have to show that you are invested and you care.
4. CREATE – opportunities for your customers and employees to communicate and build an extended online community. They are going to have the conversation with or without you so you may as well be listening and providing input. Marketing is now a dialogue and two-way conversation that requires listening and if you are good at it, you will empower your customers to create their own ideal products and services, review yours and provide feedback and nurture your business. They will tell you how they want their information, and what they want. You just have to listen and be willing to share the process.
5. EVALUATE – evaluate your online community and strategy and make sure it suits your customer needs. As you can see from the conversation prism below, there are many ways to join or start a conversation and you can’t give your attention to all. Pick the best way and medium that suits your customers and make a start today.