Social media and internet presence is becoming one of the primary ways to reach consumers. It is also getting more and more personal. Information gets shared based on its interest level, how it may relate to a person and basically whether it's useful. If companies started courting their consumers, paid attention to their needs and really listened, the results may be shocking. So here are my dating tips for companies to consider using on their consumers (in no particular order).
Look Your Best
You have to be appealing and catch the eye. A well-organized ad and an easy-to-navigate website are just the starting points. This goes for store fronts too. Walmart & Target seem to be ones that pop into my mind automatically. Walmart is sometimes known for its less-than-outstanding clientele (www.peopleofwalmart.com). There is this underlying idea that Walmarts are only where "economically challenged" people shop. But at the end of the day, it's a store no different than the rest and if you ask most people, I'm pretty sure 99% would say they've been there before. I also know that I've been to many Walmarts and some of them are so dirty that I would never buy any food there and I want to leave immediately. Then I've been to nicer locations where you could eat off the floor and I think "they really get a bad rap..." Same can be said for Targets. On average, most of the Targets I've gone to have been nicer overall in terms of cleanliness, organization and helpfulness of staff than Walmart, but not always. I've gone into unkept stores thinking "really, this place has gone down hill." I'm going to physically go to places that are clean and inviting. When it comes to online shopping, I want something that's easy to navigate and follow (I'm an amazon.com lover). Cuz if you're tough to look at, it's going to make your business harder to sell.
Be A Good Listener
When it comes to online marketing and social media, the key mistake many companies tend to make is blasting their marketing campaigns out there like it's traditional media. Social media is social so you should be connecting and realize that it's a forum for discussion, not a magazine ad or a commercial. This case study from fastcompany talks about how Proctor & Gamble finally started listening. Investing time and effort shows that you're engaged with your customers' needs, that you care about them and this ultimately helps you, the company. The more you actually learn about what consumers want & need (not just assuming based on some statistics and shopping trends), the better chances you have of building a sustainable relationship with them. Something as simple as a store that will open other counters to make sure I'm not standing in line forever or even knows me when I come in because I shop there a lot are important. I once went to a store where the woman would greet me every time as if she'd never seen me before. I remembered her because she'd try to sell me some things. After about the 5th time I got annoyed -- you seriously DON'T remember me? Every time she'd ask "have you shopped with us before?" Yes, I have. Last week.
How Do You Treat Others?
Girls always know that you have to know how a guy treats his mama before you can really decide anything about his character. But not just his mother -- does he hold a door for other people than you? Does he make efforts to be courteous, polite and helpful? If it's only when you're around then it's not the best statement of his character. I've seen guys hold a door for their date and let it slam in the face of the person behind them. It's actually one of my pet peeves and a sign she should drop him like a ton of bricks. Chances are she may not know because she already walked through door. The same can be said for companies and their employees. The best places to shop are the places that have happy employees who are willing to help and aren't being oppressed. You're always going to get that cranky clerk or angry deli worker who's just had a bad day -- we all have those days. But the general morale of the company is a reflection of their values and how they will eventually treat their customers. If you're a company that doesn't realize this then you have a problem and you should work on that. Management is leadership and I've seen both sides of that coin. You can't expect everyone to get along and perform choreographed dance numbers at noon lunch breaks, but employees should feel empowered, be praised for good work and be lead by people who care about them. It's obvious when employees feel "stuck"at their job. They don't worry about their customers because they're gonna have to be there anyway and I mean, if no one cares about them, why should they care about anyone else?
This also includes community involvement. It's important to have presence. Teaming up with a charity, sponsoring a benefit, doing something that reflects things your staff is interested in -- caring about your community -- is all an important part of being a successful company.
This article talks about how Virgin Airlines made an expectant couple very happy.
Be Sexy, Not Slutty
Everyone knows you don't give it all away right away. While this is true for dating, this can also be true for companies, particularly in the area of social media advertising. Be aware of not only what you're saying but how you're saying it. Show your potential clients that you're interested in them and that you yourself are interesting. Combine interacting and observing. Don't constantly throw yourself at them with endless ads. Nothing is more irritating to me than pop-up ads I accidently click on, especially when I'm focused on looking at or reading one particular thing. If I want to click on your banner or learn more about your product I will. But when you are constantly in my face and clearly desperate for my attention, well now you've gone too far and I'm no longer interested.
Show That You Care
Nothing shocks a consumer more than replying to something from a yelp review or reaching out to someone who thought you weren't listening. Whether it's good or bad, get involved with what your clients are doing. I recently saw an article about "How to date a rich man." I was anticipating some very low, pathetic schemes involving low tops and other shameless antics. To my surprise, rule number one was "Shop where they shop." Wander around Barneys, attend charity events... to meet the kind of person you want to be with go to where they are. Obvious but accurate. So if your company wants to attract certain kind of consumers, go to where they go, go to where your competitors go and make the effort to find out what they are saying. Likewise, make it obvious that you do care. Men-to-women advice columns often say "we men care about you ladies, but we're not always good at showing it." If you care about your customers make it obvious to them in good customer service, rewards, outreach and involvement. Customer loyalty is invaluable. Here are great examples of customer service!
So take these tips and work towards building a better relationship between your company and your customers and watch the sparks fly!
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