People-based marketing – what is that? And isn’t that what all marketing should be? Isn’t the entire marketing industry already concentrated on people – their needs, wants and individual behavior characteristics? Well, you’d be surprised! Stick with us to find out!
How do you define marketing?
Do you think of it in terms of what big brands are offering you to buy every time you come across an ad on your phone, TV or on the big screen? If so, is it an effective approach? Do you allow it to be the only factor in shaping the way you feel about a particular brand or product? Or is there something more to effective modern marketing?
“Marketing is the process of interesting potential customers and clients in your products and/or services”, or so states The Balance.
However, in today’s oversaturated market where everything is for sale and at the tip a consumer’s fingers, is there such a way of singling out the best product or service? What is more, how is Jack from Hamilton, Ontario to know where to go in order to get the best possible car repair service? Is he to blindly trust commercials and ads he sees on his devices or all over town? Or should he roll the dice with the first vehicle repair shop he can find when his car breaks down?
Let’s go back to the definition of marketing for a second. In the opinion of The Balance, it can be further expanded:
“Marketing is the process of letting consumers know why they should choose your product or service over those of your competitors. If you’re not doing that, you’re not marketing – it’s really that simple. The key is to find the right method and to define the right message to educate and influence your consumers.
Companies make the mistake of thinking that marketing is just one thing, but it’s actually much broader than that. It’s everything the consumer encounters when he does business with you. This includes advertising, what he hears by word of mouth, and the customer service he receives. It includes the follow-up care that your business provides. All these efforts fall under the umbrella of marketing and creating a decision within the consumer as to whether to choose your company initially or for repeat business.”
It is getting increasingly hard to earn consumer’s trust, is it not?
As people are constantly bombarded with gimmicky marketing campaigns for an unlimited number of products and services, it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out in the crowd. Marketing a product or service is simply not enough anymore – it’s up to the company behind it to put its own reputation at stake and a seal of quality of sorts.
And that is exactly where customer service comes into play!
Great customer service is the way to show all the people who come into your shop that you care about them and their opinion. Moreover, a favorable opinion will make that customer not only come back, but also bring their friends, colleagues and whoever else is there.
Providing the best possible experience to Jack is as important as it is fixing his car at a reasonable price. Why? Because that may be the only thing that will make you or break you in his eyes.
Let’s put ourselves in Jack’s shoes.
He is stranded on the side of the road because his car has unexpectedly broken down on him. He is slightly panicky and concerned about his vehicle. So he finds your vehicle repair shop online and decides to go to you for help.
If Cindy, the receptionist at your shop welcomes him with a warm smile and a helping hand, he will immediately feel a little bit better, right? Getting right on fixing Jack’s car will certainly be a plus in his book seeing as nobody likes waiting, correct? And if he is visibly satisfied with not only the job done on his car but also the payment service and a “You’re always welcome back” goodbye, he will come back, surely?
That is great customer service and, by extension, great marketing, people!
As some of you here may be asking if this approach is applicable to digital marketing, we are here to say: Yes, absolutely! You just need a different channel of communication with your customers. Just as you don’t need a physical store anymore to sell clothes, you don’t have to talk face-to-face with your customers to point them in the right direction. Instead of a clerk coming down the aisle and help a grandma choose an ugly Christmas sweater, you can just have her talk to the customer support team on live chat. As you read in one of one of our previous posts, it should come as no surprise that immediate answers to customer inquiries lead to purchases, so make customers feel cherished and they will come back and be loyal. Don’t be afraid to communicate with them, as they can give you great feedback about the good, the bad and the ugly about the way you run your business.
Aside from live chat, you can also use company Social Media profiles to actively communicate with your customers, not just to engage them and promote content.
You can solve their real-time problems in a somewhat informal setting, thus telling them you are always there for them. What also helps create a better picture about your company and the way you treat customers is the fact that every comment they may leave about you and their experience with you is out there for the world to see.
Not only that, but every such review that doesn’t garner a reaction from you is reflected badly upon your reputation.
“The best way to counteract any consequences negative reviews might have on your business is to act on them. Show that you care. Respond to a bad review as soon as possible and with good arguments about not only the reasoning behind your company process but also the way you will improve it. That way you will show the person leaving the negative review that you are willing and prepared to do everything you can to truly better your product/service and their customer experience.” – Aleksandar Mitic, Account Manager at TheIuvo
So, think about it. What does it cost you to provide excellent customer service and create loyal customer base?
All you really need are great interpersonal skills of the employees who believe in the company and whatever it is you are selling.
It doesn’t take much to show Jack from Hamilton kindness and pay a bit of attention to his problem while he is explaining it. By showing him he is important to you, you are putting him first. The loyalty that is born from this kind of customer service cannot be bought with ads.
“It’s very logical: There is proven ROI in doing whatever you can to turn your customers into advocates for your brand or business. The way to create advocates is to offer superior customer service.”– Gary Vaynerchuk, “The Thank You Economy”
If you want us to show your customers you care about them, contact us today and let us take your business to the next level!
Or: Others Just Sell. You Should Sell By Educating Your Customers
Competition is the scariest word in the business dictionary.
God forbid it were the only one. There’s one more terrifying notion that keeps us up at night. It’s the fact that the ways of this world are rapidly changing.
But instead of trembling at the thought, it’s better to realize that both of these facts are actually healthy for your business. If it doesn’t drown, it will rise stronger than ever.
Following trends and constant education have been fueling business efforts from the beginning of time.
Today it’s a bit more complicated than that. Not only do you need to educate yourself. You need to educate your clients and customers as well. That’s what the most successful businesses do. That’s the exact reason why they became successful in the first place.
An experience everyone has had
A couple of days ago I went to buy a vacuum cleaner. It was one of those days when you need to just buy a goddamn cleaner as soon as possible because you need one. And you don’t want to waste all day cruising the city in the hope of finding the perfect apparatus.
Does it have a bag? Is it easy to empty? Why are other options better or worse than this red one? Can it suck up water from a piece of furniture or a carpet? I tend to spill my drinks… Why is this one more powerful but still cheap comparing to the next one? Are there going to be any new models coming out soon?
Half of this information I could gather by reading the inscriptions on the packaging. The other half was left unavailable to me.
Typically, I prefer salespeople who don’t jump all over me. But I really wouldn’t have minded getting some information here. Also, if I weren’t an easygoing customer, the shop wouldn’t have made a $100 deal that day. If I wasn’t in a hurry and was prepared to wait for delivery, I would have bought the thing online.
And how easy it would have been for them to educate me, sell me the cleaner (which I wanted to buy anyway, so they wouldn’t have to move a finger) AND delight me! A quick presentation of all the functionalities, with a demonstration (spilling a cup of coffee on a cheap carpet and sucking it up for the purpose of demonstration wouldn’t cost too much, I reckon), comparing a few different models on the spot… I would have gotten the feeling that I spent my money well. I would have gotten the impression that I was dealing with professionals who knew their business and their merchandise’s worth well. I would have recommended them to all the people I know.
Which I didn’t. And won’t ever do.
This company probably won’t last long.
But let’s translate this experience into a business that manages the majority of their user engagement online (which is more relevant to today and tomorrow).
I found them by doing a local search, looking for the nearest store that sells vacuum cleaners.
What if I found a nicely visualized blog post on their website about the functioning mechanisms of different types of cleaners? Or a funny video about unexpected ways in which I can use this mundane contraption?
The conclusion is evident. If you are a socks manufacturer, you have to give me the reason to buy your socks. You don’t have to be all scholarly about it. Write me a blog post about the history of socks – maybe I’d be interested in learning when and why people started wearing them. Or make a video advertisement about socks which are so good that my dog doesn’t want to steal them but gently puts them in a drawer instead.
Even if I don’t need socks today, I will need them tomorrow, and I’ll sure as hell remember to buy them from you.
Give away free knowledge
It’s true, knowledge demands an investment of time and money. But once you’ve acquired it, don’t be afraid to give it away – for free.
Sure, many people will just come and devour some of your resources without buying anything from you. If your knowledge base is broad and easily accessible, they are likely to come back for more, inviting some of their friends as well. Who doesn’t like a free feast?
You won’t lose, though. Some people will get hooked on the knowledge and pay for premium access. Others will do it in two or three years. Just listen to that murmur across all of your digital outlets and nurture their needs by feeding them a cookie here, a delicious cake there. Incite their hunger, but never keep them hungry for long.
They will pay you, one way or another. They will pay you with their email address required to attend your webinar or download your free ebook. This email address will become a valuable channel for you to send more knowledge their way – this time in person. Email marketing is one of the most valuable ways for the relationship between a company and a person to flourish.
You’ve got it by now. Education is just another euphemism for marketing. Let’s be real: it’s still selling, although it sounds more elegant.
Nobody likes being marketed or sold to, so marketing by education is a glorious kind of selling by not selling. It’s better than any other form of digital marketing. Even more – it permeates all of them and brings out the best from them.
Education is at the core of what Seth Godin called permission marketing – which derives its tremendous power from customer’s permission. If I don’t know I am being marketed to, you can take advantage of it. If I willingly grant you a permission to market to me, you should be proud of it – and try not to betray my trust.
Your customers are smart
You don’t need uninformed customers who buy randomly. True enough, you won’t repudiate them, but you don’t need them to be your customer base.
Furthermore, you don’t need customers who will believe lies about how good your product is. Lying isn’t bad in children stories only. It’s detrimental in real life, too.
This is because lying to customers means belittling their intelligence. Today they are more informed than ever before. Their purchasing choices are wider than ever. It’s never been easier to turn away from a brand because of a single mistake or a little white lie.
Do yourself a favor and don’t make a product based on lies. Don’t lie in order to sell it. Don’t say it’s good if it isn’t.
Instead, create a product you believe in. If you do, the story of it is going to be believable, too.
But if customers can find all the possible resources online, what is left for you to educate them about?
Educating someone doesn’t mean you are the god of information and knowledge. Chances are Wikipedia knows better than you, and you certainly won’t ever be able to beat Google when it comes to accessibility of information.
But there’s something that can differentiate you in your customer’s eyes. The information that comes from you is genuine, based on your particular experience and expertise, grounded in your specific set of skills and value. It’s not some random encyclopedic knowledge, broad and uniform. It’s knowledge with an identity, expandable, applicable, relevant.
After all, you won’t provide just another ocean of links. It’s going to be carefully chosen knowledge that comes as a result of an interaction and interest, curated in the right moment, put in context for them. After all, who knows more about your industry than you?
According to a 2015 customer engagement report by Rosetta, engaged customers prove to be the best kind of customers. Their value to the brand is three times bigger than the value of unengaged ones.
An engaged customer is the one who has developed a personal relationship with the brand.
Education is a beast with many faces. Show them all
Again, let’s not talk in scholarly terms.
Customers’ reviews are the kind of education which serves other potential customers to inform and improve their decision-making process.
Testimonials and case studies are another way to inform your prospects. Just make sure they are real. “You guys rock” written by someone called John Doe from an anonymous company won’t trick anyone.
A blog is another form of education. Just like we are doing right now, you can write articles on a regular basis about certain topics that are relevant to your audience. Blogs don’t have to be written. They can be spoken or made into a video.
Tutorials, webinars, whitepapers related to your company or industry, carefully targeted email campaigns, conferences, there are tons of things you can do to single yourself out from your competition.
As I mentioned earlier, even a short and funny half-minute video can make a difference. While it doesn’t educate in the traditional sense, it still gives a fresh stamp to your brand.
According to a recently published Walker report about the future of customer experience, in the next couple of years, companies will have to switch from selling solutions to selling insights. This doesn’t just pertain to B2B businesses, but also B2C – that is, businesses that are selling to clients, rather than other businesses.
So, if you want to win the race with your competitors, put education in the center of your business and your brand’s culture. It’s remarkable how great a potential lies in your work – in everybody’s work. All you need to do is transform it into words, dress it into knowledge and communicate it proactively and in diverse ways to all the prospects. Then listen to their response and act accordingly.
It’s a dynamic game, but the rewards are awesome.
So, don’t oversell. Don’t hard sell. Let your customers consume some value first.
Feed them knowledge.
They’ll pay you manyfold.