Let’s have a conversation, not a monologue!
In the digital world, as in real life, few like it when you continually talk about yourself while in a conversation. They even coined a term for it ‘Conversational Narcissism‘ whereby you disregard the existence of the other party and blurb on ad nauseam! As once quoted by Epictetus – ‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak’. As a digital brand, engaging your customer in real-time should be your second nature – a key ingredient to your outlook & success.
As a long-time adviser and consultant to individual brands & small businesses, I continually encounter many digital brand managers and business owners who still believe that marketing is all about broadcasting or continually posting your message to as many prospective customers as possible on social media pages, WhatsApp groups or free online listings hitting them again and again with what you offer until it sticks and finally- someone gets in-touch to inquire or buy! What an immense effort that doesn’t guarantee success.
They don’t realize that customers today are looking for relationships, meaning two-way conversations with your business. They ignore all else as just plain noise. Customer conversations are easy today, through responding to inquiries on social media, direct online messages & web live chats, and interactive applications on mobile devices.
The question then becomes – how do I develop engaging conversations with customers and potential clients?
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1. Begin with paying attention to your customer’s input.
In great marketing, as in real life, starting the conversation is just the beginning. You have to focus and listen to what the potential customer is saying during the conversation to fully understand their message and needs. We all know people who don’t listen while we are talking. Don’t let your business be one.
For example, it’s easy to get so focused on selling the product you have, that you miss the customer desire for free shipping, or personalization, or colors you don’t have. Instant empathy and positive responses will make new customers your best advocate, bringing customer friends and repeat business you can’t get with traditional marketing.
2. Stop talking about your products. Focus on the buyer’s journey
Nobody wants to listen to someone drone on about how great they are. Yet, throughout the decades, common advertising web-copy especially on company websites and social media pages has been description of product features, their services and benefits or even how advanced the company has come from its inception date.
This is all good in describing what the brand or business is all about but provides no helpful information about how the products and/ or services will fill a pain-point experienced by your customer or prospective client. Don’t let your digital conversation and marketing do the same thing. A successful content marketing strategy turns traditional advertising on its head by first asking customers to tell you what they need, only then bringing up what your business offers to meet those exact needs. Pull in customers with questions, rather than pushing answers to them.
3. Close on a sale transaction at the right time.
As with all relationships that you want to last, preparing for a close must be done with patience and two-way conversations. Old-fashioned marketers feel the pressure to produce an immediate return on investment (ROI), and prefer the billboard approach to closing. Do less pitching and more teaching.
5. Have credible data to support factual content.
We have all had conversations with a ‘know-it-all’ especially on digital platforms who makes questionable statements or condescending remarks in reply, causing us to lose trust now and for the long term with the digital brand. Make sure your content can withstand even the most critical scrutiny, and doesn’t come across like marketing hype, unsubstantiated claims or abrasive replies.
As an example especially true with digital businesses, we have all seen wellness and lifestyle brands online that promise weight loss, better virility or even revitalized skin without any reference to a real study supporting these assertions. Credibility is key in developing relationships. As a reseller or distributor of aforementioned products, provide reference of manufacturer information or even safer, let your advocates and their friends share their facts and stories of success.
Why do all this?
Conversation marketing will help you connect your business to the hearts of your customers for the long term, not just to their minds for a single transaction. They want a sense of personal value and a relationship before they act. You can’t deliver that with a one-way monologue.
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