[Marketing Memo] Up Hill Both Ways
By Cary Weston
Gary Vaynerchuk in his book "The Thank You Economy", titled his first chapter "How Everything Has Changed, Except Human Nature". His point: while technology develops at blazing speeds, the powerful effect of being heard, being listened to, and being acknowledged has never changed. What was true back in the days of the neighborhood blacksmith and corner butcher shop is still true today - people want to be appreciated.
And back in the "olden days" if you were the neighborhood butcher, baker, or the candlestick maker, you went out of your way to give great service and pay attention to those basic human needs. Not because it was a marketing strategy, per se, but because you essentially had to. People talked with and listened to each other. If you made someone smile, word got around. And if you didn't follow through on your word, you can bet the local folks were going to find out as well.
That's still happening now. The stakes may be bigger and the information moves faster. It's with technology and not face to face.
We communicate in person less today. Oh sure we talk. Bu what we don't seem to do well is listen.The keyboard has replaced the handshake and with it comes a new frontier of neighborhood exposure.
And our neighborhood is suddenly huge.
It's interesting to me that as I look at all the technology tools in Facebook, Twitter, etc, what we've done is invested hundreds of millions of dollars so that people can essentially talk.
But who's listening? Are you? Because just as there's opportunity in good service, there's plenty of opportunity in listening too.
Enter social media.
It's a term that scares a lot of business owners because it's not something concrete and easily understood. It's a communication and connection tool and, like any tool, how you use it requires a deeper plan. Buying a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter. Starting a Twitter account won't make you rich.
But both have potential to help you do some great things.
I once had someone tell me that they had no interest in Twitter because it's just a bunch of people talking about what they had for breakfast and the last movie they rented. They said they didn't care about anyone's cereal or the last DVD that was checked out.
But guess what: Kellogg's and Netflix do.
And while your business may not look like Kellogg's and Netflix, those conversations can be just as important to you and your business.
Listening in is what makes social media a game changer. The ability to view, in real time, all the micro thoughts that humans never would have taken the time and effort to communicate are now free for public viewing.
I'm always amazed at the ease of which folks spread their thoughts, opinions, even their complaints, through the social media universe. And I'm even more fascinated when someone is amazed when there's a reply from business. It's as if we've come to expect that no one is actually listening.
My friends, there's opportunity there.
And those that step up to take advantage of the opportunity and see a way to personalize their companies, make the wrong right, solve someone's problem, or simply show gratitude - what we call 'humanizing the brand' - will be able to reap the rewards.
If you're a garage door company, seeing someone complain about shoveling snow off their car may be an opportunity. If you're a flower shop, seeing birthdays and other special events in real time would help you create business opportunities, I'm sure.
So your Monday Morning Marketing task is this: What type of conversations and situations would give your business opportunities? What problems are you solving? What type of people are you helping?
For just about every answer, there's going to be a social technology tool that can help you be a part of those conversations. And I'd be happy to help you make sense of it.
Remembering that there's still a blood pumping human behind the keyboard is what will help your business grow as you make best use of the tools of today to connect like the world did yesterday.
Speaking of yesterday - it's funny how there seems to be less people walking uphill both ways these days. I wonder if technology had something to do with that too.
- Cary Weston is a partner of Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications in Bangor, Maine
Company's Web: www.sutherlandweston.com
Cary's Twitter Acct: www.twitter.com/cary_weston
Cary's Linked In Acct: www.linkedin.com/in/caryweston
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