It’s very personal

Imagine it's someone you care deeply for when you're justifying business practices. In my head I sometimes see Grandpa Juan.

Imagine it’s someone you care deeply for when you’re justifying business practices. In my head I sometimes see Grandpa Juan.

I never fail to surprise myself when I catch myself saying “It’s not personal, it’s business.” When in reality all business is personal and emotions come into play at every touch point.

It has always been this way. When I was in high school and my history teacher, Mrs. Miller talked about how hunter-gatherers would trade from the early agrarian societies that was business in its purest form. A fair exchange based on value and trust. And in middle school, when I traded my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a school lunch ticket, it was very personal.

Why is business now about a balance of power? Holding the “consumer” at arm’s length. Making the transaction between them and us. Brands and consumers. I refuse to accept the use of currency as an excuse. Go back just one generation and the local grocer knew that at a basic level.

When did people stop being people and become, traffic, customers, users, members, followers or a target audience?

The people I want to do business with, the ones I want to connect with and am hoping will respond are not just labels in my marketing vocabulary or a share of their wallets to be transacted with.

They are my friends, my family, and these people deserve to be treated like it’s personal. Because when I make a connection with them it becomes person. No matter how they rationalize their buying decision. It is personal to them and it should be to you.

Good Marketing/Bad Marketing

The most you can hope for is to try to maintain your influential role in consumers' decisions and behavior.

The most you can hope for is to try to maintain your influential role in consumers’ decisions and behavior.

Customers are becoming more and more fed up, but really they are just tired and annoyed by bad marketing. Customers appreciate relevant information because it is the only way to be updated about what is interesting to them. Marketing has always been, and it will always be about being the connection between you abd your customer. You must be caring, helpful and even entertaining. And sincere.

Everyone buys for a different reason. Being helpful to your customer requires investing more time on the strategy and basics of communication.

Companies feel that they can’t afford the extra time, but what they really can’t afford is to keep annoying customers. This is your wife, your son, your Dad. Many companies don’t think in these terms. Unnecessarily annoying your friend is making it harder for everyone else, including you, to get the chance to tell your story. In the near future, the person annoyed today will become more reluctant to engage with you.

It is bad enough that so many brands compete for the same customers, but it makes it even worse when others that have nothing helpful to offer or say simply join the noise.

Part of the problem is not enough resources, relevant information and time to do a good job at trying to target potential customers. It’s more effective to be helpful to a few than annoying to many. This way, we have a better chance to succeed and customers will want to learn and be helped.

Conclusion – for now

In order for your company to maintain your influential role in your consumers’ decisions and behavior, you have to do a much better job. Personal marketing is more difficult to plan and execute, but it is the only way to convince customers that today is the day they should buy from you. And you won’t break your trust to them tomorrow.

One of the biggest mistakes in marketing is to think that marketers are the experts when the truth is that customers are. The customer tells us if we are right or wrong. Still, in most cases we don’t listen to them.

I listen.

What Are the Consequences?

Everything has consequences.

Everything has consequences. The best you can hope for is to control your actions.

All of these so-called new marketing tools and huge market changes are dramatically influencing the way we do marketing today; but the effect has not always been positive to customers and marketing in general.

The problem is that so many of these new channels are quick to get started on them, easy to use, and inexpensive. But the arrogance of so many companies is that they hire based on what they want to pay for the job, not on what the person hired can do for the company. And in today’s transparent marketplace, an employee can affect a company in a positive or negative way very quickly.

If you don’t have the right person to plan and implement your marketing strategies, the best you can hope is that nothing happens. No sales. No engagement. No negative impacts to your bottom line.

We get to hear about the worst that can happen almost daily as cautionary tales in the news and as “fails” on social channels. Some inexperienced employee replies to a negative attack or a troll post, or some experienced business executive thinks he can ignore a problem until something that meant nothing to him goes viral and costs him his career.

Today a different set of skills, experience and DNA is needed. Even though a lot has changed, something that hasn’t is the fundamentals of marketing and communication.

Or consequences.