Six Ways to Connect with Customers


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Your customers have their own antenna, complete with BS detector without needing a two-year plan for it.  While it was easy to see how a bit of attention and time on your part would have given you better information about their taste, purchasing history, and where they hang out, technology can help you remember who did what better.

Add to that the layer of social, and you have a way to make marketing more relevant to your customers, and get better results. Gianluca Diegoli shares with us five ways to make that happen. To me there are six areas of opportunity.

Here's where ideas have signal:

(1.) Geolocation services

In a conversation about Foursquare and Gowalla at Citizen Marketer 2.1, a few in the comments pointed out that these are tools used by technology early adopters. Gianluca is right, being in a place is good information for a merchant to target, yet you could be there without any intention to buy.

We did say that checking in as status symbol is not enough, there needs to be more. Darin Kirschner takes the prize for imagining an application of these services that embeds them in lifestyle. He writes:

[…] what if a college student could earn a coupon for
discounts on big brand beer for their weekender by attending classes?
The kid autochecks in at their class, doesn't leave the location for 40
minutes, and for every 10 or 20 cycles, they earn an electronic discount
on their favorited brand of beer, which becomes redeemable on Friday
afternoon.

The school keeps the kid in class, the beer company makes a
sale, and the parent's groups feel fuzzy that the breweries are being
responsible. Those kinds of direct, interactive rewards are the types of
engagements that I feel are going to drive LBS as time goes on, from a
consumer/brand relationship side.

Becoming the "mayor" of a coffee shop
and getting $1 off of what THEY want you to buy won't amount to much,
but earning cheap libations for attending your classes, or buying your
kid's emergency diapers in a strange city with a minimum of hassle and
at the lowest available local price? That's worth something and only LBS
tech will fit that kind of niche.

Utility within lifestyle is what's next here.

(2.) Past history

Indeed we may step out of character, or change taste. Past is not a predictor of future.

However, I have been quite unimpressed when dropping serious money at a store over time that they wouldn't be the wiser. If technology has democratized the ability to publish, it should also allow merchants to treat their customers as luxury good companies always have.

Why do good bar tenders get nice tips? Because they know your drink.

(3.) Contextual advertising

How do you separate the online behavior for business — for example, research for a blog post or for a social media project — from that of personal use? People may tell you, if you find an engaging (read: not interrupting them) way of asking. 

(4.) Social filtering

Pick your "friends" wisely and you will benefit from what they tag and recommend. Do we really buy things based upon the recommendations of friends, or do we prefer the opinion of a perfect stranger? Charlene Li discussed how search and social network converse more than a year ago. 

Search facilitates the process of discovery. What are customers going to find when they get to your site, company graph and social activities? How about using social content?

(5.) Following

When customers follow your profiles, they show an interest in what you have to say. However, that interest needs validation with participation, interaction, and valuable content — all activities that take time and resources for companies.

As Gianluca reminds us, email marketing could fall into this category, too, when executed with permission. 

(6.) Kick ass product or service

It's probably what costs the most in execution, time, and resources for a business. Especially one that has gotten big over time, experienced many years of little or no competition, and found nice profits in mass production. You should start there, and the rest would follow.

It will be interesting to see how Apple scales in quality and service now that the company is enjoying more mainstream appeal and volumes.

***

Why are we still grappling with this information and saying it's the early days? These technologies are extending and augmenting, not inventing new ways to connect with customers. What do you think is holding companies back?

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0 responses to “Six Ways to Connect with Customers”

  1. THose are all valuable tips, but the problem with bigger companies is that they don’t care about their customers.
    They only care about profit, and when they hear that grrreat customer service means better business, they do it because of the Benjamins. Only (very) small businesses truly care about their customers, because they actually want to improve people’s lives.

  2. I’m wondering what “future history” might be? 😉
    And could we please add the hyphen between “kick” and “ass”? Why would anyone want to kick some ass product, anyway? And “ass service” just sounds…dirty 😉
    (the preceding bought to you by the Punctuation Matters School of Thought)
    In all seriousness, these are good points…but I’d argue that service and product excellence are so important yet so different that they demand their own, separate points. Too, the way to connect with customers is to know your customers–and the way to know your customers is to observe real customers doing real stuff; not focus groups, not surveys, but actually doing stuff that matters to _them_.

  3. @Mars – companies don’t care about anything, they’re entities 😉 People, on the other hand, vary. Sometimes they need to get out of their own way, or of each other’s way to help customers see they care. You seem to be pointing to an issue of scale. The more layers, the harder to get values transmitted and bought into.
    @Joe – on the other hand, there are plenty of ways to kick ass. Glad you were able to get beyond the expression to the sentiment. And yes, I have written abundantly about product and service excellence; the archives swell with posts. One could use some of those tools to observe customers. Again, it’s not about the tools, it’s about what we do with them. Yet, talking about the tools may be a way to get people thinking about new “old” ways of talking with customers. I pick up the phone and talk to customers, or go meet them face to face. Amazing how much one can get done just by being available. Thank you for the grammar lesson. You know, ESL and all that.

  4. Connecting with customers and prospects is all about real communication. The “corporate speak” of past is long gone and those that embrace the principles of social media will flourish and prosper. I think this is where the small business can excell over any bigger company.

  5. I am Anton KOp,a Business Accountancy, degree 3 student. Marketing Management is one of my major course for semester 2. As a major project on this course, I decided to base my project task on “connecting with customers”. Therefore, could you please, send me some information inrelation to my project task.

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