That’s what it all boils down to — speaking to your customer on a one-to-one basis.
I remember, while studying news writing and copy writing in college, the instructors — respected journalists and professionals teaching part-time — talking about one-to-one communication.
“Yes, you’re looking at a camera and talking to thousands of people. But, you need to write, then read, your script as though you were talking to just one person.”
That was the sage advice of these respected journalists and copywriters. That was at least a couple of years before the Internet, I’m sorry to say. Today, those professionals might well be teaching blogging and Twitting. A recent Harris Interactive poll showed European consumers say the Internet is their most influential medium. It’s twice as influential as television, and eight times more influential than printed newspapers.
But why not? The Internet is a great big give-and-take free for all! One of the bummers of this research is that consumers don’t quite trust the Internet, yet. While two-thirds of Brits polled say they use the Internet to “help them make better decisions,” only one-fourth of that same universe trust the information they get. Maybe they’re following that old programming maxim of GIGO, or maybe they’re just Brits (no wonder we left the empire!). Sorry for the digression, stay with me… it’ll be worth it.
Among Blogs, on YouTube, on Twitter, in Social Networks and other Internet realms of user-generated content (UGC), people are talking. People give and seek opinions of others, especially those who’ve built an online reputation for areas of expertise (I’ve seen a dozen or so wine judging sites in the last couple of weeks alone!) Those people are your customers. And your customers are talking about you. So join in the conversation! When a blogger mentions she enjoyed your product at a party the other night, Thank her for trying it. Offer her more insights into why it’s made the way it is. Invite her to try brand extensions. Welcome her to send you further feedback in the future! When a c-level executive opens that dialog with a customer, you score major goodwill and build stronger relationships… not just with that consumer, but all who read her blog. And, just as importantly, you get honest insights from people who use your product.
To paraphrase the philosopher Kramer, “You’re out there…. and you’re loving every minute of it!”
This is a gospel we’ve begun preaching to our clients. Time will tell when and if they can trace sales to chatter on the ‘net. But, it’s one of those things that just feels like the right thing to do — speaking to the consumer in a one-to-one environment. It’s where we’re headed. So, buckle up. And those college instructors’ advice, those twenty-something years ago, is going to come in handy!