How to Connect with Customers in the Age of Assistance

We’re living in the age of assistance. What does that mean for marketers?

Marketing tips in the age of assistance
Customers have more options than ever before today, thanks to technology. Therefore, each buyer’s journey is unique and customers are looking for valuable content to educate themselves before making a purchase.

“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Your marketing strategy needs to be focused on your customer or prospect. Where do they look for information? How do they like to shop? How do they like to interact with brands?

If people need help, they usually start with Google. (While the search giant reaches 93% of US consumers, note that your customer base or target audience may use Bing or another search engine. It’s important to know where your customers go.) We’re busy, distracted and always on the go, so people are searching on mobile, including reviews, for information to make decisions in the moment.

Consider this example… Jon is working at home when he hears water running. The problem is that he’s not running any water. After heading upstairs, he realizes that his toilet is overflowing. He lives in an older home, so there’s no shut-off for the toilet; he needs to turn off his water at the main shut-off. Quickly, he Googles shut off water main and finds a YouTube video showing him how to locate his main water valve and shut it off. Jon follows the directions and shuts off his water before suffering any damage. Who does he call to fix the toilet? The local plumbing company who provided the video, of course.

Note that this local company gave Jon the information he needed first. He didn’t have to dig through their website or sit through a sales pitch beforehand. Educating consumers before you ask for a purchase or deliver a call-to-action (CTA) drives business.

 

Meet People in the Moment

People are living in the moment today, so they rarely plan in advance. Jon probably should have known where his main water shut-off valve was, but he had recently moved in and hadn’t gotten around to finding it yet. He’s not alone.

Mobile searches for today, tomorrow or now are up 900%. Our phones are never out of reach, so it’s always convenient to find the information we need—in a traffic jam, at the doctor’s office or at your kid’s ballet recital.

How can you meet your customers or prospects in the moment?

Start where they start: Google yourself.

Google yourself, your category and your business. Do you like what you see?

 

Google yourself, your category and your business (in incognito mode, if you prefer). Do you like what you see? Are you providing valuable content to help your customers and prospects educate themselves and move along the buyer’s journey? Or are you only asking for the buy? Be a part of the conversation along the entire journey, so consumers can get to know your company and form an emotional connection with you. If you just show up at the end when consumers are ready to buy, they’re likely to go with another company who has been there all along the way.

While we’re on this subject, does your business have a Google My Business listing? If not, set one up. This free resource helps you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, boosting your SEO efforts. Remember to include a phone number too. It allows people to quickly call you, which could be the difference between you getting an opportunity or your competitor.

While Google My Business is an important starting point, don’t stop there. Tracking how your customers first found you is important, but so is measuring every moment that matters to your business. Each buyer’s journey is unique today, so you need to track every interaction with your customer and map out their individual customer journey.

Your customer may have found your company through Google, but then she visited your website, read a few blog articles to learn more about a subject that interested her and connected with you on your Facebook Page. After those steps, she contacted you to discuss a project. If she hadn’t made all of those steps, she may not have ever contacted you to do business. That’s why it’s so important to measure every interaction or touch point with your customers, so you understand how they want to be communicated with and helped along their unique buyer’s journey.

 

Make an Emotional Connection

People are looking for more from brands and businesses today. They don’t want to just buy stuff; they want to support companies who have similar values to theirs and are good corporate citizens.

Tell your brand’s story: how you got started, why you’re in business and the faces behind the brand name. Talk about your charitable efforts and community involvement, so customers can see your values in action. They want to know where their hard-earned dollars are going and what kind of company they’re supporting. Tell your founder’s story and shine the spotlight on your employees with behind-the-scenes content, including how your product is made, a day in the life or following employees outside the office.

Creating an emotional connection with your audience is crucial to your marketing and sales efforts.

 

While customers want to get to know your business or brand, they also want to be entertained. Most people make decisions emotionally and then look for rational reasons to support their decisions—especially when we’re making so many decisions today in the moment.

So, your content needs to educate, entertain and connect with your customer on an emotional level. In fact, advertising campaigns are twice as likely to perform well if they contain emotional content instead of rational content. Buyers consuming your content want to feel a connection with your brand—not think about how your brand will help them.

In 2019, we average a 3-second attention span online, so you need to grab a viewer’s attention quickly. Create joy or surprise right away to keep viewers engaged with your content. Consumers get distracted every 10 minutes, on average, and take three minutes to refocus, so you’ll need to keep them engaged the entire time they’re consuming your content. If you lose them, they may jump to something else and never come back.

3 Key Principles in the Age of Assistance

  1. Be There—Connect with the right people during key moments of intent.
  2. Be Valuable—Give consumers the information they need where they are.
  3. Be Quick—Automatically act on intent. Consumers expect quick responses today!

As marketing professionals, how can you deliver on these three key principles?

  1. Know Your Audience—Go beyond demographics to target consumers effectively. Detailed buyer personas are important!
  2. Know Your Brand’s Story—Tell your story, so your audience can understand your values and connect with your business on an emotional level.
  3. Conceptualize the Space—Understand the marketing domains your customers are operating in so well that you know the best ways to connect and communicate with them in those areas.
  4. Self-Educate—Marketing knowledge is constantly updating today, so you need to always be learning.

Understanding your customers (beyond simple demographics) is so important today, because you need to meet them where they are when they need you. What data do you have on your customers (that you’re protecting)? How can you leverage that data to better serve them (not to sell to them)?

Knowing how your customers first heard of you is no longer enough. Go beyond the first click to measure every interaction or touch point with your buyer. It will change your understanding of how each customer wants to be communicated with and helped along the way.

Follow your customers across social media platforms (however they use them) to email and messaging services to brick and mortar locations. We’re living in the age of assistance where micro-moments and individual interactions matter for your business. How are you making the most of every single one?

Questions? Comments? Leave your feedback We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Are you struggling to connect with your customers in the age of assistance? Let’s discuss how we can help you with your marketing efforts!

Let’s connect,
Jaime

Vlog: Why You Still Need a Website Today

I recorded this video the day after a massive Facebook and Instagram outage, but it’s message is relevant whenever you’re watching it. Social media is a powerful marketing tool for your business, but you still need a website today.

Your website is the hub of all your digital marketing activities.

Your website is your home on the internet, your front door to customers and prospects everywhere. It helps visitors learn more about your company and how you can help them. They can find your website via search engines, social media platforms, advertising campaigns and even offline marketing efforts.

A well-designed, updated website improves your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and works with social media to enhance your online presence and give your business credibility.

Link Building to Success: Optimize Your Website

So, does your business or brand have a website? If so, drop it in the comments, so we (and our readers) can check it out! If not, let us know why you don’t feel that you need one.

What questions do you have about your website or websites in general?

A reluctant Vlogger,
Jaime

Vlog: This Underutilized Idea Will Help Make Your Marketing Memorable 

What does memorable marketing look like? This piece from FedEx.

The shipping company utilizes its new eCom Label Solutions to promote the benefits of its new eCom Label Solutions. That may sound obvious, but it’s not.

Using your new product or service to promote your new product or service is an innovative and underutilized idea in the marketing world.

Watch our first vlog, and let us know what you think in the comments.

Cheers!

The CCC Team

Are You Being Heard? Communication Tips For Your Brand

Local Call by Wes Peck via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Communication. It’s so simple, right? We learn to do it at a young age, and it’s second nature. So why is it so difficult to communicate effectively with your customers, business partners and employees?

"The biggest illusion in communication is that it has taken place."  -George Bernard Shaw

Sure, you blast out emails to your customers and employees, blast out promotional social updates and blast out glossy hyperbole in your monthly newsletter. But what are you actually saying?

Before you send another email, post another update or publish another newsletter, read what you wrote—as a recipient. Who are you trying to reach? What would a person in your target audience think of your communication? Even if it’s only an email to a colleague, employee or business partner… would you understand what you’re trying to say?

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I might remember. Involve me and I will understand.”  -Benjamin Franklin

How do you know what your recipients need and want (two different issues)? Ask them. Observe them (in a non-stalking manner). Put yourself in their shoes. Spend a day in their life handling their challenges and looking for opportunities.

When you take your customers’ needs and wants into consideration, and involve them in your solutions, you stand out in a sea of information overload and tend to be heard. That would make the late, great Gabrielle Bonheur (Coco) Chanel proud. Are you being heard?

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”  -Coco Chanel

Communicate with CCC

What is your most effective type of communication?

What type of communication would you like to improve?

Do you have “miscommunication” issues often?

Do you have a communication question? Leave a comment or ask us on social media.

p.s. We’d love help you communicate with your target audience(s)! Check out our marketing, writing and social media services, and contact us to discuss your needs. Each project receives personal attention at CCC!

Your Captain of Communication,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
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Trick Out Your Tweets: Tips to Stand Out on Twitter

Tips to Help You Stand Out on Twitter

Do you tweet? (Or as someone once asked me, “Are you on that Tweeter thing?”) Does it feel like you’re accomplishing anything? Or, at the end of the day, are you just confused what the buzz is about? (When Twitter went public, it was kind of a big deal. As in, it created 1,600 new millionaires big deal.)

Twitter bird

What’s all this buzz over a little bird?

Whether you’re tweeting  for personal or professional reasons, the following tips should help you stand out from the crowd.

Join the conversation! You may notice that CCC is always asking you to join the conversation. What exactly does that mean? Talk to people! Respond to tweets that interest you. Retweet them to share them with your followers. Favorite them for later reference. Thank others for retweeting you, or return the favor if it makes sense. Search hashtags that interest you or your company and jump into discussions that you can add value to (not necessarily with a sales pitch though).

Social media is all about getting social, so talk to people as much as possible. Try not to just broadcast information all day long. People are social creatures; they want to interact with you. I’ve connected with so many people just by thanking them for a retweet and asking a question or commenting on something in their profile. Profiles are dynamite for conversation fodder, which is why it’s so important to have a good one. Profile and cover pictures are another fantastic icebreaker.

What’s in a social media profile? Everything

Forget the rules — Everywhere you look, someone is laying down the law about something on Twitter, or social media in general. Tweet every hour. Don’t tweet more than 5 times per day. Automate. Don’t automate. Schedule. Don’t schedule. Don’t self-promote. You have to self-promote. Respond to people immediately. Unplug once in a while. Send direct messages. People hate DMs.

No Photo on Twitter Profile

Include a picture on your Twitter profile. Don’t be a silhouette!


Honestly, it all boils down to common sense.
Would you contact someone 30 times a day? Probably not, so don’t do it on Twitter. Would you say that to someone’s face? Probably not, so don’t say it on Twitter. The problem with rules is that you can become paralyzed by them. Pay attention, treat (or tweet) people with respect and you’ll be fine. Plus, you’ll start to find your style and settle in. One good rule to follow? Give people a heads up when you’re going to live tweet an event or webinar, participate in a Twitter chat or tweet a lot more than normal. (h/t @kathyyoho)

Be Yourself. Stay true to your self (or brand voice), and do what’s comfortable to you. Let your personality show. People shouldn’t be surprised when they meet you in real life, because you’re really different from your Twitter persona. It’s difficult to keep up a fake persona anywhere online, so don’t waste your time. Plus, when people find out who you really are (positive or negative difference), it can be unsettling and hard to trust you. Would you want to work with, hire someone or recommend someone who’s put up a false front? Neither do other people.

Automation also falls into this category. To automate or not to automate? If you’re going to automate tweets, make sure that you trust the source completely. It’s not that a blog or site is likely to post offensive content (although that happens); they may blog about a topic sometimes that you don’t want to share. Also, if you schedule, it’s imperative that you or someone you trust has access to modify or delete these tweets before they go out. Some brands have gotten into hot water due to pre-scheduled tweets that went out as scheduled when they were no longer appropriate.

Treat (or tweet) others with respect. Don’t say something to someone (or even retweet something) that you wouldn’t say to their face. Remember, everything that happens online affects your life. You can delete a tweet, but you can never really delete a tweet. It’s stored somewhere. That doesn’t mean that you have to avoid sarcasm or never joke around. Just make sure that people understand the situation. If you’re pissed off about something, venting on Twitter isn’t a good idea.

Thou shalt not destroy your reputation online.

Also, don’t smother famous people or standouts on a particular platform. Feel free to follow and engage with anyone (that’s why they’re on Twitter), but don’t ask special favors of or get upset with people if they don’t agree with you or respond immediately. We’re all human; sometimes we miss tweets or are busy in real life. Think about it. Would you want to engage with people when you have 500,000 followers if all they do is ask you to RT them, donate to a cause or recommend them to someone? No, you wouldn’t. So remember to treat others as you’d want to be treated on Twitter and elsewhere. Life usually works out when you do.

Join the Conversation

How do you use Twitter—personally, professionally or both?

What tips would you add to stand out on Twitter?

What other advice would you share about using Twitter effectively?

Tweeting since ’09,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Twitter, your marketing efforts or otherwise):

What’s in a social media profile? Everything

Utilize your social media cover photos to share your message.

Social media is still buzzing, even as it has moved from a trend to a mainstream marketing activity. (Of course, some people still don’t take it seriously for brands and businesses, but they’ll come around.) So many people still overlook one of the most important aspects—the profile.

Jaime Shine | Clearly Conveyed Communications Twitter Profile

First, let’s focus on the profile picture. This is your first step to legitimacy. It’s hard to take a generic silhouette seriously. Not photogenic? Neither am I, but you need a good head shot. With today’s technology, that’s easier to obtain than ever. Some will disagree, but I see nothing wrong with cropping a candid shot or using a personal picture if it projects the image you want. Yes, you can use your company’s logo, but it’s nice to put a face with a name when possible and help humanize the cold, digital world.

Contact information. It amazes me how often people list no contact information, even a website. People need to be able to contact you to continue conversations, discuss projects or partner on an initiative. Plus, there’s other benefits. Contact information gives your business or brand legitimacy and allows users to learn more about (and promote) your business.

Include your contact information on your social media profiles.

The profile. This is your chance to shine. Think of it as your elevator speech in 160 characters or less. OK, that rule applies to Twitter, but keep it in mind for all of your social networks. Our attention spans aren’t much these days, so you need to be able to capture someone’s attention (in a positive way) before they jump to another profile or task.

Who are you? What do you do? Show your personality. Unless you just invented something that no one else on Earth has, you have competition. Why should a user follow or connect with you (or your business)?

This is where the magic happens. Show people who you are. Intrigue them enough to follow, like, connect, befriend. Spark an interest that makes them want to reach out and say hello. Your profile can be a great conversation starter if done right.

While I do strive for consistency across platforms, I also recognize the unique traits of each platform. As a small business owner, I want clients, prospects, fans and followers to know who’s behind the Clearly Conveyed Communications banner, so they can connect with a real person. That’s why I’ve made the decision to keep most of my social media accounts under my name (with my business noted in my profile) and utilize them for work and play. I believe in transparency, and this is the best way for me to maximize my resources.

Grab attention with your social media cover photo!

Last but not least, the cover photo. More social networks have followed Facebook’s lead and maximized the cover photo on your profile. This is a chance to powerfully convey your or your company’s brand visually. Ask impartial friends or family members to take a look at your photo. What does it portray to them? Make sure you utilize a photo that displays well in the frame provided and follows the platform’s policies. The last thing you want is to have your profile or page pulled down because you’re violating terms. (Remember, it may be your content, but you don’t own your Facebook page. Facebook does.)

Your turn…

What do you focus on in your social media profiles?

Do your profiles accurately represent you or your company?

Do you use the same pictures and profiles across your social network or different ones?

Link to your social media presences in the comments below so we can connect, or say hi on your favorite social network.

Let’s get social!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your social media profiles, social media marketing needs or otherwise):