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Throw your Customers a Life Preserver

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When they’re drowning in information

by: Melissa Mannozzi

Don’t give them what they want

Do you ever find yourself trying to digest a swarm of information from email and the web, then end up falling through endless wormholes of ideas, forums and downloads? So do your customers.

With so much information available today, people struggle to keep their heads above water. Make sure you’re the one your customer hears above the noise by giving them what they need and speaking to them in the right voice.


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Notice I said ‘what they need,’ not ‘what they want.’ Many times, your customer may not even know what he needs.

How do I know what my audience needs?

Get out there and talk to them, understand them, talk like them. That can’t happen unless you get to know them.

The key is listening.

That may be a simple task, depending on your line of work. If you’re a writer, interact with other writers, and your website is for writers, then chances are you know your customer.

If you already know your customer

Janet is an accountant and, since she meets with many of her clients in face-to-face meetings, she knows her clients well. Most of her clients are small business owners and she’s noticed most of them face similar challenges in their personal and business lives. She wants to keep her clients engaged and decides to send weekly business advice to her clients. She decides to send these weekly emails at 8:30 every Saturday morning, a time when her clients typically catch up on email.

Even though Janet knows her customers, she should still follow-up after sending several emails to hear their reactions. Sure, she can tell if people open the email, but she needs to know if they find it useful.

Don’t always assume you know your audience.

If you’re a non-fiction writer with a website for writers and fiction writers are the majority of your site traffic, their needs may be very different from yours.

A complex customer base

Businesses with a blended customer base may have a bigger challenge.

Kimpton Hotels have over 60 boutique properties across the country so their customer base covers a wide range of demographics. The staff make a point to post personal recommendations on each hotel’s website so guests know what locals do and where they go.

People have come to rely on these staff recommendations because you won’t find many of them in a travel guide. By getting to know their guests, Kimpton has filled a need and built customer loyalty. Their web traffic and search results have also improved.

What gets them out of bed?

Don’t worry if your business is more complex than the examples of listed here. Take the time to get to know your customer, understand their pain points, and find out what gets them out of bed in the morning. Well, Kimpton knows what gets customers out of their beds… their staff recommended it.

Don’t be shy about asking. Customers love knowing you’re interested in them, and they’ll be happy to talk about themselves.

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Build trust

Begin to build trust with your audience:

  • Speak in a clear, honest voice
  • Stay away from using complex business terminology
  • Go easy on the marketing lingo and buzzwords
  • Kill the industry acronyms unless your customers use them
  • Speak like your audience
  • Simplify your message and respect their time by getting to the point

Spend a little research and a little time and you’ll begin to know your customer better. Sounds like a Rolling Stones song, but if you listen, you might find buried in those conversations exactly what it is they need.

Rinse and Repeat

Make regular adjustments, and over time you should see positive results. Find a pattern that works and repeat the formula.

  • Did your open rate increase when you used the shorter headline in the last two emails?
  • Did you include a link to useful content and notice a spike in web visitors?
  • Did you double your word count in the last mail piece and it killed your read rate?

No matter how successful your campaigns are, never stop listening to your customers. You’ll build a reputation of credibility and become your customers’ go-to source for information.

Resources:
http://skift.com/2013/10/28/how-kimpton-hotels-built-its-brand-on-the-local-experience/#1

What are your thoughts on getting to know your customers better? Do you have additional ideas or first-hand experiences you’d like to share with our readers? Please leave a comment.

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