Image by amburn.everett via Flickr
by Frank Reed
I have been on a big kick lately to examine business-related content (both client and non-client) with a different set of lenses. I have been as guilty as the next guy in trying to uncover or even create some great mystery around content creation. The more I search, though, the more I find that there is a great way for companies of all sizes to market themselves through their content.
How you ask? Well, I don’t care if you are IBM or Bubba’s Country Store—you must remember that your audiences are just people. People like you and me. No matter what kind of façade they put up, they still put their pants on one leg at a time. They still have emotions and they just want to be treated fairly.
I know there are exceptions to this rule, but I contend that the vast majority of people in this world like things to be as simple, easy and straightforward as possible. Especially as the world gets louder and more aggressive, people seek an honest voice of reason to cut through the clutter and to help them make a good decision.
I’ll give you an example. About 8 years ago, I was introduced to a man who cut my hair until he passed away a year and a half ago. He was just a nice guy who cared about me and did good work. Well, his daughter also worked in his shop, but I never had her cut my hair until the first time I went in for a haircut after her father had passed.
You see, I didn’t consider letting someone else cut my hair when her daddy was alive, but I knew how he loved his daughter, and it was the right thing to do to continue to give their family my business. Why? Because I am a human being who craves simple connections. I am just like your customers. I like that I could sit down and talk with my “barber” (Chester would have hated that term) and now I can do the same with his family, often talking about him, and I now even bring my son with me.
What’s this have to do with marketing, content, and business? Everything. We are so quick to try to make a science out of something that is about human beings and we often miss the mark because of it.
We speak over our audience because we know something they don’t. We talk down to our audience because we THINK we know something they don’t. We completely miss our audience because we never really figure out what they want from us.
We do everything to make our audience want us except the one thing that we can do the best—just be ourselves. Just be a regular person who is looking to help out another regular person. It’s marketing’s version of the golden rule: Market unto others as you would have others market unto you.
Stop trying to be cool and chic. The vast majority of people don’t care about that kind of stuff (and those that do will dump you quickly to go with the next shiny object that comes into their path). The shiny object crew are not customers—they are just transactions. Businesses need a mix of both, but customers are the priority.
Treat your customer like they are visiting you at the corner store. Treat them well. Be genuinely concerned about their needs and respond when they need you to. Remember that they are a lot like you, and that’s a good thing.