The Human Scene: Imagine this scenario.
Your “old faithful” vacuum cleaner is on its last legs. With a sigh of resignation, you finally give in to your patient spouse’s demand to invest in another one.
You recall that, by chance, you recently came across an ad for a new, state-of-the-art model of Ajax cleaners, replete with features right out of this world – and with a price tag that surely does it justice. You walk into a neighbourhood store and ask whether they have it.
“A superb choice, for sure!” exclaims the salesperson. “You won’t regret it for a second.” His itchy fingers reach out to grab your credit card. But through bitter experience, you know already never to make a major purchase without comparing prices at another outlet or two.
“What, you have money to burn? You don’t look like it to me,” is the unexpected reaction of the second retailer. “Fantastic features? Well, it’s just possible that you’d find them useful if there were a dozen tiny feet running around the house, making one big awful mess. But you folks are empty-nesters, so what for?”
So saying, he introduces you to a somewhat more economical machine, which matches your needs more closely. Are you dreaming?
This species of business person may be as rare as diamonds, but many of us have encountered at least one live example at some stage or other.
The question is – what has any of this got to do with the burgeoning world of online marketing?
The E-mail Way: Thousands of lines have been written on the superiority, in so many respects, of electronic communication.
E-mail is so much faster, both with regard to preparing the copy and the speed of transmission. It’s an awful lot cheaper too, and from the user’s point of view, it is simplicity itself.
As marketing professionals, however, are we making the best use of it? Perhaps, precisely because of the ease and speed of this revolutionary communication medium, our e-mail messages tend to be rather cold and impersonal.
This has its advantages, because it helps us to focus on the information we need to convey and to eliminate background waffling. But to the extent that we lose the personal touch, we let go of marvellous opportunities.
Somebody writes us that he is interested in our product or service because he needs to solve a specific problem. They may or may not proceed to buy the goods.
But at any rate, do we drop them a line a week or two later to ask whether the problem is now a thing of the past?
Imagine dealing with the same customer who walked into the store and you asked them to wait around till it was convenient to you to attend to them.
If we hear on the grapevine that a customer or associate of ours is not well, do we send heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery? Do we wish a safe and happy trip to a client about to leave for the holiday of a lifetime? We would certainly do it if we were in their company at the time. It would be an instant action or reaction.
The big question is can we afford to react and behave differently in these situations, or should we start getting into the great habit of using all these tools in the most efficient way.
A large company may use sophisticated software to do all this, but never allow the impression that anything other than a warm, sympathetic human composed your letter.
There is no prize for guessing on what book title we have parodied the title of this article. But while some accuse Carnegie of being self-serving and over-patronizing, we are advocating genuine concern and empathy.
The financial rewards will follow as a matter of course. The vehicle to attain this can be either email, in person or any other form of contact you might have. Treat them all with the same dedication.