Take a moment to ponder the connotative impact of these terms: Customer Experience, Target Audience, and Marketing. Great, now let’s look at each and consider its distasteful overtone, why the concept is vital for your business, and how re-thinking it can revitalize your marketing strategy.
Once cyberspace became an even playing field in the early 2000’s, customer experience became one of the most influential indicators for a successful brand. It was the difference between a loyal customer and a customer that no matter how much they liked you and perhaps how competitive your prices were, they were seduced elsewhere. They headed off to your competitor decked out with a beautiful, easy to navigate web presence that had a quick chat feature and oh! Is that a personalized promo code on my birthday?
However, this term separates the consumer from the seller. Let’s try on another term: human experience. Ahh, much better. As the purveyor of their experience, you must first be the customer, and in turn we find ourselves together in all of this (a theme for 2020). You must feel their pain, frustration and desire to shop or seek services with ease, delight, and maybe even full-blown enjoyment.
Chewy, aka Amazon for Pets, demonstrated the art of small joys after they sent me the wrong item. I logged into my account, opened up the chat window and blandly began explaining my issue. The (human) agent helped me, and the experience was easy. But that wasn’t what made this moment memorable. Every response included a pun: “Purrfect, thanks!” or “Fur sure, I can help!”. It made me giggle. When was the last time that happened when I tried to return an item?
You get the picture – be human and think about how your expectations could be delightfully interrupted – then do that to your customers. Use your empathy strategically, and consider the customer experience you deliver through that lens.
Target Audience – how dull! Need I really say more?
A few years ago I attended a workshop on Design Thinking, in which they demonstrated the power of being specific about your target audience. We were asked to design a meal solution for busy people. The ideas floating around the room were fine. Nothing more.
We were then placed in small groups and each group was told to fabricate a person and specify their name, sketch their portrait, and briefly describe their profession, personal interests, feelings and other idiosyncratic details. My group brought to life Vanessa, a single 35-year old mother whose daughter was in daycare while she worked as a lawyer. She was overwhelmed juggling work and home life. She strived to pursue a life of wellness, but found her eating schedule was erratic. She wanted to be a good role model for her daughter, and was seeking sustainable solutions.
The ideas that we developed were phenomenal. We each impersonated Vanessa – at one point we stopped talking about her, and we spoke as her.
This goes back to that empathy that drives so much of why we even provide the services and products we offer. Consider the mindset your Vanessa must adopt to be in the buying window, and get specific so that your ideas have an anchor point. You may well find Vanessa’s solution so happens to apply to a large number of people all interested in your business, albeit for different reasons.
What comes to mind when you think of Marketing? Honestly, even though it’s the meat of my career, this word still gives me the crawlies. I think of annoying pop-up ads, tricked-ya sponsored articles, and what-ya-gonna-do-about-it videos playing before my favorite song on Youtube. I think of pests.
When I feel dirty marketing my own business, I regroup and think about my business as a great party nobody should be missing out on. When I use a post, email, postcard or advertisement to get the message out, what I’m really doing is inviting people to join the party.
Have you ever felt gross sending out an invitation for your backyard BBQ? Probably not unless you’re excluding Duncan because he caused serious drama last time. When you’re excited about the message, it impacts both the content quality and your willingness to be consistent.
One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is “I hate ads, why would I want to impose that on anyone else?” You don’t just hate ads. You hate irrelevant, invasive ads. And there are many other alternatives. For example, some of my favorite products I learned about through direct mail, instagram posts and billboards. They worked because I was already passively interested, and they made the product (or party) available to me.
There are funny, inspirational and disturbing ads that we share with friends and family without thinking about it, inadvertently marketing for other businesses. That shareable content only comes when the marketer thoughtfully considered the impact on the viewer.
When your business feels separate from your customers, it probably is. Ask yourself these 5 questions to help re-energize your tactics and address inevitable marketing frustrations:
- What are my current customers experiencing and how can I improve that?
- What am I experiencing as a consumer in the world and how can I integrate what I like into my business?
- Who is my Vanessa and what does she do/feel/want?
- How do I engage emotions such as excitement, anxiety or delight in my messaging?
- What holds me back from inviting the world to my business?