The Human Element
Those in the business community that weren’t already online flocked there once lockdowns began. This means there’s an even bigger vacuum for your business to shout into, if you’ve not pinned down the fundamentals of your marketing. Even if you do have all your ducks in a row, there’s certainly a lot more competition in the digital world at this point in the pandemic.
As technology marches on and AI becomes a little smarter, more opportunities and techniques appear for marketers to incorporate. However, before you become blinded by the latest tech or the trendiest social media platform to join, don’t lose sight of the most important aspect of any marketing strategy.
How you talk to them, where you talk to them and when you talk to them are all secondary considerations.
That you talk to them at all is the most important thing to focus on.
Surely this is a given, you’re probably saying. Well, it’s not. The number of companies we see talking AT people in their promotional efforts is staggering.
Remember the human. Remember that humans have wants, needs and desires. Remember that they have problems that need solving, time that needs to be reclaimed, money to save, aspirations to chase, growth to enjoy. They have independent thoughts; they’re not just walking wallets.
Just as you may invest in new technologies, invest in psychologies. Learn about human behaviour. How has the pandemic altered customers’ beliefs? For example, the pandemic has seen some people become less materialistic. It has made them reassess what’s important to them and what they want from life—enough that they’ve changed jobs or moved home as a result. This is a seismic shift in terms of what customers want now—in terms of the products they buy, the services they demand and what they’d like from life.
Large brands pay thousands upon thousands to consumer behaviour experts each year, in a bid to understand more about what drives people to spend their money. This is the kind of intel that forms store layouts, such as supermarkets putting common items, such as milk and bread, far away from the entrance door, so that people have to walk past all their other products to get to them. This is so customers make unplanned purchases and the store enjoys greater profits. It’s also why the most expensive brands are displayed at eye level, as experts know that we rarely spend the time and energy to look above or below these items for cheaper alternatives with all the other things we have going on in our minds.
Whilst psychology is important here, small and medium-sized businesses don’t have the budget to bring in psychology professors or consumer gurus. There’s no doubt these people add an extra dimension to understanding human behaviour; however, the simplest thing any business can do is gain some objectivity about their company and walk through their customer sales journey from beginning to end, looking for areas that can be improved.
Right from the get-go…for example, where will your customers come across you? Why are they there—will they want to find out more about you when they learn of your existence? For instance, if you sell flavoured gin, introducing your brand to a group for tee-totallers won’t go down well. Yes, they’ll know about you, but they won’t like you—always remember the ‘know, like, trust’ mantra.
Then, once you’re in the right place, what do you say to your prospective customers? Is your tone condescending, dismissive, soulless or boring? Will they honestly want to know more about you?
Will they act on your advert/post straightaway, or are they likely to have objections or hurdles to overcome? Another common statistic in marketing is that a customer needs to ‘see’ you five to seven times before they make a purchase, so what do you say on that seventh occasion that’s different to your first communication? What could be stopping them from buying from you on the third occasion, for example? How do you stack up against your competition? Is your pricing spot on?
Another huge tip for small businesses is to carry out market research. When it comes to understanding human nature, the worst thing you can do is assume anything. Ask customers what they think about you, your product and your industry. Ask them again a few months later and keep asking them until you’re confident you’re nailing it. Even then, don’t stop asking for their feedback or opinion; just as we said above, the pandemic has changed so much for so many people, who knows what other outside influences and shared life experiences are waiting for us all around the corner?
Remember the human on the other side of the screen or till. Put them at the heart of your marketing and you won’t go far wrong.