Smart Gray Matter

Digital Marketing Solutions

The Power Of Voice

This story is for every human being everywhere who finds themselves in a capitalist society.  To begin, I’m your average US consumer.  Each new day I’m buried under the veritable deluge of advertisements and marketing campaigns constantly being devised by the gluttonous corporations who compete for our hard-earned cash.  Go ahead, take a look around.  I don’t care where you are(short of Alcatraz), chances are you are being marketed to this very instant.  On television, billboards, the radio, twitter, Facebook, and the list goes on.  After the dust settles at the end of the day, it is the company that has the largest advertising budget, not always the one with fantastic customer service, or even a superior product which stays branded in your mind.

That’s right, whoever has enough capital to buy their way into your head has the power to create an illusion containing whatever they can possibly dream up.  We’ve all been manipulated in one way or another by the countless merchants shouting for our attention. Wanting us to purchase this brand, that product, and of course the service to encompass the purchase.  This is the way it has always been.  But wait a second, do you hear that?  The ever so faint soft rustling in the leaves?  Those my friends are the winds of change.  It is no longer enough just to engulf your customers in one sided, repetitious jargon.  You must revert to the most simple of concepts.  Ah…but this is where it gets interesting.  Let’s think about the way capitalism began in it’s most basic form.  First, consider the United States for a second.  Imagine the story of the pioneers that helped carve an existence out of unscathed, unbridled nature in all it’s ferocious glory.  As the village sprang up so did a need for local commerce.  Supply Vs. Demand aka Economy 101.  What happens when your horse needs new shoes?  How on earth are you going to work plowing fields if your clothing falls apart?  Who do you visit when your mining pick shatters and you need a new one?

How did that work exactly?  Of course we know initially there wasn’t much competition.  In fact, I’m certain that those professions represented at Plymouth Rock were fairly secure in the local economy for at least the first few decades lol.  Yet, as time went by, perhaps John Smith(yeah I know) from two farms over decides he can make shoes better and so on.  Of course we all know what the future held at this point.  Essentially the reason I’ve asked you to relive history is to jog your thought process.  What was daily business like for individuals in a local, close-knit economy?  If there were 3 butchers available in your village/town which one did you choose?  If there were two barber shops who was the lucky, enterprising chap who collected your change in exchange for his expertise with a razor?  A sales/business transaction always begins with building rapport correct?  How do you suppose that was accomplished back in the 1700s?  It definitely wasn’t provided courtesy of a large television budget.  It certainly didn’t come from market saturation with campaigns dreamed up by the best advertising agencies money can buy.  The holy grail of business, the “customer’s loyalty” was achieved the old fashioned way.  That’s right, it magically occurred through conversation, and engagement.

While there are many steps to becoming a successful entrepreneur; I’m on a mission to isolate one vital attribute of the quaint little marketplace that eventually spawned the age of industry.  When a gold prospector on the west coast needed supplies did he grab a copy of the yellow pages and dial an 1-800 number?  Did he whip out his smart phone and google the nearest supply shack?  Maybe he asked Siri?  This seems ludicrous but hang with me.  The point I was hoping you would take away is all business was facilitated via face-to-face interaction.  If I close my eyes and fire up the old imagination I can almost picture a whisper of conversation long past going something like this….

“Hey Jack!”  With dust in his eyes, and hair that looked as if it had never stayed in place a day in his life, the cattle rancher launched his riding gear onto a nearby stool, slamming the door behind him.

“Howdy Bill!  What brings you into today?  Wiping down a shelf behind the counter, the owner turned from the task at hand.  I heard from your sister-in-law your wife wasn’t feeling well.  I sure hope she is gonna be ok.  Just know our prayers will be with you.  Oh, and my daughter Susan told me how well your boy William did in his recital last week.  I’m proud of him; he sure is growin up quick!”

I could continue, yet I’m hoping this tidbit of typical small talk will suffice.  Back to the mysterious subject at hand.  Let’s say Bill happens to know that Jack’s Supplies isn’t the only goods depot available.  A new one just opened up on the other side of the stockyards.  What brought Bill back into Jack’s store as opposed to his competition’s?  If you said “the relationship” then you are absolutely right.  It is a positive experience with a business that creates loyal customers.  No revelations there right?  It seems the rabbit in the hat becomes an obstacle when we look at how to better our skills at creating these positive experiences.  Shockingly, it all boils down to caring about your customers.  LoL, real mind-blowing huh?  Here is the conundrum, corporations DO NOT get it.  They don’t understand that among many other things, social media has blossomed because people are tired of being looked at as a number, or just another figure on a revenue spreadsheet.  They desire to engage, interact, and converse with the brands they love, buy, and support.

Undoubtedly there are people reading this right now saying, “Steven this is so basic it is elementary.  You are only embarrassing yourself with this post.”  While the idea that “positive experiences create sustained success” should be inherent to all sales professionals/businesses, problem is, we are all chasing the elusive dream of creating positive experiences for every customer every time that we forget it all begins on a very personal level.  What I mean is this, Jack has a PERSONAL relationship with Bill.  He knows his family, is connected in his community, and is even well informed/involved/current enough to be interested in his wife’s health.  While the art of creating a positive experience isn’t rocket science it does have to be executed in a certain way.  People buy from people they like, people they trust, people they feel a PERSONAL connection to.  Is it any different with businesses?  How do we build a personal relationship?  It is quite simple really, communicate.  Start conversations, comment on a post, retweet your consumers, etc.  Many businesses have embraced social media, created avatars, and have been huddling in a corner ever since afraid to make one peep!  God forbid you get a customer complaining with an issue!  Thus all the conversation is one sided.  Good luck with that.

As a business in our postmodern, high-tech society you will reap tremendous benefits if you remember to establish a PERSONAL relationship with your potential client before anything else.  Let’s say that years pass, and Bill continues to purchase from Jack even though now there are 5 similar businesses in town.  Now, Bill could get his sacks of flower and sugar from another supplies depot for 3 cents less, and knows this, but he doesn’t.  Why?  Because he feels comfortable in his relationship with Jack.  He knows Jack is genuinely interested in him as a person and not just as a meal ticket.  Heck, Bill can even remember Jack donating to help rebuild his barn when the storm washed it out a few years back.  Are you getting it?  Insurance agents should definitely understand where I’m coming from as follow up is critical in their line of work.

Perhaps at this point you are saying, “That’s great Steven, but our culture is different now.  It would have been much easier to construct and maintain personal relationships much easier when the largest venue in town was the saloon.”  Wrong.  The serene, sleepy, local marketplace has returned, and you have a choice to get involved, or miss the opportunity to create genuine, lasting, PERSONAL relationships with millions of potential customers.  Of course you know I’m referring to social media.  What an opportunity?!!  With the saturation of social media in our culture you are given the chance to really connect with customers instantaneously, no matter where they are on the planet.  With carefully selected campaigns and organic interaction you will amass an army of faithful customers who have a PERSONAL relationship/connection with you or your brand. To tweet, or not to tweet.  Now you know the answer.

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One comment on “The Power Of Voice

  1. Smart Gray Matter
    February 16, 2012

    Reblogged this on Smart Gray Matter and commented:

    Check out this week’s blog post from #SmartGrayMatter!

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