Everything I know about marketing I learned from my kids.
At it’s most basic, honest level, building a relationship with your customers is all about doing the following things:
When my daughter was 5 years old she once quoted to me word for word an argument that my husband and I had had a few days ago. I was stunned. I didn’t know she had been listening and would remember so vividly. It impacted her. And since then I’ve learned to weigh my words in context when my kids are around.
As marketers we shouldn’t ever lose sight of the fact that our customers and the general public are always listening. Even if they don’t respond. That’s why it’s so important to set up listening posts to identify who may be listening. Sometimes, though, you may not even know who is listening or where they are. That’s because of Dark Social: that place on the Internet which the public doesn’t get to see. Dark social is private email exchanges, private chats and others forms of communication that are not open to the public. But just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you. So it’s even more imperative to remember that even if it feels like no one’s listening, someone may be! I like to remember this old adage about posting anything on the Internet:
“Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want plastered on the front page of the New York Times”.
One day, my kid broke down in tears because her homework was just too hard and she couldn’t figure it out. I tried all the regular methods of calming her and saying just focus, you got this, you can do this etc etc. That’s when my husband reminded me that I forgot the first step: validating her feelings. Before I can help her course correct, I need to acknowledge her feelings. Validation means saying “yes it is okay to feel this”. “Honey, I understand you’re feeling frustrated when you don’t know how to do something new. I feel the same way when I have a new project and I don’t know where to start”. Feelings are never right or wrong – they just are.
In marketing while managing communities and customers, especially when things go wrong, it’s never about playing the blame game. And I don’t believe in the “customer is always right” phenomenon either. So then what? I think that as soon as one person validates the other’s feelings, it opens up an atmosphere of dialogue. Just starting a sentence with “I understand” is huge. Don’t ruin it by saying “but”.
3. Building Trust
Every time I kept a promise to my daughters it would build their trust. Over time they came to see that their mom would do whatever it takes to keep her word. And the few times she couldn’t, things must be really hard and they would understand. It became easier for them to accept the times I said ” no” because they believed I would if I could. Trust takes small, incremental, regular, consistent actions to build. And can be destroyed in a single act.
Marketers need to be consistent in their messaging, tone and style. Otherwise you are just confusing your customer. The more value you put in the trust “bank”, the higher the payback. Just take Buffer for example. They spent years building up trust, so when they failed that one time, their customers not just forgave them but rallied around them.
4. Being Transparent
In our culture, kids are not encouraged to ask their parents’ age. I’ve never understood why. But when my daughter asked, I told her my exact age. Now, she remembers how old I am faster than I do. And she is proud of that fact. She is the timekeeper of the family’s birthdays, anniversaries and events. She feels secure in the knowledge that the family’s so-called “secrets” are safe with her.
Being transparent in your marketing is all about freedom. Never having to worry about what lie or version of truth you’ve told, never having to worry about what others will think. Oh the freedom!! Give your customers a behind-the-scenes, let them in on your back processes. Being transparent is also the precursor to being vulnerable. Since’s no one’s perfect anyway (and yes that goes for a brand’s image too), why pretend that you are? Why not give in to your imperfections? They are what will endear you to your audience anyway.
So yeah, that’s what I know about marketing. Ethical, honest, non-pushy marketing. The kind of marketing that makes you want to get to know a brand better. Basically, everything I learned while parenting.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes marketing great for you. When do you feel that you are being true to yourself as a marketer? Let’s chat about this :) Leave a comment below…