Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Image courtesy of chrism
"Modern Communication" - Terry Allen

Do you only communicate with customers when you want something?

It's primary election season here in the States, and I was just reminded of California's impending primary election when I got our election booklet in the mail last week. Along with that, I also received several pieces of marketing ("vote for me") literature from some of the candidates in my district.

Well, you know how this works by now. That got me thinking...

Why do I not hear from these candidates any other time during their terms, until it's time for re-election. How am I supposed to know who you are and what you've done for me? Or what you do for your constituents, in general?

This isn't just a problem for politicians; companies are guilty, as well.

Is yours guilty of this? You only communicate when it relates to one of these four "guilty pleasures:"
  • It's time to renew a contract
  • It's time to get paid (invoice)
  • You want to sell something
  • You want something
How about communicating with your customers about other things, like:
  • Asking for their feedback so that you can genuinely improve their experience
  • Or better yet, listening and hearing what they say (communication is more than just talking)
  • Informing them what you've done with their feedback
  • Saying "thank you for your business"
  • Sharing news about what you're doing in and for the community
  • Creating a community for like-minded, like-purposed individuals
  • You get the drift - things not related to the four "guilty pleasures" above
Here's the rub, though. Don't communicate just to communicate. We all get enough spam in our inboxes and junk in our mailboxes. Make it meaningful communication. Customers can see through marketing messages disguised as good will communications.

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -Plato

And make sure you know your intended audience, i.e., tailor the message to me, to the things I care about. Oh, I guess that means you actually need to get to know me. That's another rule you need to adhere to in order to be viewed as genuine.

Don't force your customers to ask, "What have you done for me lately?" when you come around asking for things. This goes right to the heart of "value." When customers understand the value that you deliver, paying the bills and renewing those contracts become just a little easier.

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. -Dale Carnegie


  1. I used to work for myself Annette, and I always felt sleazy when I talked to customers because it was obvious I wanted to sell something. Then I realised that it was easier, more powerful and a lot less stressful just to listen to what they had to say.


    1. Good point, James. Listening is a powerful tool. Listening is a better selling tool than talking is, for sure.

  2. Annette,
    It's a continual challenge to try and remain 'interesting' whilst at the same time balancing being 'interested' and useful to our customers. Some companies do it well, many don't.


    1. I agree, Adrian. But what do those who don't do it well do about it?

  3. Lose friends and customers? Shrink? Be boring? Outsource? Wait for their customers to notice and pray that they don't?