Stories and the Personal Touch
Posted by Becky Carroll on February 23, 2007
My inspiration today comes from the Marketing Profs:Daily Fix blog. Two posts in particular caught my eye, and I saw them as related to each other. They are both about how being personal makes a huge impact on our emotions.
In the first, Andrea Learned shares how the Wall Street Journal is using stories in their new Journeys ad campaign. Andrea also shares three elements of the ad campaign that any brand could use as they look to connect with their customers: celebrities as regular people (hey, the NHL is doing that one, too!), simple but compelling design, and a feeling of being genuine. Andrea notes,
I have found it fascinating to observe as brands have started to mine their existing content, customer base, blogs, YouTube and employee files for new and interesting angles on their work, products or services.
I have also noticed that quite a few companies are mining their customers for stories lately. Not just the SuperBowl ads, but real customer stories to put in their own communications. Lands’ End has been doing it for years in their catalogs. Disney does it as part of their DisneyInsider e-newsletter to season passholders. ProFlowers recently started soliciting stories to include in their newsletters. Of course, one of the kings of customer stories is Jones Soda (thanks, Jordan!) with their customers sending in pictures that they put on the actual soda bottles in stores.
In the second related post today, Tim Jackson shares about his recent trip to Taiwan to visit with his factory and old, new, and potential vendor partners. He was impressed by the way these people showed him they cared about earning his business through personal interaction and relationship building. (I am sure it meant a lot to them, as well, that Tim made the long trip from California!) Tim says,
…all the money in the world thrown into expensive advertising can easily be defeated by “the personal touch.” Getting involved with your customers on a personal level will almost always yield positive results, especially if you take the time to listen to what they are saying to you and you learn what their needs are.
Tim has hit the nail on the head here. Showing customers you really care is gold. It can’t easily be faked, because, just like Fools Gold, you can always see it is just a little bit too shiny. Building business by building relationships may seem like the old-fashioned way of doing things to some, but perhaps it is the key that many are missing today. As Tim mentioned in the comments to his post (and I have mentioned before), the little things can make all the difference in cementing these relationships.
That is what is in common with these two posts. It is all about being personal. We are always fascinated with stories about the personal lives of others. And who doesn’t feel good after talking about themselves for awhile? One of the methods I learned many years ago for ensuring someone feels good about a conversation is to help them talk more about themselves. They walk away feeling like they were actually heard by someone else.
Many customers want to be treated personally and want to be heard. Social media is beginning to allow that conversation to take place. Now is the time, as marketers, we need to step in and get that conversation going. Let our customers talk about themselves for awhile. And to borrow a line from Tim, “It might not produce an immediate result, but it might just pay off in ways you never expected.”
I predict that those companies who are willing to invest in the conversation will find it pays off in the end.