OK, maybe not quite. But it’s a fantastic title for a blog. And I want you to remember some words from Elvis:
We can’t go on together, with suspicious minds
Let me ask you a question. A complete stranger comes up to you in the street. Interrupts you when you don’t want interrupting and says – about as insincerely as it’s possible to say it, “Hi! How are you today?”
Are you going to buy anything off that person? Of course you’re not. If anything you’re going to run in the opposite direction. Quite possibly muttering that ‘care in the community’ isn’t working as well as it should.
And yet companies do this all the time. They phone when you’re eating dinner; they phone when you’re reading to your kids. Someone who clearly doesn’t care whether you live or die says “Hi! How are you today?”
We don’t want to be sold to, and yet big business insists on trying to sell to us – and at the most inconvenient times. There’s a famous saying: “If you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Except you won’t. Not any more. You’ll get less – a lot less.
These days, if you want to sell to someone, you need to engage their emotion – not start off with a phrase that immediately makes them defensive.
And yet so many businesses are simply carrying their old model – ‘here’s our message whether you want it or not’ – over into the new age of social media. Because it’s called social “media”, too many bosses think it’s just another branch of advertising or print media. It isn’t. It’s radically different. “I’m wonderful. We’re wonderful. Beat a path to our door.” is no longer the message. “We’re human. What can we do to help?” That’s the message now.
I’ve been reading a book called The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk (who’s turned a simple wine store into a multi million dollar business with social media.) He makes an interesting point – that while the world has changed, human nature hasn’t. We still want to communicate with each other: communicating makes us happy. That’s why we painted on the walls of caves; that’s why printing caught on and that’s why Twitter and the rest of social media isn’t irrelevant nonsense.
In the old days, we lived in small towns – and everyone communicated. So if the butcher gave you meat that was off, pretty quickly everyone got to hear about it – and the butcher was in trouble. Vaynerchuk’s thesis is that the internet – and in particular social media – is turning the world into one great big small town, where relationships and service matter more and more. Suddenly everyone talks to everyone else again.
After all, how many times have you decided to follow someone on Twitter – only to find that half of dozen of your friends are already following them?
Here’s another fundamental. We deal with people we know, like and trust. Why is it that when I start to deal with someone new the first thing I want to do is read their blog? Because I want to know if I like them. And social media is playing an increasingly important part in ‘know, like and trust.’ A survey of parents in 2010 found that 30% had been influenced by social media in their “back to school” purchases. That’s a significant statistic.
Despite this, businesses continue to intrude on our lives with advertising messages we don’t want. It’s no wonder consumers have ‘suspicious minds.’ “Hi, how are you today?” directly translates as “I couldn’t care less if this is inconvenient. I want to sell you something.”
A business is only as strong as its customer relationships – and what those customers are saying about you will determine the future of your business. The world isn’t changing, it’s changed – and if your business is still following the old model, you need to change. And fast.
As the Guru himself said, “It’s now or never…”