I replied to a routine client email today and just for fun I signed off with “Rainy in Kelowna, arghhhhh!” I didn’t think much of it, but in the bottom of their reply they wrote:
“PS rainy here too – sad to see summer go”
No biggie, but somehow I felt a little closer to them.
Here’s what I’m thinking: people want to work with people. I know that’s basic, but stay with me.
We’ve grown up with faceless corporate mass marketing that treats us like autotrons. The promises of “whiter whites”, “finger licking good” and “the real thing” are pounded into our psyche. Automated phone systems, email auto responders, and robotic greeting from Walmart staff are efficient but impersonal. We know there are real people behind it all, but they are far too busy to chat with us peons.
And then along come companies like Zappos and Westjet that make real people available (plus automation if it’s easier for the customer) to answer all my questions and add the occasional good humor. BTW our friends at infusionsoft do this in spades.
In my business, clients are hiring me, not Marathon Communications or Experts’ Enterprise, me. And the more they connect with me, know me and like me the better. So let a little personality in.
Here’s what you can do.
Lighten up. I know you need to send that email about your invoice or A/V needs, but please don’t sound demanding or officious. That 10:00 AM conference call with the planning committee is super important, but don’t blow it by being uptight. Let then know you are excited, listen, don’t interrupt, and, when it’s your turn, show some personality. Here are some examples:
** Chris Brogan (Human Business Way) starts some of his Sunday emails by sharing what new, strange tea he is drinking at the time.
** Pat Flynn (Smart Passive Income) often shares what he’s learning from his children, or his new-found love for public speaking.
** Natalie Sisson (Suitcase Entrepreneur) starts her podcasts telling readers where she is living at the time and what she is working on in her business.
** Andrew Warner (Mixergy) will often share in a podcast some frustrations he has in his business, or what he wants to get better at as an interviewer.
Be original. I recently read a 17 page pdf from start-up marketing expert Pete Williams that was handwritten (when was the last time someone sent you a hand written article with hand-drawn illustrations?). It was so unusual I read it right away, instead of saving it to read later, as is my habit.
Be generous with your personal one-on-one communications. Reach out to colleagues, clients, and prospects and let them know you are thinking of them (kind of like this email). My friend David Wood told me he often fires off a fun text to colleagues, or people he has interviewed on his podcast Kick Ass Life, just to let then know he’s thinking of them. Not asking for anything, just touching base.
Outsourcing expert, Chris Ducker calls this P2P (People To People) business, as opposed to B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). I like that.
I’m in the people business, so are you. Let’s make sure our customers know that.
Be your best,