A new book written by Kevin Lund entitled “Conversation Marketing: How to be Relevant and Engage Your Customer by Speaking Human,” reveals how companies can “Make and maintain more meaningful, impactful and enduring connections within the marketplace, tell an authentic story, foster maximized customer engagement and breed brand loyalty.”
Nobody starts out automatically caring about your products or services. They care about how you can make a difference in their lives. No matter the context, all relationships begin with a “handshake moment”, whether literally or figuratively — those first few introductory moments that reveal a great deal about the character of the person standing before you. Why should company interactions with current and prospective customers, or clients, be any different?
So, how can brands make and maintain meaningful connections with and create a lifetime value for customers in ways that’ll set them apart in a noisy, increasingly jaded and discriminating marketplace? How can businesses tell an authentic story so as to foster maximized marketplace engagement and breed brand loyalty? According to Lund, the proverbial key to the kingdom is for companies, no matter their size and scope, to simply “speak human”.
In this new book, Lund, CEO of T3 Custom — a content marketing firm helping brands learn to speak human and supercharge ROI, provides an in-depth analysis of what’s required to succeed in today’s modern marketing era.
Below are eight of Lund’s tactical strategies that can help companies large and small become more engaging and relevant with customers and the marketplace at large:
1. Earn Attention
To gain attention in today’s crowded marketplace, it’s prudent to do the opposite of what almost everyone else is doing. That means don’t deliver clichéd, boring content written for robots — search engines or otherwise. It’s unsustainable for you and your brand, as well as frustratingly futile for the audience you’re trying to reach. Instead, speak human by engaging your audience with eye-level language to gain their attention and set apart your brand. Learn to use language that educates and entertains the audience. Assume you’re meeting the person on the other side of the screen for the first time. Think of what you can say that’s new, memorable, stands out and is jargon-free. Also, understand and adapt to your audience. You wouldn’t talk the same way to a baby boomer as you would to a teenager.
2. Tell a Story
How do you hold someone’s attention long enough to break down a topic and engender his or her trust, but also in a way that’s unforgettable and leaves that person feeling more knowledgeable? The answer lies in good storytelling. Good conversations are filled with good stories and anecdotes. But be mindful that the hero of the story isn’t your company or its products, but rather how your product or service will have a positive impact in your customers’ lives.
3. Stay Humble
Being humble begins with letting go of ego — that instinctual part of the psyche that screams for a marketer to make too much noise about products or services and brag about themselves. In conversation marketing, speaking human dictates that your customer’s needs, not your own, are top priority. Your audience wants to know what you can do for them, and that means stop talking about yourself. Instead, embrace a different approach that thoughtfully and humbly explains why you do what you do and why it can make a difference in someone’s life instead of focusing on your bottom line. Tell stories that inspire and resonate with their life experiences.
4. Pick Your Party
Equally important to the how of your conversation is the where. It should all fit seamlessly and feel natural and organic. Part of learning how to talk to your audience and engage them in any form of conversation is deciding where to talk to them. This means doing the footwork to learn where your potential customers gather and meeting them on their own ground. Where do your potential customers hang out on social media? What are they saying, and what challenges are they discussing? Easily available research tools can help you consistently join the right conversation at the right time and in the right place.
5. Be Relevant (on a Molecular Level)
True listening is about far more than hearing words. It’s also about fully understanding the message and concepts being imparted — whether they’re needs, wants, desires or even complaints. Being relevant means making sure you’re talking about topics that are of interest to your audience, and that’s often achieved by addressing their pain points. It can be dangerous, expensive and ultimately futile for companies to presume to inherently know what should be said in conversation marketing.
6. Start the Conversation
How do you gain audience attention in a way that prevents you from just being part of the noise? It’s no longer a question of whether you should insert yourself into the world of content marketing. It’s a matter of when you’re going to start talking, what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. One good approach is to base that initial conversation on your unique value proposition for the given audience. It’s important to always remember that your target audience doesn’t care about you. They care what you can do for them. If you’ve done your research, you’ll be familiar with their pain points and better prepared to offer answers that address their needs. Don’t be a “me-too” marketer who dishes out the same information as everyone else. Instead, develop a unique angle with a thought-provoking headline that sparks attention — even better if it disrupts conventional thinking.
7. Stop Talking
Unlike a monologue, a conversation is a two-way endeavor. Knowing when to stop talking is as important as knowing what to say and when to say it. Once you hear preliminary reaction, you can respond to questions and concerns before moving ahead or otherwise course-correct as needed. Once your message is out, take a step back and read the room. Don’t consider a negative response or lack of response necessarily a failure. Instead, see it as an opportunity to adjust, make changes and, perhaps, find ways to better meet your audience’s needs.
8. Ditch the Checklist
Before every takeoff, airline crews work through an extensive checklist. There’s a detailed set of tasks to cover before the plane can even push back from the gate. However, in an ebb and flow conversation marketing context, this adherence to a certain protocol can pose limitations. Indeed, one problem with simply sticking to a checklist is that a content marketing strategy will never evolve with the times or differentiate itself in any way from what everyone else is doing.
Lund also suggests finding sources of inspiration. “Explore some of the successful content marketing plans that showed passion, ditched the tired old language, zeroed in on what customers needed and started a real conversation with the market,” he urges. “Then, scrutinize your own strategy and see where it might be lacking, so that you can continually refine your own checklist.” C&IT