Consumer, Consumer, Where Art Thou?

by Lisbeth Calandrino - May 8th, 2013

Gone are the days when you could tell the customer what to read, think or buy. The customer has his/her ideas about everything including what and where to buy. They aren’t listening to us very much.

Case in point: many businesses are putting their newspaper ads on Facebook–you know the discount ads. When these are put on Facebook, they interrupt the customers dialog with their friends. If you want to know what to put on Facebook, look at what gets the most comments. Every time I see an advertisement I just skip over it. There seem to be so many bogus offers that I’m not into looking at any of them even if they look interesting.

The advertising channels are going through a reincarnation; it’s not that consumers don’t care what you sell, they’ve changed how they want to connect with you. The online marketing is about engagement and the traditional marketing is about ‘here we are’, look at us. The most important distinction is the customer and how they want to build their connections with businesses. Customers want to talk with each other about their lives, not about what products to buy. Are you surprised?

If they’re looking for a product they’ll ask their friends. Where I live we have an online conversation called ‘The Hudson Park List.’ People comment about local street problems, missing cats and ask for advice about contractors etc. This is the best place to look for an electrician or a plumber; it’s our own Angie’s List. It’s much better than looking through the classified sections.

Despite the fact that newspaper reading is down, magazine subscriptions are up and talk radio is is growing. I read that 40% of Americans now listen to audio on digital devices and it’s projected to double by 2015. I am one of those talk radio fans. I remember when I was very young, my parents listening to talk radio at night to fall asleep. Little did I know, that 50 years later I would be falling asleep to the same thing! With the advent of blog talk, there are more radio shows than ever. It seems that everyone has something to say and they want the world to hear it. My favorite is the repeats of Car Talk out of Boston.

It really is difficult to reach customers unless they want to be reached. In fact, the statistics are quite staggering.
◦200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on the FTC’s “Do not call list.”
◦86% of people skip the television ads.
◦91%of email users have oversubscribed from a company email that they previously opted into. This is important for us bloggers!
◦44% of direct mail is never opened.

The number of smart phones is staggering; 46% of consumers in this country have smart phones. Mobile networks are clogging up the airways. Emergency 911 numbers have not been allowing text messages up until recently. Several states have decided that texting should be allowed. Often times an accident victim can’t speak on their phone but might be able to text. Accident victims have been posting their help messages on Twitter and 911 was asking them to not do it. It was slowing down their response time. After Twitter, 911 still had to be called.

65% of people surveyed believe that social media is better than call centers. There was one case where a person had complained to UPS and couldn’t get any satisfaction. Instead of continuing to feel ignored, the customer wrote a note on Twitter. Apparently within 2 hours the problem was resolved .

The idea is to decide who are your customers and what are you trying to achieve with your marketing? Why not bring your video camera every time you step out of the house and see if there’s anything your customer might like to see. You might find something that would be useful for your newspaper ad or your social media.

How about taking your television commercial and put it on YouTube or your Facebook page? You may want to shorten it into several minute clips instead of one 5 minute clips. When your taping your television clip, think about how you might use it on social media.

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through customer service training and social media. She can be reached for training or speaking at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. Her book, Red Hot Customer Service can be purchased on her web site, www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

Lisbeth Calandrino
Fabulous Floors
Associate Publisher & Director of Consumer Research
lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com

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