As PR, branding, and engagement professionals, we see it as our jobs to “maximize engagement” and help our clients start and maintain conversations and relationships with their customers. So it’s tempting to base success on the quantity of those efforts sometimes. How MANY connections, and is it more than last month? How MUCH content publishing, and is it enough to keep our clients “top of mind?” Marketers are rewarded (or fired) based on the ROI of their efforts and the increased sales they generate through them. So more relationships are always better, right?
Well, according to this excellent article in The Harvard Business Review, not so much. Their research has uncovered a few myths about how customers really interact with their favorite brands, mainly that people really DON’T hold brands in as high esteem as they do friends and family members–in fact, only 23% in the study said they had a relationship with a brand. So don’t attach unrealistic expectations to those other 77%. They aren’t interested in connecting at that level.
Secondly, interaction does not build relationships–shared values do. So no matter how often you’re communicating with a customer who doesn’t share your philosophy, you’ve wasted a lot of time and effort. Find the customers who share your values and make sure they are satisfied with every aspect of what you do. Be authentic. Of the consumers in the HBR study who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason.
Third, frequency of contact doesn’t really enhance these relationships. Treat EACH interaction as precious. Ask yourself–does this email make my customer glad they know about us? Are we providing value in every post? Are we providing useful, actionable information or joy? If so, then five or ten really well-timed communications can have far more power than 300 canned marketing speeches. The last thing you want to do is overload them with more of what we all claim we’re trying to avoid–NOISE.
Treat your customers they way you would like to be treated, and focus on those customers who share your values. Somehow that seems so simple.