(By Alex Honeysett)

When you’re talking to clients in person, whether it’s during a one-on-one meeting or keynote speech in front of a packed audience, it’s not just about what you say—it’s about how you say it.

For a long time, when entrepreneurs asked me for the “secret sauce” of successful marketing, I’d say there isn’t one. Because I didn’t think there was just one magic solution—but rather, a combination of many components that each entrepreneur had to mix and match based on his or her passion, business, and community.

But after working with some amazing entrepreneurs and digging into some research around marketing and emotional connection, I realized that there really is one characteristic that divides the super-successful companies from the not-so-successful companies: The brands with the best marketing actually care about their clients.

Last week, I wrote about the top five most inspiring TED talks for entrepreneurs, including one by Gary Vaynerchuk called “Do What You Love, No Excuses.”

In the talk, Vaynerchuk nails this idea. He says, “Should you listen to your users? Absolutely. But giving a shit about your users is way better. People listen, but they don’t do anything. Doing something—answering those emails, giving a crap, caring about your user base—that’s what you need to do.“

What I’ve come to see, over and over again, is this: If you see your clients and prospects as dollar signs, rather than humans looking for a solution to a problem, none of the best practices, templates, or frameworks in the world are going to make your marketing successful. Those people are going to feel like an object instead of a human, and they’re going to go somewhere else to get their problem solved.

So, in practical terms, what does giving a crap about your community really mean?

1. Talk to Them Like Humans

Time to get rid of the jargon, corporate, we-sound-important-but-we’re-not-actually-saying-anything messaging. Traditional marketing often makes it seem like in order to be taken seriously and sound professional, you have to talk like wordy, corporate robots. But as a human, do you like reading that? Do you feel connected to it? Probably not—and your clients don’t either.

The best way to connect with them—to build a layer of trust—is to get on their level. The best work gets done when you get down, eye-to-eye, and say, “I’ve been there. I’ve looked for vacation homes and found them to be all too expensive,” or “I’ve tried to hail a cab in the city in the rain, and I’ve gotten soaked and frustrated.”

Essentially, you’re saying, “Look, I know how you feel, and I’ve found a solution.” That’s how you build a trusting client relationship.

2. Answer Everything

This is the hardest, but most rewarding, part. There’s plenty of emphasis on listening to your customers and community—but if you’re not responding to the things they’re saying, they won’t know you’re there.

That means you need to answer every email, reply to every tweet, and respond to every Facebook comment—and in a way that conveys you truly care about the humans who wrote them.

Whatever you do, don’t send a canned response. It’s the equivalent of calling a company to ask a question and getting that robot voice telling you to press one for English.

3. Pay Attention to Your Body Language

When you’re talking to clients in person, whether it’s during a one-on-one meeting or keynote speech in front of a packed audience, it’s not just about what you say—it’s about how you say it.

My best advice? Be aware of your body. You want to create a safe, comfortable, human-to-human experience for your community. So, keep your hands out of your pockets, don’t cross your arms, look people in the eyes, and, essentially, let your clients know you hear them and you care about them in whatever way feels the most genuine to you.

These are the tips I’ve learned within my own community, but remember: You know how to give a crap about your own community more than I—or anyone else—ever will. So, first and foremost, listen to your gut when it comes to showing your customers that you’ve been in their shoes and how much you care and want to help.

Alex Honeysett is Communications and Promotions Director at Channel One. She is an avid bookworm and an international communications and public relations expert.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”


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