Guest Post: 21st Century Business

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21st Century Business – Humanizing Wins

One of the biggest trends among 21st century consumers is the need for personal connections with the brands they choose to do business with. This has been the direct result of the rise of the millennial consumer – a consumer who is demanding much more from businesses than just good products and services.

And businesses must take heed. Here’s why:

  1. Millennials spend $600 billion a year
  2. 54% of millennial purchasing occurs online, and much of that by mobile devices
  3. Millennials are the most brand loyal of any generation before it.
  4. Loyalty is based upon a personal relationship with a brand and the knowledge that the company behind that brand is socially responsible.

All of this points to the need for businesses to promote their “human” side and to have human and emotional connections with their customers.

So, how does a business do this? Here are 7 key strategies.

  1. Reach Out to Customers

When a customer makes a purchase, it is now critical to respond with a “thank-you” and a request for feedback on that customer’s experience with their purchasing experience and with the product or service. Perhaps offer a discount on a future purchase. The key is not to harass a that reaching out.

Develop loyalty programs, and use a POS system that provides apps for loyalty/rewards as well as customer emailing.

  1. Segment Mailing Lists

You have customers at all stages of purchasing. You have those who have purchased within the past month or so; you have those who have not purchased in the past three months; you have those who purchased long ago and then seemed to have “dropped off the planet;” and you have those who have visited, looked around and who have not made a purchase at all. Then there are those who are a part of your target demographic but who have never visited your site.

Sending all of them the same email announcing a special sale or a new product doesn’t make sense. Each group of these customers and potential customers should be receiving different emails with different content. And, if you have an email list, you must continue to segment it for personalization.

Get an email marketing tool that will segment your groups and that will also personalize by name. Identify what each group will find valuable and craft emails based upon those value propositions.

  1. Promote Interactivity Via Social Media

You have certainly developed a customer persona. If you have, then you have hopefully researched where that customer hangs out on social media. That’s where you need to be, not to sell, but to engage – to entertain, to educate, and to inspire. Social media is the place for connections and developing relationships, not a place to engage in direct sales. In fact, if consumers get the feeling that you are only there to sell, they will dump you quite quickly.

Ask yourself a few questions: What kind of humor does my customer demographic appreciate? What will inspire my customer? What do my customers want to know about me and/or my team and how can I personalize us to them? How can I engage my customer into some interaction with me?

The answers will vary, but using appropriate humor will be appreciated. Many businesses have a joke or an inspirational quote of the day – once customers and potential customers see these things, they will “tune in” to get your next joke or quote.

You can run surveys based upon issues that are important to your demographic. You can hold contests that will engage them.

Two examples of companies that have gotten this right are ModCloth and Foundr Magazine. Check out ModCloth’s Facebook and Foundr’s Twitter feeds to understand how this is done.

  1. Get a Cause/Demonstrate Social Responsibility

If you can show that you are environmentally conscious with “green” production, avoidance of harmful chemicals or animal testing, you will have followers who will spread your brand for you, certainly among millennials.

More important, what are you doing to improve the lives of others in some way? Are you participating in or sponsoring charitable events? Are you supporting a cause with some of your revenue?

One of the newest trends in this area is a “one-for-one” model. Toms Shoes uses this to supply underprivileged kids with shoes, provide eyewear to the poor all over the world, and to give prenatal care and support clean water projects. Every customer purchase results in this type of help. Headbands of Hope provides a headband and a donation to children’s cancer research for every headband purchased by a customer.

People have an emotional need to do good. When they believe that their purchase does good, they will be loyal to that brand.

  1. Show Consideration to ESL Audiences

The world is a much smaller place. And you will attract ESL customers in your own country as well as customers in other countries. What are you doing to honor them and their cultures?

If you have a significant ESL population that provides a solid demographic, then your website should have a version in their language. Your social media accounts should have foreign language versions.

Get a good translation service to accomplish this for you. Pick Writers is a site that can lead you to the top translations services who can provide what is known as “localization” that will not only translate but honor the cultural values of the demographic.

  1. Monitor Conversations

One mistake that businesses make is that they do not find out what people are saying about them online. If customers have issues or complaints that they haven’t expressed to you, they may be expressing those online, in a lot of places. And your reputation will take a terrible hit if these go unanswered by you.

Get a social monitoring tool that will comb the web and alert you when your brand is mentioned. Access that place, see what is being said, and, if it is negative, provide a public response that will resolve that issue for that customer.

Ask for feedback on your social media pages and on your website. Give customers with issues a platform to express them to you directly, so that you can resolve them.

  1. Humanize Yourself and Your Team

Put a face on your business. Put the faces of your team on your business. Your website, your blog, and your social media platforms should have space to feature personal stuff about you and your employees. People really do want a personal and emotional connection with you – as much as they want a good product or service.

The Internet is a noisy and competitive place. Consumers don’t want “hard sells” They want great experiences with brands the patronize. Be the business that gives them those experiences.


About the author: 

Dina Indelicato is a blogger enthusiast and freelance writer. She is always open to research about new topics and gain new experiences to share with her readers.

You can find her on Twitter @DinaIndelicato and Facebook.