We live in a 24/7 world -- companies and people are getting requests for more information at any hour. The expectation is that if we are to wait one minute more, we might decide to take our business, and connection, elsewhere.
Small aside -- have you noticed how impatient people are these days? I thought that Italians were aggressive drivers. I'm finding more and more people who stop at a light right on your rear bumper and literally push you forward as soon as the light is about to turn.
Not to speak of the impatience when you slow down to turn. Where is everyone going with such hurry? Are we harried because we might think we're missing something?
It occurred to me that the ability to have a private and confidential conversation is becoming increasingly precious. It's a moment stolen from the frenetic pace of the 24/7 world, and a special gift given to us.
I believe that the people and companies that will be able to balance their availability with their ability to keep a secret, to be trusted, will be winners.
People who know I blog have asked how I find inspiration for my posts. The question right behind that one is often -- will you blog about this conversation? I don't unless there is a specific understanding that we're talking about the subject for a post. I value my privacy and stay sensitive to the privacy of others. By and large, most of the bloggers I know honor this code.
We are often both friends/peers and bloggers/publishers at the same time. Is this another difference between social media and traditional media?
There are things off the record, exchanged among friends, that should not appear publicly. When you get to know the person first and appreciate his sensibilities you become a trusted ear. Err on the side of "private" when in doubt -- no trespassing is hard to do retroactively.
This is true for companies as well. In your marketing outreach -- especially as we venture in the delicate and personal world of mobile communications -- ask permission first and ask it each time. Never, ever, take your customers and prospects for granted.
This is what got them to turning you off in the first place. In fact, I believe the future is for those companies that learn to navigate the subtle line between commercial offer and respect of the preferred communications styles of the people they intend to reach.
This is the difference between talking at and connecting with -- connections are forged over time.
How do you demonstrate you are trustworthy? Begin by not pretending you're a friend when you're not, yet. Let the other person get to know you by experiencing how you're learning about them. Make sure that who you say you are, what you articulate about yourself, and how you show what you are align.
This lesson may be the hardest for organizations. There is much talk about authenticity these days and how we're to make an offer that feels authentic. I've been reading the new book by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, Authenticity -- What Consumers Really Want, and have come up to the chapter on identity as in corporate identity vs. brand. There's a subtle distinction, yet one worth noting:
Corporations, places, and offerings have actual identities (the selves to which they must be true to be perceived as authentic), not just articulations of those identities (the representations that must accurately reflect those selves to be perceived as authentic).
Authenticity in the end is quite subjective. As well, our perception that a person and a company respect our time and privacy may be unique to each person. Build the foundation first and you will fare much better in the long term. Can you keep a secret? If you can, the scoop you may think you have today may pale in comparison with the relationship you can have tomorrow.
Why does it matter? Think word of mouth -- the unbiased opinion is still the most trusted around the globe. As eMarketer published Word of Mouth Works Worldwide
"[...] marketers need to focus as much attention on what consumers say about their brands online as they do on creating the brand Web sites themselves," Ms. Williamson said. "The easiest thing to do is to make consumer feedback an essential part of every brand Web site."
Time and over again, people say they trust the opinion of a friend over any form of persuasion. Who do you call a friend?