You have a communication problem and your brand is suffering because of it.
You speak the language of efficiency and scarcity, your customers think in terms of collaboration and story - most likely their story/experience with you and other providers. You hear what they say as a problem, when you could be listening for the opportunity it comes with.
In many cases all of the ingredients are there, they just need a different mix. Or you may need to open up the kimono, let your customers tell stories about you - your brand as open-source API for the meaning they are looking for. Think of the alternative - if nobody is talking about you, do you really exist? Are you top of mind? And if they're saying negative things, join the conversation, show them you can and do pay attention.
In my experience, every human interaction is about two things:
- do you care?
- can I trust you?
Does your language - what you say and what you do - communicate the answers to those two questions? This is especially important in this time of reevaluation of our priorities inspired by the larger context - the economic crisis with the fast approaching holiday season. Peter Drucker wrote it a long time ago: "organizations are no longer built on force, but on trust." So are markets.
Different times call for different measures. Want to see different results? Today at Fast Company expert blog we talk about how to talk with customers differently.
I was talking with Michael Leis about the commotion that a Motrin ad generated recently and we were in agreement that only part of it may have been because of the ad itself. Motrin, we do feel your pain. Remember that with social media at work, with the fact that interactions are from human to human, there is a much larger consideration to your initiative - that of the context in which it plays.
Things are downright rough at the moment. People are despairing about jobs, and the fast approaching holiday season is bringing a greater amount of stress into the equation.
The Motrin ad became the catalyst for these sentiments, the social object for people to come together and talk about how badly they felt. America at the moment has indeed lost its sense of humor.
I believe that the ad and the uproar that it generated offer a real opportunity for J&J, the makers of Motrin, to have a different conversation with customers. Not as a program, not as part of a campaign, not as a momentary patch - as an ongoing part of doing business.
The lines between marketing, public relations, and naked conversations have been blurring for years - whether we admit it or not. Mastering this new environment takes learning to talk with customers differently.
It's not us vs. them anymore, it's people on both sides of the conversations trying to figure out two simple things: Do you care? Can I trust you? Organizations may want to consider tactical transparency as part of their learning curve.
What's done is done. Now, I'd like to know what suggestions do you have for J&J and all those other companies that are beginning to grapple with social media in the context of today's larger story and conversation. What would you do inside such a company?