Being Present And The Everyday Boomerang
Whatever content you create and distribute, you have to stand next to it.
This article has its roots in being present.
To create a dialogue there needs to be two people involved. Much like every river has a source where it begins its journey from a spring or lake.
To take responsibility a person has to be present to make a connection.
I subscribe to a fortnightly email from a local company. This is because the person who puts their name behind it is someone I know in a business capacity. They have a clear and concise point of view. Every article is always signed off from him to give that stamp of original thought.
Towards the end of last month (Friday 24th June) an article was emailed that related to the Referendum and what this means for the rest of 2016. It was a well thought out piece that looked at the economy, social and political intricacies. What was even more impressive was the article was published within 24 hours of the result.
Rather than reading and moving on, I stopped, hit the email reply button to acknowledge that it was a good read. Not looking for a response, it was a ‘keep up the good work, I read the emails,’ nod of the head from me to him.
This was the response I received.
The automated response was not from the person who sent the email but another team member who was on her holiday (we’d also switched gender). The email reply was from everyone’s most loyal employee, info@
What this meant was if my email had reached its intended destination, it would have to wait a further three days. If this was a new subscriber looking to build something deeper in terms of becoming a potential customer, the lights were off until a stranger read it and then sent on to the person who put their name behind the article.
If I was a person coming forward in the early stage of a relationship, I was being ignored.
The point I am trying to highlight is that email has to be seen as a platform to leverage communication and community, not a closed space to dictate self-absorbed opinion.
To be seen as having a point of view, you have to be present and even if the info@ becomes a stopgap to lean on; it shouldn’t become the graveyard of interaction.
If you are going to build an audience where people come to trust you, you need to be a part of the ongoing conversation. Email is the digital equivalent to seeing the whites of someone’s eyes ie. it is a channel that represents who you are.
If someone has agreed to receive ongoing communication at least make it two-way. If it is someone whom you are not familiar with but they have imparted their email address, it is an ideal way to get to know them better and to relate to you.
In the words of Mark Zuckerburg, “The question isn’t, ‘What do we want to know about people,’ it’s ‘what do people want to tell us about themselves?’”
Forrester Research (alongside executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles) have recently (July 2016) produced a report titled, ‘The Evolved CMO’ (Chief Marketing Officer).
The report highlighted that marketers are taking responsibility to understand customers and championing the role to understand retention not just customer acquisition. The global report consulted 275 CMOs during Q4 in 2015.
Two thirds of CMOs now have a responsibility for the customer experience where 44% would like to grow their influence in this area.
This is the role that businesses need to bring to the table to share knowledge, insight and industry expertise to win over customers. Not to keep at an arms length, ‘I talk, you listen,’ hierarchy.
The CMO of 2016 is now taking the role to be present.
Four Ways To Feel Your Presence
So, what can you do to ensure that what you share is the business boomerang. Not just being present but also inviting others to interact and they will know you’ll be there.
- You Truly Can Be Bothered – nothing should be unattended, if an automated response acknowledges a ‘thanks, we’ll get back to you soon.’ If you are unsure if the email is from a real person, or not, use email-checker to make sure that an email address really exists. Leave your email address, not a desolate in-box address.
- You Prep Others – content creation has to be focused on what someone else will take from it, not you laying down your own law. If someone takes value, they are more likely to approach. If you can create something that connects with someone else they are also far likely to share. The 2016 study from the Journal Of Consumer Research highlighted that when people find content (not sent by someone else) they associate the content with themselves. Read the what your audience wants article.
- Tell A More Compelling Story – linked to giving others better value (above), you need to find the role that you play within your marketplace to say something that stands alone from the rest of your industry. This is similar to what The Chromologist is doing from Farrow & Ball, by taking a stance to document the use of colour, not just the application of paint. This all comes down to connection via emotion. This leads a better way for someone else to make that step in your direction.
- Feedback Is Encouraged – it can be hard to open up for feedback, but being present means being honest with yourself and others. It’s how we get better at what we do. If people are going to interact, they want the full view of your business. According to Econsultancy, 61% of customers read online reviews before making any decision.
The common denominator that links all four points is the requirement to be present when you start serving a defined community.
Lets Round Up
It doesn’t matter who you are or how thick skinned you claim to be, to be ignored is a lonely place to be.
I’m not talking about those who enter your space to waste your time for a free website review or a relative stranger to request a LinkedIn recommendation. I mean those who have gone out of their way to subscribe, impart, contact, interact and respond when there is a link between what you stand for and their mindset.
When people come to the spaces that are yours you want them to open up and in return you to be real.
When the Gotham City Police Department send out the Bat signal, they don’t expect an out of office reply from Alfred the butler.
To have the ability to create, curate and publish within the spaces that are yours to build audience and association is a privilege that we have never had before. When you have the ability to create a reaction in someone else via the content you deliver, the first thing you have to do is stand by what you put your name next to.