Ever heard of the milk man? No, it’s not some millennial slang for a guy who always draws things out as long as possible. People used to open their door every few days to be greeted by the same friendly face and fresh milk. You knew exactly what you were getting, when you were getting it and who was going to make it happen.
It wasn’t all that isolated of a scenario. In the olden days, everybody had, “a guy for that”—car repairs, the tastiest pies, the kid’s first bike or formal dress. And there was one thing that made everybody’s “guy” their “guy”: trust. Whether it was word of mouth, bumping into them at the corner store or reading a heartwarming newspaper story (yes, just about everybody read these every day) about how a business person helped a customer, these kind of deeper engagements built trust and, for businesses, loyal customer bases.
To say the least, those days are fleeting. Everything from mobile wallets to single-click, even automated, ordering has dramatically simplified and expedited nearly every purchase process. You can buy a car and have it delivered to your door this week without engaging with another person, or even buy a tailored suit without ever seeing a tailor.
Convenient? No doubt. Easy? Sure. Here’s the thing: Building loyalty and trust through online shopping carts and automated chat platforms is all but impossible. If you want a loyal, evangelizing customer base, there must be trust. And nowadays, with everyone turning to the web, perhaps the most powerful tool for accomplishing that is the written word—or, in marketing speak, content.
The right topics
People are sold to constantly. At all costs, the content we create for clients is intended to educate, inform and relate. Product introductions or news certainly merits content, but educating a customer or prospect about how your product or service can help solve their challenges is even more effective. That said, giving customers valuable information to guide their purchase decisions, or general lifestyle advice (when applicable), can feel like a warm hug to a reader.
Automated phone systems, chat platforms and emails numb the brain. People crave being communicated to like a real human by another. Write this way. A light conversational style is one of the few ways left to give a company a voice … dare I say a heart and soul. Use conjunctions and get creative with punctuation (even forgoing the rules at times) if it preserves a friendly, easy-to-read style.
While the process of making a purchase is as easy as ever, the decision to spend hard-earned dollars can still be difficult. As a seller of wares or services, businesses should understand this as well as anyone. Let it shine through in writing. Laying out a relatable scenario to open a piece or a simple “we understand” goes a long way.
In the data driven world we live in it’s becoming easier and easier to lose sight of the fact that there are real people behind your charts and graphs. I’d argue that no other form of marketing can demonstrate respect better than content. A lot of this comes through in the empathy part, but being consistently and repeatedly honest and clear about pros and cons, your competition, the buying cycle and what happens next can be done very effectively through content.
In closing, there’s a not-so-indirect line from trust to the bottom line. From trust comes loyalty. From loyalty comes repeat business. From repeat business comes a lower total cost to acquire, referral business and a healthier bottom line. Take the time and care to write the right content in the right style and you’ll reap rewards.