Connecting with customers online

The most effective way to connect better with potential customers online is to provide a solution to a problem that they have in their real world. Another way is to simply speak in a voice and tone that feels relatable to them. Finally, ask them to tell you what they like, dislike and find interesting.

Solving a problem. Providing an answer.

The number 1 way to connect with a new customer is to answer a burning question they have. This could be in the form of providing a solution to a problem they have. Perhaps there’s a power outage in the middle of the night, requiring an electrician to do an emergency call out. Or it could be providing an actual answer to an acutal question being asked, such as, “What time is high tide in Port Douglas today?”

To understand the importance of this method of connecting with customers, you need to understand the emotional steps that someone goes through to be at the point of needing to ask that question.

Before the question is asked, there could be a whole lot of blockages in the way of the question being expressed.

“Will they think I’m an idiot?”

“I should already know this!”

The shame of not having an answer to a question already is very real to a lot of people. While there may not be someone in front of them to judge their lack of knowledge on a topic, whilst sitting in front of a computer or smartphone, the same neural pathways are used, meaning that, at some point, there is a moment of having to step out and feel a little dumb when asking that question.

It’s also not only the providing of that answer that matters, it’s how that answer is delivered. Instead of answering, “Why is the sky blue?” with the real scientific answer, you can put someone’s mind at ease by stating, “One of the most wondered-about questions about our planet is why our sky looks blue.” This shows the person that they aren’t dumb for not knowing the reason. It’s a question that humanity has been asking for a long, long time.

Speak the same language

While a lot of people have been to university, most haven’t been. So when we write on our blogs, FAQs and social media posts from an academic point of view, using complex words may be alienating a whole lot of potential customers. Unless your audience is full of theoretical physicists, then talking in scientific jargon is going to see you turned right off from the people you may want to reach the most.

Australia’s own CSIRO science organisation is excellent at this. Most of the messages that they put out are designed to educate the public on interesting scientific breakthroughs and what’s happening in the world, and universe, around us.

So they speak in a language that’s easy to understand and piques our curiosity by looking at the everyday world around us, and explaining why that thing does what it does.

Likewise, when you’re trying to explain your organisation’s whole reason for being, and you parrot back a mission statement that’s full of corporate “jargonisms” like, “improving stakeholder outcomes” and “finding efficiencies” you are speaking the language of annual reports, not social media posts.

“A better, more productive life” means so much more to the reader than, “improving stakeholder outcomes.”

Do your market research

Perhaps the most obvious, but most under-utilised way to connect with potential customers is to simply ask them what they like, what they dislike and what they find interesting.

In a bygone era of marketing, this was called market research. It involved a person standing at a table in a shopping centre, or at a train station stopping people to ask them a few questions in a survey. The point would be for the company commissioning the research, to find out whether there was any problem that needed solving by that company. A secondary objective would often be, to see other problems consumers had that the company may consider trying to solve in the future.

In the digital age, we mostly use analytics and data insights to tell us what people like. With that in mind, it can be refreshing when someone reaches out personally to you and asks you what you do and don’t like about a product or a service.

Better still, ask your existing customers why they buy from you. And then seek out those who buy from others and ask them why they don’t buy from you. You don’t have to set up a table at the local Woolworths. But you can give people an incentive to visit a website or answer a poll on Facebook or through LinkedIn.

Connecting in the real world – and online

Connecting with potential new customers is only difficult when you don’t understand them, or what motivates them. Once you take some time and effort to explore what the questions are that they need answered – or what problems they have that you can potentially solve – you’ll not only connect better with them in the real world, but you’ll connect better online.

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