Stop and Listen. Your audience is talking to you.
Human beings are emotional people. We do not see things in just black or white. There is often more to an answer than simply yes or no. People, a.k.a consumers, don’t all think the same way. Somewhere between black and white lies the shades of grey that make us individuals with unique thoughts and opinions.
This is the beauty and the curse of trying to sell to humans. It used to be about marketing and advertising to your target audience. But now, you need to change the way you communicate with your customers. The old way of selling is long gone, it is now about forming a connection between the customer and the brand.
It’s called Brand Engagement.
Let me explain.
Marketing is the steps or actions taken to promote the sale of a product or service.
Advertising is the act of producing advertisements to help sell a product or service.
To most people both advertising and marketing mean the same thing, it means someone is trying to get me to buy something I many not need or want. Often that message is an interruption into your personal time. And that’s not cool. People are resistant to being told what to buy or when to buy. They want CONTROL.
Let’s just say that advertising and marketing is the concept of helping to promote a product or service with the goal of making it attractive to consumers. If so, then why would you fight your customers? Give them what they want.
What is missing in that equation is the idea of creating a relevant, longterm relationship with the consumer where they feel a deep and real connection with the brand.
Branding is the notion of creating an emotional connection to a product or service. It goes beyond a purchase or product awareness. It is deeper and far more valuable connection. For restaurants this is invaluable. Who doesn’t have an opinion about the food they eat. People love to share their dining experiences both positive and negative. Don’t you? I know I do.
Brand Engagement is the key to longterm success.
Marketing used to be about building awareness and informing the audience, while advertising was about pushing a call-to-action and converting on a sale. Sure, selling products are important, but that is a short sited goal. When building a brand you need to have a long-term goal: To build brand advocates.
The reason for this shift is content.
Marketing and Advertising can be a one-way conversation, where the company is telling the consumer what to think with no opportunity for the consumer to respond. A two-way communication is about engagement. Providing a platform for consumers to respond and react to your brand. To share suggestions about how to use the brand. Think of brand advocates as your everyday, citizen salespeople. The new world of media requires this relationship for a companies longterm sustainability. The valuable part of this two-way communication is the actually listening to your audience and hearing what they have to say.
Today, consumers want control. You no longer have to wait for the message to come to you. Search engines and SEO are the gateways to information. Consumers are proactive and no longer wait to be enticed. Our phones and cars deliver answers without us barely having to ask the question. Customers find information and comments about a product on their own, which means that companies no longer have full control of their message unless they are part of the conversation.
When you search your restaurant what comes up?
This is where the role of social media and blogging has changed the game. It is now necessary to develop your own content, in-order to share your brand with your audience. Research used to try and tell a restaurant what their target audience thought about the brand. They may share what they liked or disliked about the product. Even if the audience polled was an actual customer, the results were so far from real-time that it might as well have been a one-sided conversation.
This all comes back to engaging with your audience. Take advantage of the technology that is available to make communicating easier. The web has brought your customer closer to you and your brand. You just need to make sure you are listening.
How are you using technology to create a relationship with your customers? Have you polled them or asked them for feedback? Did you listen to what they had to say?