Do You Get Personal?

Human TouchBruce Springsteen sang about the Human Touch:

“You might need something to hold on to,

When all the answers, they don’t amount to much, Somebody that you could just to talk to,

And a little of that human touch baby.”

Today’s modern technology has made us even more desirous of a human touch. Most fast, efficient online transactions are completely lacking human contact. The customer is shocked when you provide a truly personal online experience.

Here’s how you can get personal with your online customers:

  • Call first time customers within a day of their order. Ask them for feedback and thank them for their support.
  • Ditch the boring executive bios. Post profiles from the rank and file, the people who actually interact with your customers on a daily basis. Profiles remind your customers they are buying from people, not some corporation.
  • Answer the phones yourself. Tell customers who you are and get their feedback first hand. You will hang up with loads of new ideas.
  • Give to a worthy cause. Make sure you communicate specifically the people who benefit from your donations, so customers feel the connection.
  • Include a picture of each customer service representative in their email signatures. Make it easy for our customer to remember they are dealing with real, caring people.
  • Listen and respond to your customers via Facebook and Twitter. Don’t create social media outlets if you’re looking for another way to push your offers down the throats of your online friends.
  • Start blogging.

Have you ever been shocked by a company “getting personal” with you? Share your experience.

Old Advertising Formulas Aren’t Working

Old FormulasThe last time paid newspaper circulation in the United States was at its current level, a new house cost $4,600, a gallon of gas was 15 cents and the average annual wage was $2,400.  Clearly a lot has changed in the past sixty-four years.

Unfortunately, furniture marketing is stuck in this mid-20th century fantasy land. Print media is still the dominant media choice for family-owned and family-run furniture companies.

According to the 2009 ABTV industry watch report, the Top 25 sources experienced an average drop in sales of 10.4% last year. According to this same report, “Marketing holds the hope for revival.” This is a scary proposition, because as the report points out, “In furniture companies, of course, marketing has traditionally been weak.” It goes on to say, “Even dire circumstances have not induced furniture companies to try to learn from other consumer goods sectors” (page 15).

Marketing in today’s environment is confusing and difficult. Retailers and suppliers alike are trying to find enough consumer money to keep the lights on. Marketing professionals are paddling beyond control to learn and implement emerging media in a way that benefits their clients.

At the same time, even the studies are confusing and conflicting. While newspaper websites report that 43.6 of all U.S. internet users visit their sites, newspaper page views are less than one percent of total U.S. page views. In minutes, newspaper sites get the attention of the U.S. online audience just 1.2 percent of the time.

The conclusion of the ABTV report and my point are exactly the same: “The furniture industry needs to reject the old formulas that no longer get results, to replace the old dogmas that have lost their meaning, to refuse to settle for mediocrity, and to insist on world-class performance. It’s the only way to survive.”