We’ve had our finger firmly on the pulse of social media marketing since before it was even called social media.
We were excited to read “Why personalization is the next big trend in social media marketing” recently, detailing how the next must-have strategy for businesses is to focus on tailoring their messaging to their clients. The author provides a lot of great advice for how to go about doing this, but the sentiment behind this “emerging” trend may sound familiar – customers are more likely to engage with a brand that they feel values and remembers them (my words, not theirs).
This idea, of placing the user’s experience and needs, is a foundation not only of solid marketing but a cornerstone of excellent customer service in any industry, across the ages.
During high school, I worked at my small town’s public library. This was at the beginning of the 2000s, at the transition point between the old-school card catalogue and digital circulation systems. In this “analog” world, whenever someone came to the desk to check out their stack of books, we still ruffled through a cabinet to find their library card and could see a list of titles that they had taken home before.
We didn’t use the terms “user data” or even “database” back then, though that’s essentially what our record system was. Each patron’s file was almost a haiku of their interests in Dewey decimal. You could look over the card and discern whether someone was a fan of detective novels or gardening guides, but that intel wasn’t seen as marketing, we were just doing our job.
Over the year or two that I spent stacking shelves and checking out books to the families and friends that came through the doors, I got to know the various tastes of each patron. Knowing these interests allowed me and the other library workers to provide personalized recommendations. It was pretty reasonable to assume that if someone was into the Harry Potter series, they’d probably enjoy an author whose stories also involved teenagers, special powers, and faraway schools like Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic books.
As a bookish girl (and let’s face it, I’m still a bookish woman), providing these individual suggestions was not only a professional service, but also an excellent retention technique. Generally, if you were able to get someone who liked reading to continue to reading (and feel excited about telling the person behind the circulation desk what they liked or didn’t like about the story), you could count on them coming back in a few weeks, thrilled to see what other adventures they could find among the stack. It was an effective, and touching, sales technique.
Our COO Lani Rosales had a similar experience as a teen, working at her family’s independent bookstore. Instead of having a patron’s book record to peruse, she independently kept track of customers’ preferences, birthdays, and other information they told her, using post-its. She tells me that she would even send handwritten thank you cards to customers, and these personal touches led to lasting relationships with customers who felt special, recognized, and known by the business.
The tools that we now use to keep track of this consumer data have grown more sophisticated, just as surely as the digital circulation system has replaced the card catalogue, but the basic concept remains true: people appreciate when others take the time to get to know them.
In an increasingly complicated and technical world, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that paying attention to your customer allows you the opportunity to be agile and provide the best products and services for them. But before the CRMs and apps that you may be employing to collect this data, before you even drafted your business plan and thought about how to design your logo, I would hazard a guess that you were already paying attention.
You’re smart, so you were able to see that there was a need or desire that wasn’t being addressed properly and then you had the drive to go out and fill that market. Keep listening, keep learning. Your customers will continue to love you if you do.