Welcome to this week’s Dare To Dream Bigger business podcast episode.
I’ve been busy this week running the Dare To Dream Bigger business summit and one of the things I noticed in our discussions is how rare it is for a business to truly connect with its customers. And that got me thinking… How often do you open your inbox and find it full of emails that demand your attention? How often is it bulging at the seams with messages from businesses you barely remember, but who want you to buy from them? And when did you last receive an email from a business that made you feel genuinely important and valued?
And I realised that it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of accidentally nagging your customers, when you email them, rather than inspiring your customers.
So in today’s podcast, we dive in and explore:
- How the problem happens – and most of us don’t notice it creeping up on us
- Why it’s an epidemic these days
- How it will be hurting your business growth and sales
And then I take you through a step-by-step process that helps you to identify exactly how you could turn things around, so that you add value, easily build a lasting relationship with your customers and turn from an oft-ignored email to one they actually look forward to receiving.
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— Clare Josa (@clare_josa) January 25, 2016
And when you’ve listened to today’s episode, I’d love to know:
- What have you learned today? Any insights? Surprises? Questions?
- How might the ideas in today’s podcast help you, your business and your dream customers?
- What action could you take in the next hour to implement these changes?
Can’t wait to hear from you – over on Facebook or via the comments below!
And next week I’ll be sharing with you insider secrets for handling customers you secretly want to strangle. Not to be missed! Catch each episode by subscribing via the iTunes button, above, or getting the quick-reminder newsletter (form above).
With love, Namaste,
Clare Josa, Mentor To Passionate World-Changers
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Prefer the transcript? Here you go!
Hello, and welcome to this week’s Dare To Dream Bigger business podcast with me, Clare Josa, mentor to passionate world-changers. Today, we’re going to be looking at whether you’re inspiring your customers with your email messaging and marketing or whether you’re secretly nagging them.
Now, not many of us would want to admit that we’re nagging our customers, and yet it’s so easy to fall into that trap. I’m going to take you through how to spot whether that’s happening to you, what the risks are, what’s going to happen if you don’t turn it around, and then some practical strategies for turning from a nagging in their inbox to somebody who inspires them.
What I’ve noticed over the years, and I’ve been running my own business since 2002, is that we connect with our customers via social media or via their emails, and so much of what we do, if we’re really honest, feels like it’s going into a black hole. I remember back in 2008, sitting in a room with some really, really high-powered business owners who were launching a brand new program. They were so excited. I sat there as they pressed “Send.”
They waited for the emails to come through, and it had gone to a list of 20,000 people. They’d spent months working on this dream and nothing happened. We sat there in the room in silence waiting – waiting, waiting. Eventually, the program was a success, but it took more than that initial email. But, what happened for them was totally demoralizing. They felt that maybe they’d failed; they’d gone in the wrong direction. What they’d expected was to send out that email and, within seconds, to get thousands of people signing up for what they were offering.
What went wrong? Nothing. They simply forgot some basic truths that not everybody is sitting on their email all the time. Those who are have hopefully got some time management skills that mean, if your email comes through, if it’s not on their priority list in that moment, they might not read it. Even if they do read it, there’s a strong chance that even if it resonates with them, they won’t take action right away. They’ll put it on their to-do list for later. It might slip off their to-do list. It really takes a lot to inspire a customer to the extent that they’re excited, waiting for every email you send, and ready to take action immediately bumping you up their to-do list.
Here’s the problem. We connect with our customers. We sent them our newsletters. We send them our special offers, and we sit there, and we wait for them to take action. The problem is you can’t force anyone to take action. Over time, it can end up — you know, we’re in a crowded airspace. Some people’s inboxes are getting hundreds of emails a day, and that’s if you even make it into the inbox and you don’t get hotmailed into the spam folder or gmailed into the promo folder, and it never ceases to amaze me how many of my customers don’t know they’ve got a junk folder and don’t know that gmail has a promo folder, and they complain that they’re not hearing from me, but that’s where it’s going.
It’s a crowded airspace. The inboxes are full. Their to-do lists are overflowing. Most people are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. How do you get their attention? This is where the problem comes.
It can feel like we’re sending our messages into a black hole. We send out our weekly newsletter. We send out our special offers. We don’t get quite the response we were expecting.
Now, there’ll be a large portion that don’t even get the message. There’ll be another portion that get the message, put it on their to-do list to read later, and never get around to it. Then there’ll be those that do read it and think, “Wow. That was great. I’ll deal with that tonight,” and life gets in the way. It’s actually a really small number who are engaged enough with us that they get excited about opening up those emails and taking action.
Now, when you feel like you’re sending your messages into a black hole–and you’re giving, giving, giving, hopefully, rather than taking, taking, taking–you can end up asking yourself, “Why isn’t anyone buying?” I see this so often with the people I mentor, and I’ve been there myself. As you send out something that’s absolutely gold dust, and you wonder why you’re not getting the response that you expected, it can build up to be resentment.
The next time you send out a newsletter you think, “Well, none of you did this,” yeah? We’ve all had that experience. It can create frustration, and it can even lead to people who have got fantastic business ideas totally giving up. Now, that fear and that resentment build the frustration, and we can even end up feeling desperate. Well, you know, what do I have to say differently in this email to make you guys click? Yeah?
I had a situation recently. I run a weekly newsletter, video newsletter called FiveMinute.biz, which people absolutely love. But, sometimes when I send it out, it feels like it’s going into a black hole. Every now and then I sit there and think, “Should I keep going with this newsletter?” Just when I make the decision, “You know what? Maybe I’ll just let it go,” within hours, as though people can smell that, I start getting people saying, “Hey, I really love the videos.” It’s just that maybe 1 in 100 or 1 in 500 people actually take the time to comment or feedback.
The fact is, you never know the impact you’re making on people that they’re simply not telling you. When you ask people to comment and to share, only a tiny proportion will. They’re all so overwhelmed. There’s so much noise in that airspace. And, a large number of people are scared about their privacy these days, and they don’t want to go around sharing how much your stuff helped them because, frankly, that’s like taking out an ad on the front page of the newspaper saying, “Hey, I had a problem, and I needed help fixing it.”
If you get to the desperation point, the frustration, the resentment and the giving up, customers smell this. Your tone will change in your messages. Instead of being heart based, positive, and coming from love, it’s going to be coming from irritation, perhaps even anger and fear.
Now, this is when we shift into nagging zone. It’s so easy to do. If what you’re doing when you’re creating your messages is feeling annoyed and resentful, that is the vibe that will go through every word you write and speak. It will go through your offers. People can smell it a mile off. Just like dogs can smell fear, customers can smell nagging, and they can tell when we’ve got an agenda.
For most of us, there’s enough crud in our inbox that, to get us to open a message, we need to have a really strong relationship with that company, and we need to feel inspired. We want things that uplift us. Okay, there are only so much cute cat video things you can do in a day, and I’m not talking about superficial stuff. What I’m talking about here is a deep connection with your customer, seeing the world through their eyes and noticing what you can do to play a role in their life, to make their life better. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling services or widgets; you’re creating a transformation and an experience for those customers.
If you end up in the resentment, frustration, despair, and nagging route, then what will happen is your open rates will go down. You’ll be damaging the relationship with your customers without even realizing. They’re going to feel nagged. None of us like to be told what to do. None of us like to be made to feel bad just because we’re doing our best and it doesn’t suit somebody else’s agenda. You’re going to get unsubscribes, and you’re going to find that social media engagement is already pretty low unless you’re doing paid postings. You’re going to find that that engagement goes down further too. In these days, where it can get harder and harder to reach people organically via social media, your mailing list is your business for so many business owners.
What can you do instead? I’ve got an NLP (neurolinguistic programming) exercise I’d love to share with you called Perceptual Positions. Now, this is about standing in somebody else’s shoes and seeing the world through their eyes without judgment. I used to head of market research at Dyson, do getting into the customer’s shoes was something that we were trying to do on a regular basis, and it’s a technique I’ve brought with me over the past decade or more of running my own business.
What you do for this, it really helps to actually physically move. If you stay sitting in your chair or whatever you’re doing listening to this podcast today, then you’re going to find it quite hard to do, so I invite you to stand up and then go and stand somewhere else in the room. Imagine. We’re going to do some real mindreading stuff, but just imagine. Play with this that you can stand in the shoes of one of your dream customers.
Imagine you’re holding your body the way they would be holding their body. Imagine you’re breathing the way they would be breathing. Adjust your posture, and notice the kind of thoughts that they’re thinking when it comes to the solution that you offer.
You might want to press pause and allow some stuff to bubble up here without judgment, without filtering. What are the kinds of thoughts they’re thinking? What are the kinds of problems that they’ve got?
Now, what would you need to be doing and sharing and giving to become a non-negotiable part of that person’s experience of life? How could you help them in ways that have nothing to do with selling? How could you inspire them? What interests them that’s kind of a lead in to the service or widget or product that you offer? What kind of things would they love you to be talking about?
There are so many big brands out there that just do nothing other than pitch. “Hey, here’s our latest special offer. Hey, here’s what’s selling best on our website.” They never send you an article about how to fix this thing or how to deal with that problem, or look at this; we’ve been having fun in this way. Have you? It’s not about building a relationship. It’s about selling.
Yet, given how expensive it can be to find new customers, keeping your existing customers, keeping them loyal and passionate, and turning them into super fans, is essential. That requires you to allow them to connect with you, and a relationship is a two-way thing. It’s about listening to them and then talking to them in a way that inspires and uplifts them.
And it’s about being you, living and breathing your brand. Whether your brand is just you or whether you’re leading a larger company, what your brand stands for needs to flow through every message you put out there. It’s time to stop hiding behind that brand, allowing yourself to be a human, and allowing yourself to be personable.
One of my top tips is, please, please, please get rid of these sending from no reply email addresses. Yeah, we all know it’s a pain when you get 2,000 “out of office” messages in August, but people want to connect with you, and there’s nothing that says more clearly that this company doesn’t give two hoots about you as a person than replying to them to an email only to get it to bounce saying we don’t read this inbox. It’s one of the rudest things you can do. It really is. Being human is so important.
About ten years ago, I used to run a website on seasonal food. It’s something I did during maternity leave with my first son. I managed to get it so it ranked number one on Google for all sorts of stuff, all sorts of recipes and ingredient information, and it used to outperform the BBC food website and Delia.
I used to send out a weekly newsletter with recipes for people who got veg boxes and bought local, seasonal food. It was very human. The newsletter had the recipes in, but it also had stories in. I don’t know about you, but I love reading recipe books where there’s an introduction, there’s a story behind the recipe rather than just cold, factual recipes. It was a hugely successful newsletter.
Then there came a point where the business grew too big. I didn’t want to make it full time, so I actually gave it to a company that specialized in eco and green products. They took the humanity out of the newsletters, and it became just about the recipes, and they stopped sending it from somebody who had a name, and it was just that business’s name.
Within about six months, the brand was dead because it had lost the human connection. Now, obviously, if you’re doing the newsletters for a big company, you need to find a way around this, but people want to connect with the energy of the humanity of your brand, not just be sales pitched, not just be nagged. Standing in those customers’ shoes, what would get them excited to open their inbox and find you in there? What would make them think, “Well, no. Okay. To-do list out the window – I’m reading this right now”?
What kind of value could you be adding as a gift? I’m not talking compulsive over-giving. I’m talking about making a positive difference in their lives. How could you become somebody who feels like a trusted friend or expert?
How could you build a relationship that’s two ways? And, how could you become a nonnegotiable part of their life? When you have that privilege, you don’t need to sell. You’re in there. You’re inspiring. When they want to buy, they’ll remember who you are and you stay top of mind.
The benefits of doing this are that you massively increase your open rates. You build that relationship with your customers. If you’re doing it via email, then it has a knock-on effect for social media. You’ll get more interactions. You’ll get better value out of any paid campaigns you’re running. You’re going to increase your sales rates from your email campaigns. And, you get to make a difference in people’s lives.
It’s not a high effort. It just requires you to see things from their point of view rather than yours. Sure, you want to make the sale and grow your business. They want you to be part of their life. They want you to add value. You need to do something different to everybody else in your marketplace to create that long-term, two-way relationship.
I’m curious. What have you learned today? Is there anything that you spot that maybe if you’re being totally honest, it means you might be seen as nagging, or are you pretty much sorted and you know that you’re well on your way to inspiring all of your customers with your marketing, your communications, and emails? What have you learned? What could you do differently, and what action could you take in the next hour to start turning things around?
I would love to hear from you. The show notes for this episode are at the Dare To Dream Bigger podcast site, DTDBpodcast.biz/002. I’d really love to hear from you. If you found this useful, please share it far and wide with your friends.
I hope today’s installment has inspired you with some ways that you can connect with what your customers wish you were doing and the way they wish you were communicating and the way they wish you were relating with them. I really know whatever kind of business you’re involved in and whatever its size, there will be things that you can do to take that inspiration to the next level and to move away from nagging.
The simplest thing you can do, if you take just one thing away from today’s podcast, whenever you do a customer communication, really connect with them as human beings. They’re not just numbers on a mailing list. They’re people with hopes and dreams, wishes, and fears. Connect with them and then, before you send the communication, ask yourself, “What is my intention with this communication? Is it to inspire or might I be perceived as nagging?” Be totally honest and notice if anything needs to change.
Let me know how you get on with this. I can’t wait to hear what results you get. I’ll be back soon with the next episode of the Dare To Dream Bigger podcast.