In the last 10 years digital marketing technology has enabled massive changes in marketing and sales, with a major shift of power between the voice of the seller-brand and that of the buyer-customer. The revolution has been powered by the desire of buyers to have a two ways relationship with brands and to share their experience with fellow buyers.
None of us likes to be treated like a “consumer” any more. We want brands to hear us and we want to be treated and respected as unique individuals, whose business is important to the seller. Without digital technologies like analytics, responsive sites, social media, CRM’s, dedicated apps and lately chat bots, none of this would have been possible.
But with all the automation and technologies now used in marketing and selling, is there a risk that everything becomes robotised and the relationship invasive, impersonal and artificial? Of course, yes.
But it does not need to be so. Indeed, if technology is employed with the buyer persona and her context in mind, I believe marketing and sales technologies can help making the relationship more human. This can be done if we consider four approaches that make the act of buying more satisfactory – physical or digital as it may be.
Think of your preferred store on main street. Why do you like to buy there and keep doing so? I propose there are four reasons:
- Recognition – the sales person recognizes you, probably she remembers your name and greets you with a personal remark. She treats you like an individual who is important for her business. This is also possible in a digital environment, the enabling tech being responsive sites, social media, CRM, e-mail automation – used properly.
- Conversation – albeit you are there to buy something, you will have the opportunity to chat about stuff surrounding the business, maybe new skills, or new uses for a product you already bought, or comments about an upcoming new product. Enabling tech in digital context: blogs, social media, deep content available on the site, chat bot’s.
- Searchability – if you have a need and you don’t know which product fills it best you can just ask. Or if you know which product you want you don’t need to wander around shelves full of things you don’t need. You ask and she will bring the product to you. Or the information you need. Enabling tech in digital context: chat bot’s, shift to topic-centred human language SEO (someone now even calls it HEO: Human Enjoyment Optimization).
- Continuity – the good sales person remembers what you bought, she asks how you are finding the stuff you already bought and suggests new purchases that may fit your needs. This closes the loop with the recognition bit: you are indeed a buyer persona, not a stranger. Enabling tech in digital context: CRM with contextual information, used to power a good e-mail automation software.
So, each of these four positive aspects of physical selling can be achieved on line with good use of marketing and sales technologies. And to make the technologies warmer and more personal, there are three things you should bear in mind at all times: the buyer persona and his stage in the customer journey; the brand personality and character (the brand is the seller persona, key to give continuity on your side) and the focus on helping and being on service, not on hard convincing. Sales will come as a reward for your effort.
Ready to become humanly digital?
Renzo Rizzo is managing partner of Marketing Blu – Shaping Ideas. Our mission is to help companies turn ideas into business and create a strong and lasting bond between a brand and its buyers. We are expert in brand building, digital strategy and product-business design.