How to Create the Conversations Your Customers Really Want

DebraEllis
Debra Ellis President, Wilson & Ellis Consulting

Posted on February 4th 2014

How to Create the Conversations Your Customers Really Want

questions “It’s all about the conversation” is the social media battle cry. It is not as loud today as it once was but advocates still champion conversation as a marketing tool. The promise of people driving sales by discussing companies, products and services has yet to be realized. The day may come but until it does, we need to focus on the marketing tactics delivering results.

The recommendations we make to our clients focus more on conversion than conversation. We believe the primary objective of any business is to provide solutions to customer needs at a profit. Generally speaking, customers don’t want to have conversations with companies. They want fast and easy service at a reasonable price.

There is one exception. Customers do want conversations that provide solutions. There are great benefits to solution-oriented conversations for customer and company. They solve problems, improve relationships, and increase revenue. The best ones are one-sided with the company providing information that resolves issues with minimal effort from customers and prospects. They are available on demand or delivered via email, direct mail, and social media platforms.

One-sided conversations are a long way from the original social media vision of the new marketing world but they are delivering the best results now. The environment may be different tomorrow but companies seeking growth and higher profits today need to provide the content that customers want. To create the conversations that deliver conversions answer these questions:

What is the real value of _________?

The real value has nothing to do with the price. Tickets to a major sporting event are life changing to some, a waste of money to others. Your content has to communicate the value directly to the people who want or need your products and services while ignoring the rest.

How do I fix _________?

People who need repairs want to know how it is done so they can determine if they can do it themselves. The parts industry is capitalizing on this by creating videos showing how to do it yourself with links to the parts needed. The best ones identify the skills required and provide step-by-step instructions.

Does this REALLY work?

No one wants to make a bad decision or fall victim to a snake oil salesman. Providing detailed information on the benefits of your products and services reduces the fear of being victimized. Including testimonials significantly improves people's willingness to believe your story.

Who do I contact when _________?

Fail-safes provide comfort when people are trying new products or services. Making it easy for people to contact the right person or department the first time reduces your costs and improves the trust factor.

What if _________?

This is where your frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) come to life. Providing answers to “what if” questions prior to the sale or return minimizes people’s need to contact your company. It’s a win for company and customer.

What’s the downside?

It’s hard for marketers to point out the weaknesses. After all, the need to highlight benefits has been ingrained in every marketer. People know everything isn’t perfect. Offering a few “it won’t do this” comments makes the “it does this” sections more believable.

What’s next?

People need to know what to do next. Incorporating a good call to action that moves them forward is a service. If they have an issue, move them towards resolution. If they are looking for products or services, move them towards the sales funnel. Don’t leave them hanging at the end of the conversation.

DebraEllis

Debra Ellis

President, Wilson & Ellis Consulting

Debra Ellis is a business consultant, author, and speaker. She specializes in showing companies how to improve customer acquisition and retention using integrated marketing and service strategies. Her latest marketing guide, 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing, is a practical resource for marketers seeking better results with minimal investment. Her engineering background provides statistical insight to finding actionable data that can be used to grow companies and reduce costs.

She is recognized as an expert in marketing from direct mail to social media, customer behavior, and strategic planning. Her expertise is often tapped by media sources including: The New York Times, CNN/Money.com’s Small Business Makeovers, Target Marketing, Multichannel Merchant, and MarketingProfs.

Her marketing guides include 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing, Social Media 4 Direct Marketers, and Marketing to the Customer Lifecycle.

Debra loves the art and science of multichannel marketing. She is a student and teacher of the methods that transform shoppers into buyers and buyers into lifelong customers. In 1995, she founded Wilson & Ellis Consulting, a boutique firm specializing in creating strategies that make channels and departments work together to optimize the customer experience. Since then, she has worked with over a hundred distinguished clients such as Costco, Edmund Scientifics, Jacuzzi, Ross-Simons Jewelry, and The Body Shop.

Prior to founding her firm, Debra was instrumental in the record growth of Ballard Designs, Inc. while serving as Chief Operating Officer. Today, she uses her experience and expertise to show executives how to successfully navigate marketing channels and integrate activities to profitably grow their business. Her practical approach maximizes the return on investment.

She can be reached via email at dellis@wilsonellisconsulting.com. She blogs at http://multichannelmagic.com/blog

See Full Profile >

Comments

This is a good article about B2C conversations. I agree with the points mentioned above in the article. Debra Ellis has mentioned informative things very effectively in the article. I appreciate the post.

Thanks

Jeremy Tintle

 

Thank you Jeremy. In my experience, the questions work for B2B too.

Yes b2b is changing.. Good article.

I am a social engineer and have been working with NPOs/NGOs and CBOs across the whole spectrum in South Africa ie in education,health,youth development,crime fighting to mention but a few.I want to believe that with the present economic melt-down and the resultant funding redtape social media marketing is the way to go,since our target is the youth who mostly follow the social media trend.

Thanks for sharing the topic on the marketing tactics which deliver results. The post is really well written and the points mentioned here are true. Very informative.

Thank you Ajay.

Great read! I especially enjoy your remarks on being honest with consumers and clients in regards to letting them understand what your individual prodict or service won't do for them. I believe that this is imperative to show anyone interested in a product or service a company may have so they fully understand what they are getting and aren't surprised when the item/service they are buying doesn't do everything they "thought" it would. Great point!

Thank you Natalie. People tend to be afraid to share details that could be considered negative but it reduces costs and improves trust.