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Communicating with your audience

How did ordering cardboard shipping containers open my eyes to an important communication tool? A short detour first:

Up until about six weeks ago I was very active on social media. And, I’ll admit, sometimes I dove into political discussions. Every once in a while, a conversation would be nuanced, insightful. But, increasingly, online conversations were one-sided, knee-jerk pronouncements of party lines. I have retreated.

This social media trend is partly driven by the forum itself; Facebook and Twitter don’t lend themselves to shades of gray. But it’s deeper than that. Communications in 2020 are more likely to be shouted, often literally, and conversations don’t have the back-and-forth they need to be productive.

Marketers’ audiences aren’t similarly polarized. You’re pitching your product or service to a targeted group, and they’re likely pre-disposed to a message from you.

But what can we learn from today’s bigger communication breakdowns? An experience I had with an online marketer is a good illustration. I was trying to order a container, and was having trouble finding what I needed.

The “call us” button on this company’s website beckoned me. Why not? I dialed the number, and was quickly in touch with a real-time, real-life customer service rep. “Laura” took in my question, apologized that the site didn’t have the level of detail I was looking for, and provided the information I needed to make my purchase. She thanked me for my business.

She listened, and she responded. I felt a calm and appreciation way out of proportion to this act of customer service.

I’m trying to apply that lesson to my interactions with clients. I’m listening more, slowing things down a bit. My goal is to have every conversation end with the client knowing, figuratively, which container to order.