Attending a business networking meeting recently the attendees were asked how many wrote blogs? Proudly I put up my hand and, of the few of us who had, I was asked why.
Before being asked it I would have immediately answered ‘it helps with search engine rankings’. Whilst true (it can help but only if they recognise quality information that they deem makes you more of an expert in your field), I left the meeting wondering whether that was the only reason as to why I wrote them.
And the question kept nagging at me over the following days before I was sent the following quote by a business acquaintance:
“People don’t want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information. They want faith – faith in you, your goals, your success, in the story you tell. The missing ingredient in most failed communication is humanity – Annette Simmons, author of ‘Whoever tells the best Story wins’”.
And the more I thought about the quote the more I realised how true it is. The commonly held fact about advertising is that, on average, people see some 300 advertisements a day (I bet it’s more!) and remember only a fraction of them. And only a fraction of those lead to a purchase.
So I sat down with my brother (and business partner) and we analysed why we’d won the recent contracts that we had and, as importantly, why we’d lost the few we had.
Of course our first thoughts were the obvious ones – it’s price, the competition, our brand positioning. But the more we looked at it, the more we realised it was about how well we engaged with customers from the very first time we met them and whether they felt we were people they’d be happy to spend their hard-earned money on a new kitchen with us.
And we came to the same conclusion, so neatly summed up in the quote above, about people ‘not needing more information…it’s about being more human’.
A quick, apposite story. A couple came into the showroom last week enquiring about a new kitchen. As we began talking to them they revealed that their home had recently burned down. A horrific story that each and every one of us hope we never have to go through. They kindly offered us the chance to go and measure up for their new kitchen and we spent as much of the appointment sympathising and engaging with the lovely couple as we did trying to understand their requirements for their new kitchen! Sometimes tragedy transcends business – something we’d all do better to remember.
I don’t know whether we’ll be fortunate enough to win their business but, as I said in my blog Is your kitchen just a room?, selling fitted kitchens is more than just about demonstrating the features and benefits of the furniture or appliances or other elements contained therein. What we’re actually selling clients is a room that meets their dreams and aspirations for them and their family and friends. And, given what they’d been through, we’d love to help them get back to normal in our own little way.
So we’re now making some changes to the way we present ourselves. We’re spending more time looking at how we interact with customers both face-to-face and, in today’s digital ever-more inhuman world, places where people will ‘meet’ us such as our website. We’ve changed our homepage to include an introduction into our blog section called ‘find out about the real us’ and have other plans in progress to let potential customers ‘…have faith in us, our goals, our success and in the story we tell’.
Of course, being good communicators isn’t everything. Having the right product offer, prices, service, product quality etc etc is important but, in a world where communication overload is rife, just being a bit more human in our approach with customers can only help.