As marketers, we know it’s important to build relationships. To underscore this point, I want to share a meaningful example from a great book, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, by Daniel Goleman. Goleman explains how distinct parts of our brains are activated depending on whether we treat others as a “You” or treat others as an “It.” His advice has a meaningful impact in small business marketing and customer loyalty. I’ll share how this plays out for marketers like you.
Different parts of our brains process situations depending on whether we perceive we are being treated as a “You” or an “It.” Needless to say, it’s generally better to treat others and to be treated as a “You.” Treating people as “You” means the interactions are personable, empathetic and respectful. Treating others as a “You” makes social connections and reinforces neural pathways of affinity and trust. The “It” treatment objectifies, seems unfeeling, impolite and unwelcome. Goleman also suggests we are hard-wired to sense whether we are treated as a “You” or an “It.”
It occurs to me that many online marketers treat their prospects (and especially their customers) as an “It.” If you are sending out shotgun-style email blasts to your list, you are probably treating people as an “It.” Look at the emails you get in your inbox every day. Are the marketing messages targeted to you, identifying with your interests, relevant to your previous purchases, searches or clicks? Has it been many months since you have heard from a company, only to suddenly receive an email that starts with “dear valued customer?” Even if someone signs up to a company’s newsletter, explicitly gives permission for the company to communicate with them, they are likely to mark their future messages as junk or spam if recipients feel like they are being treated as an “It”. We are wired to know almost instantly if a company is marketing to us as a “You” or an “It”.
Allow me to illustrate this scenario for you.
Standard email marketing and autoresponder marketing tools (read: not Infusionsoft) perpetuate this “It” marketing mentality. You know the drill, load up your list, pick a nice looking yet generic feeling template, try to write something catchy and blast away. Someone buys your product or service, but your autoresponder sequence keeps on running as if they “It” were still shopping, continuing to treat “It” as a prospect.
Worse yet, you have a prospect that buys and becomes a customer, but you still have them in your prospects list and blast them a new promotion with a big discount on the product they just bought at full price. Ouch! There is nothing social about this style of marketing, no relationships being built, no connections or affinity being fostered. And don’t be fooled by thinking that putting a link to your Twitter or Facebook account at the bottom of your message makes you a social marketer. All the expense and effort to drive traffic to your site, all the compelling copy and offers to get people to give you their contact information, all the expense of the leads you acquire, all the connections you want with your prospects and customer are literally blasted to pieces as you market to “It”.
We are social creatures and data is the key to social marketing to “You”. How do you make it personal? In my next post, I’ll share specific suggestions on how to shift from marketing to “It” to “You,” which will make you a better marketer and will help your customers and prospects appreciate you even more.