It’s tempting when you are looking at a list of hundreds or thousands of people to speak like you are addressing a crowd. With microphone in hand, you declare how much better you can make your audience’s lives and businesses through the use of your amazing products and services. You envisage your audience standing together, shoulder to shoulder in an infinitely deep auditorium, but how are your audience actually experiencing you and your business?
When you read an email, when you open your junk mail or even in carefully unfolding a letter, while you could be at work, a trendy coffee shop or your backyard – it is just you, no-one else. So when you read this content addressed to you talking about a community or audience that you have no connection with, it feels less personal, it doesn’t feel like the message is directed at you.. rather, it makes you feel like you are a number, an unknown standing in a shadowy room.
It makes you feel less important, not necessarily bad, but it disconnects from the message in a way that makes you feel a lot better about disregarding it, throwing it away and paying it no mind at all. So it is essential to try and change your mindset about your audience. Stop thinking of them as your group of tens, hundreds or thousands of ‘leads’ and start thinking about them as people, each single person in your list joining because some part of your message appealed to them – build on that!
It can be a simple thing to make your customers feel special and just a little bit more connected to the experience you are designing with your brand, here are just a few things you might consider the next time you send out a bulk email, a printed flyer or a product catalogue for your customers:
YOUR CUSTOMERS NAME.
Perhaps the simplest thing to acquire for your audience list, is your customers name, so instead of only using this to address the envelope or your email, add it into your content. Most digital email delivery services like Mailchimp and Convertkit will allow you to add in a little tag that will help you add in your customers name within your email for instance.
So instead of just adding in the more common “Hi YourName”, depending on how formal or informal your brand, why not tie it into your content like a normal conversation? This will help you feel less like a robot and more like a real person trying to have an authentic one-on-one with your customer and they will feel more empowered to not only absorb your message, but question it and let them know how they really feel about the good and bad.
Note: Getting the bad is good thing, comments that help highlight the things you might have a little (or all) wrong for this real person can help you to refine both whether you need to make changes to grow your audience in that direction or whether this person isn’t your ideal customer and you need to actually change things to make your message less appealing to them and more appealing to someone else. Graphic design can be integral to this kind of subtle shift that helps to bring in more of the people that will resonate with your products and services.
WHEN AND WHERE.
When are you sending out your message and when is your customer most likely to be absorbing that message? The way you speak to your friends or family during a lunch break in a busy day versus a lazy Sunday afternoon are drastically distinctive, so why treat your customers any differently.
The when and where will also affect the kinds of other material that your customer is likely engaging with at the same time (we live in a distracted digital age!). So take a moment to imagine what your ideal customer is doing when they receive your message, are they sitting out on the veranda with a warm cup of tea or skimming marketing emails at the end of a busy work day. Are they watching several children and juggling dinner, or calmly in front of the television with a pet snuggling in their lap.
Envisage these circumstances and apply them to the most integral parts of your graphic design and content – distracted and quick means your message should get to the point quickly, be bright and eye catching.. but if your customer is slowly absorbing your content, you can be slower and more deliberate, your design should be calmer and less hard hitting so it isn’t distracting over long periods, or after viewing a few times, helping your customer to slowly dissolve into the mood you are creating with your message.
ONCE A YEAR.
Be interested in your customers lives beyond their initial or regular interactions with you. This not only helps you to feel more authentic, but it can help your message to turn up in your customers thoughts at just the right moment that your product or service can make the most impact.
Birthdays are the obvious choice that many businesses already engage with, but what about other important events in your customers lives? Now, I’m not asking you to get too creepy (we have all heard about the woman who found out she was pregnant by receiving marketing content that was sent by the result of an algorithm that was tracking purchasing decisions..), but if you were an accountant for instance, knowing the time of year that your customer is thinking about doing their taxes (or knowing they usually forget) can give you the perfect opening to send a quick personalised reminder. Your customer will not only be surprised and delighted by your thoughtfulness, they will love you and your brand for it!
Lastly can be a little more mathematical and statistical than the rest and is used a little less often (because it takes a bit more work). If used properly though, you can not only be able to communicate effectively with your perfect customer, but also different variants of your customers with the perfect content. It will mean asking your customers a few more questions though, which could be more or less effective depending on your customer demographic (I hate using that word).
It is most effective in the digital realm, but is used effectively in print in mediums like magazine subscription services. The key here is that in print, you most likely want to be able to get this kind of information up front which can be a little overwhelming, so be careful, because you don’t want to seem to your customer like you are coming on too strong. In digital, there are ways (depending on your platform of choice) to either ask these questions a few days, a week or longer after they have added themselves into your customer list.
In this way you can get back in touch and not only remind them of you, but ask for feedback as well, just make sure not to send this kind of questionnaire out on the same day(s) as your normal correspondence. Check out the capabilities of your system though, as there are now far less obtrusive ways (while still trying to not be too creepy) of finding out which of your offerings that your customer is most interested in. These can even be simple things like, who clicked on the blue link for the blue category and who did not.. which could tell you that a particular customer is interested more in one thing than another. This can allow you to customise some pieces of your content specifically for them – great right!