I stood up from the pile of work on my desk to stretch. I was hot, my hair was sticking up and I was tired and cranky. I looked out the window and sighed. It was a beautiful summer day. The branches lifted ever so gently, the cloudless sky was clear and blue and the sun seemed to beckon me with its rays.
As I took in the moment and simply breathed in, two little girls came into view. Both wearing brightly colored shorts and tops chatting happily. They part ambled, part skipped as they made their way closer to my window. I watched them with a smile remembering the summers of my youth.
The little girls sat down across from my window where there’s just a bit of curb at the end of a grassy hill that leads to a pond. They sat facing each other in intense conversation (which at age 10 could be about anything from Hannah Montana to world peace). I cocked my head as I watched the ease they exhibited. One of the little girls held up her cell phone and snapped a photo as they continued to chat away (now that’s one thing I didn’t own as a kid!).
Children buy, sell and negotiate every day of their life. They do it naturally, without sophisticated strategies and tools. They sell their ideas to other kids (which is how you find yourself playing boogey man instead of dress up); they negotiate with teachers and parents. Children do it without questioning the ROI or metrics, it is as natural to them as having a conversation.
Those two little girls reminded me of our “new era” in marketing. We talk about engagement, transparency and conversational marketing but are we really doing it? Have we simply took our fancy corporate branding and toned it down with everyday language or are we really talking to people?
While I am very much in business to make money, I want to do business with other human beings. I want my marketing to talk to and not at people.
If you really want to reach people, then talk to them. Lose the industry jargon and corporate speak and talk to them as though it were just you and them sitting on a stoop on a hot summer day. If you want your messaging to convey authenticity then be real. What would you say one on one in a non-sales situation when asked about your business? Compare that message to what’s on your website and in your printed collateral – how does it match up?
We have fallen into this trap that people will only take you seriously if you use the “right” language. So, we start there and we strip our messages of all humanity and warmth. People are smarter than that, give them a little credit. Talk to them, really talk to them and you may be surprised at how they respond.
Do you find that you describe your business or even job differently in social settings? Are you more natural in social settings? What makes you not use that approach all the time?