There are a lot of things in marketing that we try to automate as much as possible, as well we should. If it doesn’t have to be done manually, and there’s a software solution capable of doing it for you, why wouldn’t you assign your creative resources to more important initiatives?
But there’s one area in particular that will always require a human touch, even if a computer can do it more efficiently. Because in this sphere, connection trumps efficiency every time.
I’m talking about relationship marketing, which should be a core part of every company’s social media strategy.
One Passenger at a Time
In a recent blog post for Workfront, Ted Rubin shared a story of a woman who was travelling home from vacation on JetBlue airlines. From her seat on the plane, she tweeted about how she wished her vacation wasn’t over and how great it would be to be greeted by a parade when she landed.
Her wish came true.
How? Because JetBlue was listening—and its employees were empowered to not only act, but to act immediately.
Wait, you may be thinking, even if we pulled off something like that for one customer every single week of the year, that’s still only 52 individuals reached. Is this really the best use of our time and resources?
Yes, Rubin would argue, it is the best use of some of your time and some of your resources. This kind of direct, spontaneous relationship marketing can help you build and sustain your reputation. Rubin says:
“I like to say that a brand is what a business does; a reputation is what people remember and share. The keyword here is ‘share’. All of these people share. Even if they’re not on social media, they have friends, they have families, they have colleagues, they belong to the PTA. They are going to tell people. Everybody loves to share great experiences.”
Three Tips for Better Relationship Marketing
Rubin’s post goes on to share three ways to harness the power of your people in your relationship marketing efforts. And yes, each of these ideas fundamentally relies on the human touch:
Real listening requires real human ears. “Even with software, it’s gonna be hard to hear everything,” Rubin says, “because most software just picks up hashtags or pick up keywords. They don’t necessarily pick up the conversation.”
2. Empower Your Employees
“There can’t be five levels of approval,” Rubin says. “There can’t be budgetary constraints to such a degree that you can’t just have a few people meet someone at a plane, or send them a note, or leave a note in their hotel room welcoming them there. These are really simple things you can do if you listen.”
3. Build it into Your Processes
You don’t need a vast army to pull this off successfully. At a very large corporation, a tiny but empowered team can be sufficient. At a small company, even having one employee devoting a few hours a week to listening efforts will spark helpful insights and opportunities to connect.
The Human Touch
Decades ago, brands would have done anything to have our current level of direct access to customers and prospects. As marketers, are we squandering the small and simple chances that are right in front of us every day? Take the time to utterly delight some customers, one-on-one, at least some of the time—and you’ll build the kind of reputation that can only be built with human hands.