Your customers don’t have a clue that you are holding an event in your store, that you offered them a discount, and that you now carry their favorite product in black. You told them. It was in your status. You tweeted it twice.
What? Are they not reading?
No! They aren’t. They don’t care if they pass a reading comprehension test on your products. Just because you broadcast your message doesn’t mean you connect.
Who is responsible for the sad lack of customer connection?
You Are Not My Teacher
A colleague told me recently about her husband switching jobs from college teacher to high school teacher. The biggest surprise for him is the expectation that HE is now responsible for what his high school students understand.
This idea has been a shock to my communications system. As a college teacher, he made information available to his students, and they were responsible to read and understand. They did have to pass tests of comprehension. Now that he is teaching high school, his students’ knowledge is understood by his supervisors as a test of him and his teaching.
Hearing this story, it dawned on me that I assume a listener’s responsibility for comprehension. I certainly do with my husband and children. My background is that of a university teacher. I didn’t accept student excuses that they didn’t understand when information was right in front of them. I tend to think that if I’ve told someone once or twice or three times, they should get it. I hate to be told twice, because I remember what I’m told.
This story was a bit of a slap.
“Oh, no!” I thought. “I’m assuming my customers will listen to me AND that they will understand.”
That isn’t how marketing works, though. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are a customer’s teacher—or mother.
Your Message, Your Responsibility
The marketer holds all of the responsibility for effective communication. If you want your customer to know that you carry a particular product and you mentioned it five times in your newsletter and on Facebook and a few times on Twitter and they still don’t know, you tell them again.
I think you risk losing a customer like me when you repeat a message over and over, because I pay attention. I find that kind of repetition tiresome, but it only matters how your target customer takes in information. If you are trying to sell me something, tell me twice then try another approach. How will you know if that is true of your intended audience?
How will you know if you’ve connected?
Track how the tide of likes and unlikes flows. Watch your unfriends.
If you keep an editorial calendar, archive it. Note unsubscriptions and shares. Check for relationships between topic trends and the ups and downs of your contacts.
And, of course, ask your customers. The beauty of social engagement is that there are so many ways to check in with your customers and future customers. If you ask them whether you connected, they may tell you—either directly or by their silence.
In a classroom, I would still expect high school students to reach out for their own learning. In a collaborative or cooperative organization, I would expect those involved to take responsibility for information they receive. As I tell my own homeschooled children, they will get out of it what they put into it.
Marketing is not collaborative, and you do not have a captive audience. You as a marketer are responsible for making the connection with your customers. They have no obligation to you.
Customer engagement is all on you.