Labels, we love them, don’t we? Humans seem to have this need to categorize everyone and everything. Once we slap a label on something we then fall all over ourselves to differentiate what we’ve labeled and we even resort to what at best can be called embellishing, to more starkly define those differences.
Labels reassure us but make us blind for the reality behind them. And they divide the world in easy-to-understand categories that we can compare, claim, criticize or embrace. In real life. And in business.
Take marketing “channels” such as email and social for example. Sometimes advocates for social media and email remind me of a panic stricken drowning man who tries to push his buddy under in order to climb up and save himself. I’m not suggesting social is drowning of course, I’m simply attempting to paint a bit of a picture here.
Promoting one channel over any other by pointing out the short comings is counterproductive. It’s kind of like choosing Miss Universe by virtue of how effective she is at describing how much uglier her competitors are. This approach (sadly) is an established tactic in politics, but using this tactic to advocate any channel over another should be a flag that the person employing it has very few bullets in their gun.
Social media and email are channels for people to be social in. Anytime two humans interact it’s social, period end of sentence.
Marketers must stop thinking about channels as different and start seeing the world with a wider view. Knock down the silos! Rip off the labels and stomp on them! As soon as you try to categorize something, your vision starts to narrow and you lose perspective.
Sometimes it seems we have enough social media gurus out there to fill up a football stadium. Some peddle easy solutions and promise absolute salvation waits if you focus on social and not email or a traditional channel such as broadcast. Don’t you believe it!
Digital business requires automation but no robots
Why? Because people today are cross-channel animals. The days of one media channel such as TV dominating their attention are over. People know they have the power of choice and they exercise that power at every opportunity.
The real challenge for marketers today is tracking all those channels, combining them to offer relevance and personalizing the interactions. Most of us would likely prefer those interactions to be human-to-human, but that is getting progressively more difficult just due to volume and pace.
Using automation to support your interactions and touch points with customers is going to become more and more vital. Automation in this regard isn’t about replacing people with robots. It’s about adopting a strategy which allows your customers to choose how they interact with you and allowing you to better target the resources you need to initiate and nurture your relationships with them.
All the rest is about personality, authenticity, value and moving from those triggered, automated, social, non-social, direct, indirect, one-way, two-way, anyway touch points, that are merely opportunities to briefly connect and interact, to business relationships.
Online, offline, whateverline. By being human, earning trust, thinking emotion, delivering relevance, listening and seeing people instead of users, consumers, suspects, prospects, subscribers, fans, followers, Klout scores, digital natives, early adopters and all the other labels we like to use to understand. Sure, we must differentiate, identify, segment and target.
But we shouldn’t label so much. And that goes for channel and people. Good customer experience, service, value and respect go for everyone, remember the long tail.
And the human-to-human? Let’s bring that back in real life, shall we? Including our digital life that is now part of who we are.
Now, how are YOU doing today?