"When given the choice, people will always spend their time around people they like. When it's expedient and practical, they'd also rather do business with and buy stuff from people they like. And now, they can."
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If you haven’t met Gary Vaynerchuk yet, do yourself a favour and seek him out. It won’t be too hard to do. As author of New York Times bestseller Crush It!, owner and host of winelibrarytv and future owner of the NY Jets (his words), Gary’s everywhere. He has close to 1 million followers on Twitter, is showcased regularly on MSNBC, highly sought after for speaking circuits around the world, and has made appearances on Conan, Ellen and Jim Kramer’s Mad Money. Gary’s a dynamic personality, a larger than life visionary of the online world and one of the most crass public speakers who’ll ever share the stage with the likes of Seth Godin. (Check out last year’s interview with him if you don’t believe me.) He’s also brilliant. (His brilliance is better displayed in this year’s interview)
For all his bravado and strong talk, Gary has an extraordinarily keen sense of what’s happening (and is going to happen) in our digital world. In his sophomore book, The Thank You Economy, Gary dives deep into what he knows, and makes it accessible for the rest of us.
More relaxed and perhaps more polished than Crush It, but with no less passion, The Thank You Economy hammers home the very clear message that today’s consumer is looking for more than a product or service and, if we want to stay successful now and in the future, we had damn well better give it to them.
The Big Idea
Transaction or Relationship?
"People want to have close relationships with their brands. It still sounds a little weird today, but one day it won't. The right time to start building those relationships is right now."
How do your customers view you? Did they buy from you because you were the cheapest? Or because of something more?
Gone are the days of captive audiences and solo retailers. People have choice now; an unprecedented level of choice. So much choice, as Sheena Iyengar pointed out in our recent interview with her, that it can, at times, be overwhelming. And so, consumers are looking for relationships. They want to build identity through their brand, and the products/services that they use. Your customers are more than a number in your balance sheet and they want to be treated as such. Making them feel special requires work.
But here’s the good news. When your customers feel appreciated – when they consider their relationship with you to be more than a simple transaction – they get loyal. Fast. They’ll stick with you through thick and thin, and be willing to forgive your occasional slip up. As long as you’re authentic, transparent, and willing to admit when you’re wrong (and then make up for it), those individual transactions can turn into long term customer relationships, with the recipients not only buying more from you (and more often), but acting as your ambassadors as well. There’s very real ROI (return on investment) in that for you, and is not to be taken lightly.
So, build relationships.
"If you're going to launch a campaign, it has to be one that evokes an emotion - positive or negative - so that people feel compelled to share. Give them something to talk about, unleash the power of word of mouth, and allow them to pull you into their consciousness."
Step one of building customer relationships is remembering that these are people we’re talking about. Human beings. Creatures with emotions, opinions, and a desire to be a part of something larger than themselves. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling toothpaste, cars, or insurance, when you decide to make a stand on something – to really take a side – you’re going to get people talking. You certainly don’t want to be causing waves for the sake of it, but there is real value in telling the world what you stand for. People listen to passion, and it’s better to be polarizing than it is to attempt to make everyone happy.
The next time you’re sharing your message, be it through a marketing campaign, a public announcement, or a thank you email you send your customers, don’t be afraid to be bold. Authentic. Genuine. With a real desire to support your loyal customers. But bold.
Both ends of the spectrum
"Joie de Vivre has figured out that it's the big and the little stuff that matter most to building a brand's identity. The stuff in the middle is important for a company's survival, of course, but it's the one-on-one initiatives that lie at either extreme - the nit-picky details and the big, grand gestures - that make an impact, and make people talk."
In a great case study on Chip Conley’s Joie de Vivre Hotel chain, Vaynerchuk touches on a crucial point: it’s the ends of the customer service spectrum that really makes companies stand out. It’s the attention to detail and the big, bold moves. Yes, you need shorter wait times on hold. Of course, your staff should be clean, courteous, and efficient. But great companies understand that this “stuff in the middle” is essential just to survive, not to thrive. Great companies go beyond – they personalize the experience for their customers by giving them exactly what they want (and not what market research shows they want). Little touches and big gestures. Fortune favours the bold.
I love Vaynerchuk’s books. The passion virtually leaps off the page, tempered by a great awareness of the digital landscape. The Thank You Economy is a great wakeup call and reminder to all of us – while we may play and work in a digital world, we live in a physical one, full of wonderful people who are just waiting for companies, products, and services that they can claim as their very own. Give them an opportunity to support you and connect with you, and you’ll be constantly surprised by the goodness of people.