Keeping in Touch in a Meaningful Way

11 Mar

Ironic that this long, unexplained blogging absence takes place just before my next scheduled blog topic is entitled “keeping in touch.” Right? I mean it makes the point that keeping in touch is tough! It takes time and effort. So, you got me. I get it. I’m not so great at keeping in touch. One of my best friends from high school came to visit me this weekend. What a blessing. Another long time dear friend hasn’t had a returned call from me in months. She knows I love her, but that’s unacceptable behavior if a friendship is going to continue to grow. Keeping in touch is not an easy thing. However, let me go ahead and make the case for its importance, because our most successful clients are GREAT at keeping in touch and it makes a big difference.

Keep in touch. That’s one thing. Keeping in touch in a meaningful way. That might be another. Here are three quick considerations for being great at meaningful marketing communications.
1. Be real. It’s working well for clients and even celebrities to let their personal side show in social media. Keeping in touch with a network audience with small insights into our lives may seem awkward at first, but the staggering statistics of traffic on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and more prove to us that users like getting the inside scoop on you and your organization. There are good ways to post and not so great ways to post, for sure. That’s a blog for another day. Once you get over the initial awkward “I don’t need the world to know every bit of my life or business,” feelings and you jump out there with something interesting to people, you’ll start to see it’s not so hard. Everyone has their own social media personality. Some post frequent sarcasms. Some brag on others (their kids, their favorite businesses, colleagues). Some only creep – reading everything that’s posted and never commenting, liking or sharing so it’s as if they were never there. No trail left behind. Just creeping in silence. Some never make their own posts but they like and comment on everyone else’s lives, photos and events. Find your way and keep it real, with just the right touch of vulnerability so people know you are to be trusted and get an idea of the full dimension of you. For a business, you might highlight members of your team. You might include some testimonials. You might mention a “lesson learned.” It’s good that they see the real sides of you, not just the polished, pre-approved marketing messages you’ll use on brochures & tradeshow graphics.
2. Relevance and timeliness go together. The first part of being relevant is knowing the content and your audience well enough to speak to the heart of the matter. Timeliness is often a crucial aspect of being relevant. Be where they are. If your audience is full of Chamber of Commerce groupies, then support those causes and don’t be shy about your mission. If your audience is conservative and family oriented, supporting churches and schools will help you be seen and trusted; making it easier for you to find that common thread of interest and relevance to what matters most to them. Following up on a great conversation you had with so & so within the week that you have it is also going to be better received than a note a year later “remember when…”, although both are better than no note at all. Pay attention to what matters TO THEM and that will help you package your marketing as relevant to them. Then, follow up regularly on these ideas, leads and areas of interest so your timeliness and relevance pack the right formula for a relationship to begin or deepen. The key to this is KNOWING THEM. I have Google Alerts set up for some people in my life so I can follow them, their business or an issue in their industry and send them notes or links of interest. They love that I’m paying attention and caring. The second key is KEEPING UP. It’s one thing to pay attention and another to take a step and engage. Even the most outgoing person can feel shy about such a thing, but people want to be loved and heard and cared about so – go ahead – reach out and follow through with that meaningful contact.
3. Schedule time until a habit forms. If you have a hard time keeping up with follow through and getting in touch with people who work with you or with customers/vendors/media who need to hear from you often, schedule time, make lists and build tools to enable that process. Treat this like a system in your day that must be nurtured. Make a database of contacts you can comb through and then schedule time to do that combing. Allow someone on your team to read and clip media or grab links that might be interesting in your industry to those you care about and then, when they turn those findings in to you, forward that timely information along to your list and track it so you have it handy in the future if it’s mentioned again. I have a family friend who owns a bar and he read about how many days it takes to form a habit. He wanted his recently new bar/restaurant to be the hang out place for a certain group of people. So, he built plans to incentivize them to come into his bar every day for 30 days. By that time, it was part of their schedule and a routine they’d grown accustomed to – not to mention the interdependence they’d formed with one another. That group still comes into his establishment regularly and has set the tone for the type of clientele he continues to attract. While it may concern you that people are going to the bar every day (another blog topic… 😉 ), the point is well taken. You must train yourself to pay attention and establish a system for keeping in touch well.

So, here’s a dare for you. 1. Think of the five people who matter the most to you, personally. Write them an old fashioned letter and tell them why they’re so important in your life. Deliver that. 2. Think of the individuals who have mentored you, used your product/service or inspired you in some way professionally. Get in touch in the way that will be the most relevant for them and tell them how much you appreciate them. Gift lover – get a gift; word smith – write a note; twitter head – tweet ‘em. 3. Schedule one hour each week to start a “get in touch list. Add these contacts to your list and continue adding to it. Follow through, building systems along the way.

Yes, I’m taking the dare too.

:: Love ya’ll. Happy 2nd Quarter 2013 (yikes!) ::

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