You’re not an asshole. You’re just trying so hard to be one. Please refrain from having a Christian Bale flip-out just yet. If you’ve seen The Social Network, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. At the end of the movie, Mark Zuckerberg’s lawyer comforts him by saying, “You’re not an asshole, Mark. You’re just trying so hard to be one.” This is a pivotal statement in the movie, and also a perfect lead-in for one of the biggest mistakes some of us make in trying to communicate with viewers online.
Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe you’re trying too hard to engage?
You’re probably wondering, why would I want to know poor methods of communication? Well, because there are thousands of companies out there right now that are making the same mistake, and chances are you’re either doing business with them or you are one of them.
The bottom line: there are some ideas for effective communication floating around that should be put in a straight jacket and thrown in a padded room, never to see the light of day. In other words, these new theories on how to engage your customers and connect them to your brand are certifiably nuts.
Com·mu·ni·ca·tion: What is it good for?
How do you communicate? Seems like a very simple question. Yuo cmmounictae yb opnenig yuro motuh adn tlakign. The letters can be scrambled but you’ll still understand the concept because you’re familiar with how the words are supposed to look and sound, and obviously what they mean. However, familiarity is not always a good thing, especially with the overall design and content of your landing page. You communicate through your design and what is written across your page. How do you know what 6 billion people want to hear? How do you appeal to mass of people who all have completely different interests, past experiences, and beliefs?
It’s impossible, and that’s why we narrow it down. But, even narrowing it down isn’t personal at all. You can’t communicate to even a group of 10 and hope that they’ll believe a word you say. You’ve never even had a single interaction with these people, so how could you actually know what they want?
That’s why we should let them create their own unique experience and not try to tell them what they need or want. If you think about cell phone apps, they have the right idea using interactivity and straight forward design. What’s stopping us from designing our page like apps? Simple, task-accommodating, and interactive. Think about it.
If you’re to take away one thing from this post, it should be the following quote. Apply it to your web design, marketing strategies, content creation, and even the way you do business.
“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years by making other people interested in you.” –Dale Carnegie
Zuckerburg’s lawyer was spot on. Trying too hard is going to backfire. Build your website with the mindset of not trying so hard to make your customers interested. But, be interested in your customer. How do we go about that?
Set your buzzwords free, and let your product do the talking. Quality, convenience, and zero bullshit. Isn’t that how you want it? So why wouldn’t your customers? Start with how you view your brand and how you view your customers. Some of the top creative agencies are doing it all wrong. Here’s how they view their customers…
“Good brands are like people.” “Brands are people.” “Brands need to emulate people.” “People need brands.”
These companies need to get off their high horse already and realize that brands are not people, at all. And, the more you try to make them like people, the more you are hurting your brand. So maybe you need to check yourself into brand rehab, and realize it’s not all about the brand.
I know, I know…but look at my stats! Everyone loves their stats, and if your whacked out ‘brands are people, people are brands’ theory is working out for you, congratulations you’ve successfully referred to your customers as a running number, and life of your brand will be short-lived.
Faking The Sale
Ask not what your customer can do for your brand, but what your brand can do for your customer?
The common sales tactic of putting everything you’ve got to offer on the table is becoming all too familiar. We are trying way too hard to connect with our customers. Why not let them do the connecting?
It’s similar to going on a blind date. How you present yourself is everything. If you talk too much about yourself or try too hard to impress your date, they are going to be uninterested. No one wants to be bombarded, and the same goes for the presentation of your website or landing page.
Instead of focusing entirely on your brand, we should focus more on the viewer and the ways they can connect with your landing page or website. You’ll build a relationship by not trying to build a relationship. Reverse psychology at its finest.
Good Ol’ Fashioned Advertising
Think about all the brands you use on a daily basis. For you, the best part of waking may be a fresh cup of Folger’s coffee. Your bathroom cabinets may be stocked with patriotic-colored tubes of Crest toothpaste. Or perhaps, you get rid of your 5 o’clock shadow with Barbasol shaving cream—because that’s always what your dad used. Why these brands? Because you’ve always used them? Because they’re reliable? Because they serve their basic purpose?
Nowadays, we see gum commercials with sexual connotations—“Dirt mouth? Clean it up!” And deodorant commercials that claim you can win over women with the alluring scent of your antiperspirant. I have to admit some of these are clever and funny, but it’s nearly impossible to cut through the clutter, and the life cycle of these brands normally doesn’t make it past the honeymoon stage.
Do you want to be in it for the long run?
You can, but you need to know how to properly communicate online. Gmail, Video Chat, Texting, Facebook, FourSquare. Methods of communication are only getting creepier and crazier. We are able to find out all about a person’s buying behavior. Plus, we now have multiple ways to reach them. Sounds like a pretty personal conversation. Has technology completely de-personalized our lives or simply made communication much easier? It all depends.
Want to know one of the best ways to communicate? I’ve got three words for you… User-generated feedback. Let your customers start the conversation and watch your brand and relationship grow. Haste makes waste my friend, so make sure you respond quickly. And, remember that quickly nowadays means freakishly fast!