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Hey, Have You Noticed Business Is Getting Informal?

In my first job writing print publications for General Motors I caused a stir by dropping the use of courtesy titles. My, how far we have come since then! If you feel like business communication is much less formal these days, you are right. The trend has only been fueled by the pandemic.

People expect businesses, government, and every organization they interact with to get real, be transparent and have a personality. Regular headlines about consumers calling on businesses to take a stand on a wide range of issues is proof enough. Millennials are famous for wanting to be able to relate to brands, but they are not alone.

Today’s Brands Need a Personality

Authenticity strengthens connections between businesses and people. This impacts everything from what we say to how and where we say it. Expectations for everything to be polished and tight are gone – a video taken with a cell phone can have as much impact as a professionally scripted and  produced commercial.

Your customer expects you to express things your way and to connect with them in a way that is relevant and unique. Being personable is the way to create relationships with your audience.

Be Real

It is time to stop wordsmithing press releases and to put aside jargon. Put away the thesaurus.

Communicate like each person who comes across your content is next to you having a conversation. Use the same words. Reflect your thinking in a way that helps them understand your perspective in big and small contexts.

It’s OK to make announcements on social media. It’s fine to show less-than-polished views inside your business. It’s great to talk about topics because you know they are important to your customer.

In fact, these things are expected. Businesses that meet people in these ways are poised to succeed.

Research Shows COVID Impacts on Buying

Online paymentNumerator has been providing continued analysis on consumer behavior and sentiment during the pandemic by conducting ongoing surveys of shoppers.

As COVID-19 cases are rising across the country, shopping behaviors are changing.

  • More than half of consumers are eating and drinking at home more frequently (56%)
  • People are going out to restaurants and bars less frequently (60%)
  • 51% of consumers have increased their use of online shopping
  • 52% have decreased how much they shop in person at stores

What Changes Will Stick?

Consumers say they expect these behaviors to stick. What will really happen will only be known over time.

Asked what they will do when COVID restrictions end, Numerator found:

  • 26% say they will continue to eat and drink at home more frequently
  • 23% expect to shop online more frequently
  • 18% will continue using click-and-collect / buy online pick-up in-store services more
Marketers need to stop waiting for it to be over so things can get back to what “normal” was pre-pandemic. People have changed.

Plan for Things to Stay the Same

When asked how long they expect it to take before they can return to normal activities, about a third of people said they anticipated 6-12 months and another third thought it would take a year or more.

People have largely moved on from thinking that COVID is a blip on the radar. They see it as something that will last a while, so they see changes in their behaviors as being long term rather than temporary.

Marketers need to help consumers to navigate these changes. Those that do will likely generate connections that will last long past COVID restrictions.

Social Media Marketing, Emphasis on the Social

Social Media MarketingIf 2020 has taught us anything it is that online is important for more than just transactional selling. It is a viable and effective place to make connections, build relationships and develop engagement with our brands. All businesses need a social media marketing strategy that puts emphasis on the social.

Social media has an important role to play for every business. During COVID shutdowns more than ever we saw that social media serves a window on the world. It is an important place that we connect as people, even when we can’t connect in person.

Your marketing needs to honor and elevate this need for connectedness. Our brands need to be social. We need to connect with people as people, not just revenue sources.

How to Market on Social Media

Build relationships. Use social media to connect, build relationships and communicate. Ask your network how they are doing. Ask for their thoughts and ideas. Acknowledge the world beyond your brand and the stresses as well as the celebrations we have in common.

Be empathetic. Show that you care about things beyond what is immediately important to your brand. Share a funny meme, just because. React to what your network posts. Create moments of community.

Be transparent. Don’t try to hide your motivations. When you are looking to sell, be honest that is what you are doing. When you are promoting something because it benefits you, be open about that too. Your honesty is integral to your relationship building online.

Plan for Success

With the principles of relationship marketing in mind, create your social media marketing plan. Don’t think you will remember all these important elements. Don’t leave your success to chance.

Develop a written plan to guide you day to day, week to week. A plan ensures that you implement all your good ideas using best practices. It defines your goal and how you will measure progress.