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If you’re reading this, you’re likely a marketer who sometimes really hates being marketed to. Chances are you’ve been served annoying ads, sent excessive emails, or simply dealt with being sold products that you don’t like or don’t need. But consider another perspective: Have you ever knowingly or unknowingly run annoying ads, sent excessive emails, or pushed products on customers who weren’t interested in them?
We all know the golden rule: Treat others like you would want to be treated. Yet as marketers, we don’t always practice this. If you wouldn’t want an annoying ad following you around for months, why do it to a potential customer?
Empathy is a virtue in life, but it’s also important in marketing. This especially true as consumers seek to have conversations with brands who can simplify their buying process, not push a hard sell. By approaching digital advertising, branding, and customer service with empathy, you can speak to your customers how they’d like to be spoken to — and drive greater revenue in the process.
Digital advertising: Improve your targeting so your ads are actually helpful
As the only person among my friends and family who works in marketing, I often hear that oh-so-familiar refrain: “I hate ads.” Instead of being insulted, I acknowledge that they don’t actually hate ads, they just hate bad ads that don’t appeal to them, are annoying, or make them worried someone is eavesdropping on their conversations through their phone’s microphone.
When done well and with a hefty dose of empathy, ads can actually provide a wonderful user experience that turns into real revenue. Here’s a real life example: I recently moved apartments and am in full-fledged nesting mode. I have a penchant for traditional rugs, and I desperately wanted one in my bathroom. But I couldn’t exactly use a high pile wool rug as a bath rug — mildew isn’t fun for anyone.
I spent a few days unsuccessfully looking for workarounds for my mildew concerns. And then, I was served a Facebook ad from the online rug retailer, Ruggable. I had never heard of them before, but upon checking out their site, I realized that their product is exactly what I was looking for: Stylish, waterproof, and machine washable. Needless to say, I now have a beautiful Ruggable piece in my bathroom.
I was genuinely happy that this company served me an ad. But in reality, I wasn’t excited about the ad itself — I was excited that I was presented with a solution to my problem in a non-intrusive or pushy way. As a result, I perceived Ruggable to be a credible company with a great product, so I had no qualms about paying a pretty penny for a bath rug.
There’s an important lesson here: The more empathetic your ads come across to potential customers, the better their perception of your brand, their user experience, and their chances for conversion. When you craft your digital advertising campaigns, make sure you approach your targeting with this kind of empathy. While you of course don’t want your scope too narrow, make sure you do what you can to hypertarget your ads to the people most likely to benefit from what you’re selling. Personalized landing pages can also go a long way in making potential customers feel special after they click.
Of course, there is a very fine line between empathetic and creepy or annoying. But as my rug buying example demonstrates, that line comes down to one thing: Helpfulness. If I look at a pair of shoes I really like online and get an ad following me for two weeks? Kind of annoying and not really helpful (though I may buy them anyway). If I make a joke about a chain restaurant to a friend and suddenly have Facebook ads for that chain? Very creepy and not at all helpful. If I have a home decor dilemma and am introduced to a product that solves my problem? Empathetic, helpful, and just right.
Branding: Know your customers as people, not numbers
In digital marketing, we tend to forget that there are two kinds of data: Quantitative and qualitative. The analytics and data science side of marketing focuses pretty exclusively on quantitative, but there’s much to be gleaned from qualitative research as well.
In a previous post about whether or not content is king, I mention a qualitative marketing example I heard from Brad Perry, Director of Strategy at Authentic. Perry had a plumbing supply client that was struggling to get anywhere with social media. It goes without saying that plumbing supply sales is not particularly sexy, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for empathetic marketing and creativity.
Perry’s team decided to truly get to know plumbers, from the names of their tools to inside jokes and beyond. Through this qualitative data, they were able to craft social media posts and graphics that resonated with customers on a deeply personal level. The client was able to not only advertise their products, but also establish themselves as a company that understands their customers’ businesses. Their social media posts vary from commentary on plumbing tools, appreciation for the plumbing profession, and of course funny inside jokes among plumbers themselves (like fool’s errands). And if you’re still interested in numbers, this approach saw a sizeable increase in followers and social media engagement, too.
Whether you’re B2C or B2C, get to know your customers as human beings with personalities, emotions, and senses of humor. In doing so, you can inject your brand with empathy that translates to likeability, trustworthiness, brand value, and of course, revenue.
Customer service: Listen to criticism and take accountability
If you’ve ever encountered someone who can’t take constructive criticism or accountability for their actions, you know how frustrating it can be to keep your cool or want to continue interacting with them.
Your brand is no different when it comes to the not-so-warm-and-fuzzy interactions you will inevitably have with your customers. Whether it’s constructive feedback about your product or a flood of support calls during a software malfunction, no brand is immune to criticism or crisis.
But consumers can be more understanding and forgiving than you may think — as long as you accept their feedback with grace and take accountability when things go wrong. In both cases, transparency is key.
When it comes to feedback on your product or service, it makes sense that your team may get a little defensive—nobody wants to be told that all their hard work wasn’t right or good enough. But at the end of the day, creating the optimal version of your product is the goal—and your customers are actually the perfect people to point out your blind spots. When you view them as helpers for your product development process as opposed to just people you need to please, you can better incorporate their knowledge into your work—and they will thank you for the transparency and interest in what they have to say.
Of course, not all interactions with customers will be pleasant, especially in crisis situations where things break or mistakes are made. While your first line of action is to prevent crises from happening in the first place, you should also respond empathetically when they do happen. You wouldn’t be happy if your data is compromised, your favorite app stops working, or your package gets delayed. So meet your customers with that level of empathy and a willingness to make things right. Sometimes you may find that they’re simply having a bad day, and a little kindness will go a long way for resolving the problem and leaving them with a great impression of your brand.
In today’s data-centric marketing world, don’t forget that there are real people behind your data points. By approaching your marketing strategy from a place of empathy, you can craft exceptional advertising, brand experience, and customer service for your business.
Do you have ideas about how best to make empathy an important part of your next campaign? Head to the CallRail Community to connect with other marketing professionals and share best practices.
By: Lo Kidd, Marketing Intern
One of the greatest appeals to launching your venture is breaking away from the nine-to-five routine. To many, living like an impact-driven entrepreneur means assigning your own hours, tasks and deadlines. However, this flexibility can come with its own set of unique challenges like irregular sleeping schedules, endless to-do lists, and neglected self-care.
Even for entrepreneurs, routine can be a powerful tool that contributes to 45 percent of feeling well-balanced and achieving personal and professional success. Regardless of what your routine may look like, stick to it. You’d be surprised by the self-discipline, accountability, and structure it can create in your life.
Here’s how four SEED SPOT impact-driven entrepreneurs established a routine-free routine to strive for health, happiness, and everyday advancement towards making their dreams a reality.
Michelle Beaman Chang, Founder and CEO of imby
Michelle Beaman Chang runs imby’s hybrid grassroots/digital platform while raising her four year-old daughter and five year-old son “with the help of her husband, awesome childcare, in-laws and neighbors – it takes a village”. imby bridges conversations between the community and real estate developers to create and support responsive, sustainable development. Her work broadens the conversation of changes to rapidly urbanizing neighborhoods to reach busy, civically inclined people who live and work in a community.
“I don’t have a routine – that would be a luxury. Instead I’ve learned to compartmentalize, prioritize, and accept good enough instead of perfect.”
- Wake Up: Anytime between 6 and 7:30 am to go on a 20-minute run (if she has the time for it).
- Breakfast: At least three times a week, she eats eggs with fruit on the side at home with her kids. Otherwise, she grabs whatever is available at Industrious, a co-working space in Washington D.C. where imby’s office is located.
- Check Calendar: “Before bed, in the morning, and throughout the day”, because her schedule varies greatly from day to day.
- Meetings: Scheduled all around the D.C. area with organizational partners, neighborhood ambassadors, real estate professionals, and government officials and staff while staying in constant contact with her team on recent real estate news, partnership growth and the day’s successes.
- Self-Care: While others are buzzing around on her metro ride home, Chang takes time to reflect, read and listen to her favorite podcast: How I Built This. She is “always reading at least three books and listening to a podcast at any given time”.
- Dinner: Like breakfast, Michelle shares dinner with family at home. Otherwise, she eats on the run to ANC meetings or networking events.
- Before Bed: She hopes to be home by her children’s bedtime and read them to sleep. Once they’re asleep, she either answers emails on her laptop or reading one of her nightstand books.
- Fun Fact: Fridays are “religiously family movie and pizza night” in the Beaman Chang household.
Stephanie Schull, CEO of Matter|Mission and Maker of the Kegelbell
Stephanie Schull is a an academic researcher-turned-inventor-and-entrepreneur with a desire to “create things that should have always existed.” Her invention, the Kegelbell, is a natural and radically effective weight training system that helps women to perform an effective kegel, which strengthens their pelvic floors.
“To outsiders, I would have no recognizable work-life balance. But I don’t feel overworked, I feel deeply engaged and growing.”
- Sleep: Consistently gets eight hours of sleep, although the time she heads to bed and wakes up varies greatly from day to day.
- Workout: Her trainer doubles as her personal coach as they discuss business while working out, or she walks alone.
- Dream Big: This is time dedicated to envisioning her larger goals, while recognizing how the smaller details of the upcoming day will contribute to her success.
- Breakfast: A morning must, usually consisting of the same foods for months at a time, while watching a YouTube video related to her research.
- Work: Dedicated to specific tasks for that weekday. For example, Tuesdays are dedicated for all things social, including content creation, blog posts, and social media.
- Breaks: Whether during lunch or time between meetings, breaks are for research, visualizing her goals, or listening to the the Economist audio sessions.
- After Work: At the gym, Schull takes one more opportunity to self-educate or “dream big” while squeezing in a short cardio session before eating dinner with her partner.
- Quality Time: She eats dinner and runs late-night errands with her partner, including grocery shopping or picking up necessities.
- Before Bed: She watches a television show with her partner or reads.
- Fun Fact: Schull believes that being an entrepreneur is really just another way–like exercise or travel–to develop one’s self.
Neel Mehta, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Epifinder
Developed with co-founder Robert Yao, Neel Mehta’s mHealth app prevents epilepsy misdiagnosis by identifying symptoms and aids patients in communicating these symptoms to healthcare professionals. EpiFinder is currently utilized at renowned facilities, including Mayo Clinic, for its time-efficiency and over 87 percent accuracy.
“It’s easier to adapt when your routine is adaption. I probably can’t keep this up in my 50s, but right now I’m fueled by my passion and it’s easy.”
- Alarm: Set between 6 and 10 am.
- Slow Start: Answers only urgent emails before meditating.
- Breakfast: While this isn’t an everyday event, it consists of leftovers or a smoothie while answering emails and scheduling meetings. Mehta’s ideal breakfast would be avocado toast with fruit on the side, a smoothie, and “something warm and fresh!”
- External Work: Neel sets aside three days a week dedicated to external shareholders, investors, etc.
- Me Time: Throughout the 12- to 14-hour workday is time scheduled to breathe, answer emails, and work on the projects Mehta is personally responsible for.
- Internal Work: Neel prioritizes in-person collaboration with his 23-person team because an office “physically brings [his] team together in a world which is moving apart”.
- Self Care: He loves to travel, hike and practice yoga in his leisure time.
- Unwind: Eats dinner and watches an episode of what Mehta calls “business TV”– a favorite is ABC’s Shark Tank— before bed.
- Sleep: He meets the recommended 49 to 63 hours each week, but not by sleeping seven to nine hours every night.
- Fun Fact: Mehta is also an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University, College of Nursing and Health Innovation.
Jen Cole, Founder and Executive Director of Young Artist Society
Jen Cole seeks to expand students’ relationships with entrepreneurship, themselves and the world around them through music. Young Artist Society utilizes her proprietary music entrepreneurship curriculum to “empower future generations to pursue education, serve their community and achieve success creatively.”
“I work long days and take on big projects, but I take several weeks off to rejuvenate throughout the year and experience cultures of the world.”
- Morning: Starting early, Jen sets aside time to meditate and read her daily reminders, including her goals, pledges to herself and inspirational quotes. She then makes tea or coffee before getting her day going.
- Breakfast: A few bites of whatever is easiest and ready to go, whether this is a granola bar, a banana or just caffeine.
- School: Wake up her niece and two nephews, then get everyone ready, fed and to their three separate schools on time.
- Work Tasks: Scheduled over irregular hours, ranging from maintaining relationships with stakeholders to handling daily operations to planning fundraisers.
- Self-Care: Yoga, meals shared with family and friends, and calls to empathize and share ideas with fellow entrepreneurs.
- Play Time: After work and homework are finished, Cole chases after and plays games with her niece (age 11) and nephews (ages 7 and 3) before the children’s bedtime.
- Read for Pleasure: Anything that is “not the news or for work,” even if just for a few minutes.
- Bedtime: Around midnight-ish.
- Fun Fact: Cole loves to ask her niece and nephews their thoughts on complex subjects because she finds the answers to be both hilarious and profound.
Although impact-driven entrepreneurs may not have a standardized workday, their work and hours are just as demanding, if not more so, than the nine-to-five. Their work requires strategic time management, work-life balancing skills, constant self-educating and persistence toward their desired impact. The main takeaway? “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Start your entrepreneurial journey today!
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Ways to Make It Easier for Your Channel Partners to Sell More of Your Product Faster
The best way to succeed in channel sales is by arming your channel partners with the right tools, resources, and skills to be able to sell your products easily and quickly. The question is: How do you do this?
Here are five ways to ensure your channel partners have everything they need to successfully sell and grow your (and their) business:
1. Offer the Right Training and Tools
From the moment you start onboarding new channel partners, the goal should be to give them everything they need to sell your product effectively. You must deliver dynamic self-service training, access to partner portals where they can find collateral and resources, and access to the tools that will drive lead management, sales automation, content distribution, and more. With a powerful partner relationship management (PRM) system, onboarding and training become a seamless part of your channel partnership program. Lastly, provide your channel partners with a margin calculator so they can understand the difference between manufacturing costs, the price to the consumer, and how the total product margin is distributed among all channel partners.
2. Deliver the Value Proposition
For your channel partners to sell your product or service successfully and with zeal, they need to have a good understanding of your value proposition. Channel partners will ask what is in it for them, and you have to be prepared to answer by understanding their unique business model and how they—and your business—can truly benefit. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, because channel partners will see right through it. Let them know how your product or service stands out from the rest, which will make the partnership valuable for everyone involved. Here are a few tips:
- Clearly explain what your product or service is and does—don’t use buzzwords or industry jargon.
- Describe the core problems that your product or service solves, who your competition is, and how your company stands out from the rest.
- Give them a peek at your future plans, and keep them in the loop so they feel like an extended part of your internal team. Better yet, ask them for their input.
Once you’ve delivered a convincing, honest value proposition, provide your partners with the resources that will enable them to take that proposition to the end user.
3. Enable Through Collateral
One of the most powerful ways to make it easier for your channel partners to sell your product quickly is to ensure they have a deep and rich library of assets and collateral—both internal and external. For internal assets, consider providing the following:
- Documented sales processes
- White papers
- Templates for sales proposals
For cobranding and marketing collateral, consider providing:
- Product information
- Sales templates
- Fact sheets
Giving your channel partners these assets will ensure that they are properly marketing your product or service. This is crucial for maintaining a sense of control in the sales process and for creating consistency, so that the right message gets across, no matter who the channel partner is.
4. Incentivize to Sell
Incentivizing the sales process can motivate your partners to work faster and more intelligently. With a PRM tool, you can determine, measure, and evaluate important sales performance indicators in order to reward your channel partners.
5. Keep Partners Informed
In order to make your product or service as easy to sell as possible, be sure to regularly evaluate and assess what is working for your channel partners and end users and what isn’t. This will allow you to coach your partners and provide them with any additional training and tools they may need. Also, by regularly updating your channel partners on campaigns and promotions, you will ensure that they deliver your product or service to market quickly and easily. What’s the best way to do this? By implementing a robust PRM solution with an easy-to-use dashboard that delivers a central point of access for all levels of an organization.
With a robust PRM solution, you can make it easier and more efficient for your channel partners to sell your product or service. If you’re ready to help your channel partners sell more quickly and easily, listen to The Allbound Podcast #44: Sunir Shah—Partners Are Customers of Your Partner Team.