Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Are You Offering Content Or Enabling Contact?

People can get information anywhere, anytime, immediately, for free.

But that’s the thing.

We don’t need more access to information – we need more access to each other.

IN SHORT: Contact is the new content.

Which doesn’t make information irrelevant.

But contact offers an unquantifiable humanness that content can’t provide. And if your brand fails to deliver that interaction in addition to the information people need, customers will quickly switch to another brand that will.

Here’s how to install a greater sense of approachability, both online and offline, in your organization’s daily life:
1. Give everything a recognizable human touch. Lately I’ve been receiving messages from readers, followers and customers asking if my responses are actually from me, or just some robot disguised as me.

This trend is baffling. Not because people assume I’ve delegated my contact to a machine, but because there are people out there who actually do that. And customers are sick of it. The fact that people even wonder whether or not responses are automated should be enough of warning sign.

I find this detachment from humanity to be embarrassing. In the great game of business, what matters is how you talk to your customers. What matters is your unique way of interacting with people. And that matters is how they experience themselves in relation to you. Don’t outsource the human function. Make sure soul has a palpable presence in your contact efforts. Does your brand give more credence to computers or humans?

2. Provide information plus interaction. Content is great for deepening awareness, but only through contact can you deepen an emotional connection. Only through contact can you truly resonate with the soul of another human being. And whether it’s in person, over the phone or online, here’s the formula:

Create simple, inclusive, accessible, relevant and human encounters that change the momentary experience of engaging with your brand.

Here are a few examples to consider:

*Are you providing people with opportunities to participate, like making blog comments open to the public?
*Are you creating invitations to act and engage with your brand, like running contests on social media platforms?
*Are you creating acts of intimacy in moments of distance, like encouraging clients to upload picture of themselves joyfully using what you sell?

I hope so. Because content without contact is conartistry. What act will you deliver to draw people into the deeper meaning of what your brand does?

3. Shock people with your love. According to a study by the Customer Contact Council, about ten percent of Comcast’s service calls have nothing to do with their products. To leverage this asset, the company recently launched a help service for residential customers.

And now, for a fee, customers can receive help with problematic wireless gaming consoles, personal computers, tablets, smartphones, and networking equipment – none of which are actually Comcast products.

This is the kind of contact you can’t put a price on. The kind of contact worth crossing the street for. And if your brand wants to deliver the same, think about what underleveraged assets you might be able to exploit. Think about what populations of readers, customers or subscribers you might be able to attend to in a delightfully shocking way.

Escort them with your love and watch the fireworks begin. After all, content is a commodity – but contact is a communion. How does your brand deliver unexpected value?

4. Contact plus content equals conquest. As a writer and publisher, content will always be core to my enterprise. But what I’m starting to discover is that the speed of the response is the response.

What I’m starting to learn is that when you’re genuinely and assertively responsive, the medium us the message. Especially in a commoditized marketplace when service is the key differentiator, contact is the primary victory. Contact is the asset that paves the way for future interactions.

Without it, you’re just another content provider who takes forever to provide impatient customers with a human being who speaks in a human voice that solves human problems. Think of it as digital approachability. Keeping the virtual loop open.

Because if you’re not able to solve your people’s problem right away, providing consistent assurance that you’re on the case preserves their sense of control. Do you get back to your customers faster than your competitors, or does information stand in the way of engaging with the people who matter?

5. Information is not a replacement for interaction. Wearing a nametag everyday for a decade changes your behavior: It keeps you accountable, keeps you honest and keeps you true to who you are. That’s why I no longer litter, rarely act like a jerk and never pretend to be someone I’m not.

In the same vein, the greatest advantage of online technology is the ability to connect instantly – but the greatest danger is the option to do so anonymously. And that’s the caveat to contact: Making sure you do without collapsing your identity.

You have to keep your digital nametag on, or you’re going to get yourself into trouble. Because when you retreat into depersonalization and namelessness, you take less responsibility for what you do and say.

On the other hand, when you resist the temptation to engage from a place of anonymity, your actions are more accountable and more human. It all depends on how vulnerable you’re willing to make yourself. Will you stick yourself out there or surrender to the status of anonymous?

REMEMBER: If content is king, contact is queen.

It’s no longer enough to be a content provider – you also have to be a contact enabler.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you giving people more information or more interaction?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "11 Ways to Out Market Your Competitors," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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