In an age of constant scrolling and swiping, capturing someone’s attention with an advertisement is becoming increasingly difficult. Making a lasting impression is, understandably, an even more challenging feat. How can a business generate long-term recognition, loyalty, and impact among its customer base in such a fleeting environment?
Contact Holds are key. A Contact Hold is that unique moment of human connection between a business and its customer. When a customer connects directly to the human beings behind the company, when they can read a logo and visualize a distinct face with friendly features and an open expression, when they catch a glimpse of the real people who work hard everyday to build a unique relationship with them, they experience a Contact Hold. These instants of interpersonal contact imprint deeply on a consumer’s memory, and they hold onto these experiences far longer than any catchphrase or banner, no matter how catchy.
The importance of Contact Holds is often overlooked because its impact is difficult to measure. They may not necessarily result in direct sales, and you can’t track if a Contact Hold leads someone to your landing page. However, they help construct a lasting image that greatly impacts a company’s brand. They inspire brand loyalty and customer investment in the product or service. What’s more, positive Contact Holds have the potential to incite good reviews. Seeing as 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, good reviews can go a long way in increasing your customer base, and therefore will likely generate sales indirectly over time.
We often hear how social media distances community and isolates individuals. Advertisements are usually seen as part of this problem rather than a potential aid. However, marketing offers an opportunity to connect on a personal level with the people behind the profiles. With direct targeting, your advertisements can speak to people’s interests, start a discourse, build a relationship and hopefully bring the social interaction back into social media. Your social media strategy should never be to just show a picture of a product and ask people to spend money on it. You should build a community centered around common interests, a community engaged in mutual interactions and linked together by your product.
A great way to begin building a community is to join one that already exists. There are Facebook and LinkedIn groups for every possible sector of the workforce. There are groups for marketers, fashion designers, entrepreneurs, and on and on. Find a group in your field and join the community. Engage in ongoing discussions, and if you are able to contribute input that intrigues other members, you will begin to build a following. Becoming an active, productive member of Facebook and LinkedIn groups allows your company to speak directly to its customer base, putting your unique personality on display.
When posting in a Facebook or LinkedIn group, there are some dos and some don’ts. Posting countless pages of your own content in shameless self-promotion will not help you make friends in the group and therefore will not lead to any meaningful Contact Holds. Instead, try giving constructive feedback on posts, posing discussion prompts, and contributing to ongoing conversations. In other words, engage in the community like any other member would. Of course you can post your own content sometimes, but frame it as helpful advice or industry tips to maintain your status as a contributing member of the group.
Facebook and LinkedIn are not the only platforms where you can create personal connections with your customers; Twitter, too, is key. Twitter can serve as an essential tool in creating your company’s personable voice. It’s the perfect platform to comment and share your own views on trending topics to gain relevant followers and become a thought-leader in your field. Be opinionated and relevant. This will help shape your company’s character and put you in the limelight. Customers will be more inclined to interact with or take notice of you when they can recognize a distinguished personality. Additionally, tweet directly to individuals—potential customers, product users, influencers, or other relevant accounts—with personalized messages. One-on-one discussions are critical Contact Holds. Engaging personally on a public platform can form a deep connection with the individual you tweet at, not to mention it will demonstrate to the rest of your followers how invested you are in each individual customer.
To create multiple Contact Holds in one shot, video is the optimal medium. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much you can communicate with a video. Create videos with a human touch, ones that show thought and consideration. The goal is to forge a moment of connection, to use meaningful images to arouse authentic feelings. A memorable video ad is one that provokes emotion and highlights your company’s values. In a few months, the viewer may not remember the copy word for word, but they will remember how they felt watching the video, and they will remember who made them feel that way.
Customer Service epitomizes the potential of Contact Holds. There is no better way to humanize your business than to acquaint customers with the actual humans who make it function. When a client has a question, problem or just the desire to interact with an actual person instead of a screen, they should be able to pick up a phone or easily find an email address to connect to your customer service team. Speaking one-one-one with real people gives your company a tone of voice, a personality, and a tangible presence. If these three characteristics leave the customer with a good impression, they will remember your company as a kind new friend rather than a logo on a page.
However, customer service pitfalls are easy to stumble into and can be deadly to a company’s reputation. For this reason, it is crucial that your customer service team is staffed with real people rather than automated messages. A robot can only help so much. An endless loop of transfers from one recording to another will turn your business from an accessible source of information into an IRS style bureaucracy. Another way to strike out with customer service is to continually transfer the caller from one person to another, forcing them to restate their situation repeatedly. Instead, the goal is to keep cumulative, shareable customer files so that whichever employee picks up the phone has the information necessary to address the full extent of that customers needs. This way, you minimize customer frustration and increase the depth of acquaintance between them and the individual employee.
Accessible, humanized customer service can go a long way in attaching a consumer to a company. Think about the Apple Genius Bar. Apple’s reputation for manageable, helpful customer service is often the swaying point during a computer purchase. If your company becomes well known for guiding customers through the use of your product or for providing personalized service, you can earn an invaluable advantage over your competitors.
Creating Contact Holds with potential clients is vital to a company’s success, but such points of connection cannot only exist between the company and its customers. There must be internal Contact Holds forming between staff members. If there is valuable human connection happening within a work environment, that positivity will emulate out to the work itself. When employees within a company feel connected to one another on a personal level, they associate work with a sense of camaraderie and fun. They will then be better equipped to convince customers of the company’s positive qualities because they will be speaking truthfully instead of reciting empty words.
Fostering an enjoyable work environment requires intention but not excessive effort. Take the time to celebrate milestones. When an employee has a birthday, buy a cake and sing to them. When a work anniversary rolls around, get balloons or send out an email celebrating that employee’s accomplishments. Another method would be to institute a designated social time for everyone to mingle and get to know each other beyond the boundaries of work tasks. On its face, this may seem like a waste of work hours, but encouraging employee friendships has long term effects. This infographic from SnackNation demonstrates just how important employee friendships and happiness can be:
In an increasingly digitized world, human connection is more vital than ever. Your company can contribute to individual lives and stand apart from the competition if you invest in interpersonal relationships. Build meaningful connections to touch your customers in a uniquely memorable way. Transforming your business from a company into a team of hardworking individuals will inspire brand loyalty in your clientele and push your endeavors to the next level.