There is a tendency of business owners and business managers to get bogged down in the what and the how. That is, what you are selling and how you are selling it. The problem is that it’s all too easy to look at the bottom line and how actions you take directly affect it (this is also how many people are taught to think about business). As a property manager, you are told your main responsibility is filling the vacant units, and then keeping them filled. No where in the standard conversation does the experience of the customer come into play.
It’s a sad thing that this is the case, because the experience of the customer interacting with your business is the core of what business is. Anytime a customer interacts with your business – whether it is directly intitiated interaction by the customer, or it is involuntary interaction – typically via advertising or hearing from other people – these are all points of contact where your customer will have an emotional reaction to your business and they will form an opinion whether they realize it or not.
This is why it is so important to think about how every step that your business takes from a customer experience point of view – every point of potential contact, from how your storefront looks, to how your advertising speaks, to how you interact in person.
This week has been all about rethinking your approach to online marketing. It’s easy to say ‘Forget SEO, go with pure content and put it everywhere!’ The problem inherent in this approach is that there is no way to create an estimated measurement of return on your investment as a direct result of your content creation efforts. One of the reasons that typical SEO approaches work so well is that the marketer can say “if you pay me $X, then I’ll do Y and your search rankings for these keywords will get into the top 5 rankings with 6 months and you will be likely getting around 300 visitors a day to your website” – sadly this actually used to work. It’s so sterile, and honestly so thoughtless in it’s approach insofar as it was like making a meat processing plant for your own customers. As a side note, all those marketers who promised X rankings were full of it (Google even states in their ‘find an SEO marketer FAQ’ that no one can guarantee rankings).
The real problem isn’t that SEO is dead – the real problem is that people have forgotten how to think about working with their customers, and their potential customers, to bring them from ‘first interaction’ into their door, and then usher them along afterwards. It isn’t the norm to look at business from this overall point of view and then plan your marketing, your processes, and your product around what you want your customers to experience. This is sad, because if you do take a step back, think about what you want your customer to experience, and then craft every point along the way, all of these pieces will make sense. Each point of your marketing will inherently make perfect sense – “Ah yes, see I’m sending this postcard because it ties in with the conversation I had in the previous letter, and it provides an easy way for our potential tenants to connect and understand more about why our lifestyle is important to them.” You see how there’s nothing in there about selling product – but you will get a huge amount of interest with this approach because it helps people, and connects with them emotionally.
So bringing this back to the online content – what is the purpose of focusing on creating content and spreading it everywhere? The idea is that the content you create is just like any other element of your marketing where you would educate your prospects and try to enrich their lives. Perhaps you produce a really cool video demonstrating some feature of your property that helps enrich people’s lives – then you put it on your website, youtube, vimeo, etc. Maybe you also have an article or two written from it so you can reach people on other blogs, or in places where written content is more readily digested. Then when people interact with your business they are receiving this great experience of learning.
Ultimately, it’s all going to come down to why you are doing what you are doing – and why your customers are really looking for what you have. People seek experiences, they seek lifestyles, and they go around ‘choosing’ these things entirely based on their emotional reactions. If you can come to an understanding of this truth, then you will be able to connect with people on a level far more effective than anyone else.