I just received an email from LinkedIn requesting my expertise. I also received an email from them last year saying I was in the top 5% of influencers on LinkedIn.
I must confess, at face value these emails made me feel pretty good, until I read the fine print...
- With the request for my expertise, I was required to verify my eligibility and then I would be privileged enough to spend 8-10 minutes of my time completing their survey
- With that wonderful "top 5% of influencers", I was in good company, there were 10 million other people standing up there receiving the same accolades
It makes me wonder how everyone else speaks to their customers and if they think through what they are saying, how they are saying it and most importantly, how their customers feel when they contact them.
Customer communications is one of the most overlooked forms of communications. For some reason, there is greater attraction in talking to the media than there is in connecting with the people who love you enough to buy whatever it is you are selling.
This is crazy.
Media is a high risk communications channel. Don't get me wrong, it's a great way to scale your message, but you must have something interesting and newsworthy to share.
You can also do extensive brand damage, if you are not careful. This is because journalists are smart and inquisitive. If you don't do your homework or you leave gaps in your story, you run the risk of not telling the full story and leaving it wide open to a journalist's interpretation, which you may not have otherwise considered.
Remember, journalists know more about a variety of newsworthy and market sensitive issues than most people and they are trained to delve into the detail and ask the hard questions.
So, back to customer communication, think of it as a channel to share news and ideas, seek feedback, launch your products and innovations and most importantly, to let them know you care about them and want to make them feel loved.
It's not an easy channel to master, but these people are your advocates in the market. They are the ones more likely to refer you to their network and have tremendous influence over the perception of your brand in the market. So it's a good idea to work hard at getting it right or outsource it to an expert if you think you're going to make gaffe and alienate your customer base.
What's more you have the added bonus of getting a warmer reception than you might through other communications channels.
I haven't closed my LinkedIn account because of their emails as I get value from it in other ways, but I can assure you I wasn't about to spend 10 minutes completing a survey.