There are many elements that make a business function. Our staff provides us the brainpower and physical ability to keep our systems moving, organic, and appropriate. They are the living embodiment of our business values.
Our IT provides the backbone to our daily workflow, data protection, and organizational formatting. The intense policies we must follow (such as health and safety) are there to lubricate the systems of our firm, to make sure we are safe and that we need not suffer any setbacks.
But despite all of this, our firm will struggle if we have no clients or customers to keep moving forward. They are the fuel that keeps our operation pumped. Even the most intelligent business with the most novel product will suffer if they lack this most important of considerations.
And yet simply selling to as many people as possible, indiscriminately, is not always a good thing. For that reason, perhaps utilizing our audience to the best ability is not about reaching as many people as possible or doing all we can to exploit them to use our services, but rather to provide a serviced standard that brings people along in the first place. Perhaps then, we can begin to thoroughly respect them, and not only that, use that respect as a means to define and consider our future business processes.
With that in mind, we’d like to consider some of the following advice in this spirit:
Respecting Their Rights
Of course, respecting your audience’s rights is not an optional consideration, but an absolute legal and ethical necessity. This involves allowing your customers to access the data you hold on them if they request it. It means protecting their data through and through – such as how clinics use compliant HIPAA policies to ensure medical data is properly stored and safely retrieved.
This also means honoring refunds, ensuring that you have a solid support system in place to more adequately speak to your clients and to come to a mutually worthwhile outcome. Respecting your consumer rights might also mean taking back RMA’d components and fixing them, or replacing them as necessary within a return window. You may have also noticed that some businesses are now offering a full refund without the consumer having to send the product back if they suggest they did not like it or they couldn’t use it – putting a best foot forward, using consumer rights as a confident marketing tool. It’s a genius idea.
Structuring our processes to more dynamically meet these standards can be essential, and if you fail to do that, this only makes keeping up with those rights all the more difficult for your employees. As such, this is perhaps the foremost grounding example to show why prioritizing your consumers can help curate your business in the best possible sense.
In 2021, consumers expect convenience. This doesn’t mean you have to do the work for them, and to treat them like children. It simply means giving them the option to find resources, to curate a better understanding of what it is they’re buying, to use a plethora of secure payment processors depending on their needs, and to offer additional considerations such as scheduled delivery options or the ability to tailor which delivery package they opt for.
Convenience could mean, for some businesses, crafting YouTube tutorials to show our clients how to use a particular piece of software we are licensing. It means staying public on your social media channels and explaining promotions or initiatives you are taking, what they mean, and why you’re rolling them out.
The more you can level with your audience in this way, the more they understand you, the more you understand each other, and the stronger the bond becomes. In that sense, respecting your audience’s intelligence and time becomes something they will respect you for in kind.
Messaging & Communication
Of course, it’s not just what you explain to your audience, but how you explain it to them.
It’s fundamental to understand just what communication style will resonate with your audience. There is very real research that goes into the language necessary to help get across your brand’s theming. For instance, the marketing copy that may surround a promotional campaign for an electric guitar brand will certainly be more energetic, lively and exciting compared to the soothing, comfortable and reassuring pace of a brand selling equipment to care for a newborn baby.
It’s important to keep in mind the reading age of your audience, and then to reduce it so that all of them (and more) can potentially understand the message with no uncertainty. It’s true that small print and legal prose essentially conforms to certain standards, but in strictly promotional or explanatory terms (such as writing a tutorial for how to use a product), your messaging is considered and expected. This way, you can ensure that in the long run, your brand will never trip itself up with inconsistent or incompatible communication.
There are two purposes for taking in feedback from your clients, customers or consumers. On the first hand, it helps them feel as though you’re listening and that you can. Of course, you really do, but having them feel like you do is perhaps the most important consideration here.
When we are able to give feedback on a product, or a support call, or talk about the service we received, or speak about what could have improved or what we enjoyed, we as consumers are empowered to help certain essential considerations get across. You, as a firm, may even take some time to prioritize and encourage this kind of feedback by incentivizing a response with rewards. This might include running a competition for a worthwhile prize, or simply offering a discount for their next order if they do fill out the survey.
The second purpose to gaining feedback is, quite clearly, that you can act upon it. Don’t let it simply fill up an email box or a survey sheet without looking into the responses. Not all of them will offer lucid answers or worthwhile advice, but some might. At the very least, repeated statements and points regularly made can help you discuss just how you may like to address this consideration in the future. And then, bit by bit, you can curate your brand with the assistance of those who utilize it.
Goodwill (And CD Projekt)
It’s important to consider how essential goodwill is when building a brand and ensuring its reputation spreads far and wide.
For this, we can use an excellent example, one that has two sides, and up, and more recently, a down.
You don’t have to be familiar with video game culture to have heard of CD Projekt, and CD Projekt Red. The former is the distribution and publishing arm and owner of Red, the latter being their video game developer studio. They started in the 90’s as a means to popularize localized western video game releases in Poland, still struggling even after the Berlin Wall had fallen. Since then, they have become famous for gamifying a popular fantasy novel series The Witcher (now a Netflix show). Additionally, their recent release, Cyberpunk 2077, was known worldwide as one of the most exciting projects, with many AAA actors such as Keanu Reeves joining the project.
Thanks to prizing their companies’ values to begin with, they opened their video game storefront Good Old Games, offering a means of buying titles without having to put up with the associated digital rights management that many consumers saw as predatory. This inspired terrific goodwill, as well as their intention to release free content for the most popular (and very well designed) games up until that point. They were considered both a champion for consumer rights, and also a publishing and development studio that could be relied on.
However, most of that goodwill has since been tarnished. Cyberpunk earned well above its development costs thanks to the momentum of past goodwill and an aggressive (and overhyped) marketing campaign. Unfortunately, the product was unfinished, very buggy, and unplayable for some people, pushing Sony to act in an unprecedented manner in pulling it from their store shelves, only temporarily.
Why does this story matter? Because it’s a story of showcasing how exactly management departments decided to take goodwill for granted, to overpromise and underdeliver, and just what massive ramificiations have been felt since then for a company scrambling to repair its name. It serves as a great example of how prioritizing the consumer can work wonders, or work wonders against you depending on your consistency. Every business manager could do with researching this story, as it provides insight on a scale hard to replicate elsewhere.
It’s very easy for small firms and entrepreneurs to see customers as an anonymous audience of backers they must take the time to build. But when treating them with dignity, when using their rights and needs as a means to structure and optimize your business, and when allowing them to become the bulwark that helps you regulate and keep tied to your firm’s values – you’re in the best possible place to move forward.
With this advice, we’re sure you’ll get there more readily.