On this blog, I have sometimes – oh, OK, quite often – bemoaned the fact that so many companies all present themselves the same way. Both online and ‘offline’ (ugh, forgive me), they look and sound like dull corporate clichés.
This irks me because such an approach is completely at odds with the principles of good communication, good business, and good marketing.
Drayton Bird, in an article outlining the key principles for promoting professional firms, has this to say on the subject:
“Good marketing is simple. It’s just a substitute for salesmanship.”
In other words, marketing is what you do when you can’t have someone out there selling for you 1:1. Someone who makes the interaction personal.
This is instructive for all businesses, no matter how large or how ‘corporate’. Rather than projecting the image of a faceless company, you should try, as much as possible, to be personal in your communication with customers.
To give you an (admittedly tangential) example of the power of personalisation, consider this dapper character.
If you haven’t come across Marketing Chap before, he’s something of a phenomenon in the online world.
Rather than using his true identity, he plays the role of a pipe-smoking, cricket-loving, Edwardian-era gentleman. And by Jove, he plays it well. He uses wonderfully anachronistic expressions like ‘Juggins’ and ‘good egg’, refers to everyone as a fine chap or chapette, and regularly discusses his penchant for an evening tipple and his studious avoidance of hard work. Take a look at his splendid blog to see what I mean.
I won’t go into any detail about Marketing Chap’s success – for that, you can read this profile of him. Suffice it to say, though, that within one year he went from being completely unknown to having 20,000 Twitter followers, and now writes a column for The Drum.
Marketing Chap may not be ‘real’, but in a sense he is much more real than most brands, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is the reason for his popularity. The best word to describe him would be charming – and charming, I would argue, is precisely what the average corporate brand is not.
But does this approach have any relevance to the world of professional services, really? I believe it does – and I’ll show you why in my next post.
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