Who are you getting over familiar with?

Fuel Marketing blog imageOne of the main changes in marketing communications in the last 5-10 years has been the decline in formality. Nowadays we seem to be almost too familiar with everyone, customers, prospective customers, suppliers and business partners.

People call, email or write to you and before you’ve even thought about it, you’re on first name terms with someone you don’t know and in some cases are never likely to speak to again.

Now maybe I am old-fashioned and a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but I don’t entirely feel comfortable being addressed as Vicky or worse still Vik by someone I have never met. In the old days, potential sellers were keen to find out your title first, before even thinking about launching into any first name nonsense. And there was also less frantic rush to sell you stuff.

Essentially, in the 1980’s and even the 1990’s there seemed to be some kind of unspoken conventions that people abided by that kept sales and marketing on the straight and narrow. However, thanks to rapid technology advances, the acceleration of social media and the breaking down of basic communication rules, we have by-passed all the niceties and often find ourselves going straight into the cut and thrust of business.

I agree that I need to get with the times, but sometimes I long for the Dear Mrs Boulton and the “Yours sincerely” sign off of old. So if it’s increasingly acceptable to use a more casual, conversational tone in marketing communications and more and more companies are writing the way they talk, how can we be sure that we are getting the right balance between a chatty neighbourly tone and one that conveys professionalism and competence?

Below are my 5 top tips for making sure that your communications don’t offend.

1.       Do your research – be prepared for the people you are speaking to and tailor your communications to meet their needs.

2.       Don’t assume everyone wants to be on first name terms – ask them what you should call them

3.       Take your time (& ditch the aggression) - develop rapport and understanding first before you try to sell anything

4.       Listen more than you talk – believe me you will always hear something useful

5.       Thank people for their time, their order or for their information – everyone loves to be appreciated

So whether you are on a sales call or sending a direct mail letter, remember not everyone is the same and when you understand the importance of treating people differently, you will get better results from your marketing activities.