So often we’re taught that emotional attachment is a bad thing, especially here in the US. We’re taught to be stoic, to withstand ridicule, to be strong. If you Google “emotional attachement,” so many of the links are about how to overcome emotional attachment.
Businesses pretend to be compassionate, but as consumers we easily see past the facade. We’ve become savvy to the “we care” message that’s thrown at us on radio and tv.
So, as companies, how can we change that?
Become emotionally attached to your potential customers. ACTUALLY care. Don’t just care about whether or not they’re going to buy your product. ACTUALLY care about the what’s going on in their lives. ACTUALLY listen. ACTUALLY become involved in conversations with them.
You’d be surprised. So often, a potential customer is going to immediately have their guard up, their walls reinforced, their moats filled to the brim, when a company tries to reach out to them. Salespeople are universally disliked. You can actually see shoppers wince and turn away when someone tries to interrupt their browsing in a dealership, a supermarket, or a department store. “Can I help you find something?” means the customer has to engage in a conversation specifically geared towards the salesperson’s commission. Customers know this. It’s not about finding the perfect car for them. It’s about the bottom line on the seller’s side.
How do you get past that wall?
It’s not about talking about the product that you’re selling.
It’s learning that your customer’s wife is pregnant.
It’s learning that your customer’s just been laid off.
It’s learning that your customer’s just moved into town and doesn’t know what’s a good place to go to eat a good steak.
All that information can be translated into crafting something special for that customer. Sure, it may not be an immediate sale. It may take a while. But a funny thing happens. The minute YOU become emotionally attached to someone, they feel comfortable opening up to you. And the minute you ALLOW someone to become emotionally attached to you, they become slightly loyal. Not only does the customer feel awesome, but you might also inadvertedly learn something that’s missing from your product as well – something that might make it better for your customer the next time they come around.
This is how companies USED to do business, before the megamarts and conglomerates. People used to be loyal to their butcher and baker, not just because they made a good product, but because they knew that they were safe shopping there. They knew they could walk in and order “the usual”. They knew if someone in their family died, their baker would CARE. Hell, their butcher might give them an extra quarter-pound of ground beef if they knew you were short on cash.
My dad used to do this. He bought nothing but Toyotas for years when we lived in Japan. He found a dealership that he liked – and he was loyal to them. He knew that if he had a problem, he could take the car to them, and they would treat him like a VIP. It wasn’t that Toyotas were better than Nissans. It was how the particular dealership made him feel. His experience with the people that ran that dealership made him feel like he wasn’t just a guy with a wad of cash to spend.
Now that we’re in a global society, we have the luxury of being able to do this on a much wider scale. So start caring. And not in a glossy, nicely-presented ad. Engage your public. And ACTUALLY care.
Become emotionally attached.