I’ve spent a lot of time working in coffee shops and have witnessed many first dates.
Being a marketer, I’m a people watcher. I want to understand people. I watch them to observe and learn from a distance. I watch people in checkout lines. I watch them considering products on end caps. I watch them looking at magazines.
I’m always reverse engineering those moments and seeking to understand how the brands created that exact moment where a person picks up a product and chooses to take it home.
Selling anything is like starting (and keeping) a romantic relationship. The phases are the same from the first hello to the first kiss to the wedding to the happily ever after (or even splitting up well). So watching all these people having that first coffee shop date has been fascinating.
Mostly because almost every date has contained the same mistakes brands make in those first stages of wooing a new customer.
The #1 mistake I’ve seen couples making on the first date is…
🗣 One person is talking about themselves incessantly.
I’ve sat and listened to one person share their life story for hours without taking a breath while the other person anxiously tries to keep up (or frantically looks for an exit). The remedy for this first date mistake is listening. ACTIVE listening.
Active listening doesn’t mean being silent.
Active listening isn’t going to guarantee you a spouse (or a sale). Having a positive experience, whether you’re dating or interacting with an audience online, can enhance your life (or business) in the following ways:
- We listen to obtain information.
- We listen to understand.
- We listen for enjoyment.
- We listen to learn.
Active listening, whether you’re getting to know a potential romantic partner or customer, is the same. Here’s how to nail it:
Resist the urge to sell yourself. They’re already in the room with you. Much like Tinder isn’t dating, social media is not marketing. Social might drive traffic to the marketing, but social media is not marketing media. Social media is a coffee date. Whether it turns into a dinner date depends on how you treat this moment. On the business page I manage for Rise8, I try to make sure no more than 1 out of every 10 posts includes something that feels like a sales pitch. I’m trying to get that down even more because our analytics tell us it doesn’t resonate with people as much as other things do. And by “other things”, I mean memes, thought leadership, polls, and curated content. But mostly memes.
Say less and resist telling your whole life story in one sitting. You don’t need to squeeze as much info as you can into each interaction you have with your customers. Saying too much in a small space is like saying “you probably won’t see me again”. It’s insecure and leaves nothing to the imagination. Look at your last few posts. I’ll wager you could split them up into more posts that each say less.
Become attuned to reading nonverbal communication and look for cues about what they like. Listening to your audience couldn’t be easier than it is today. I analyze monthly reports to see how the posts I run perform. I’m seeking to understand what people liked. And then I do more of it. The analytic I value most is engagement. Anything over 2% is considered good.
Ask them about themselves and then shut up while they tell you. Linkedin is full of polls right now. Even polls about polls. People know when a page is just using them for engagement. Use polls responsibly and harness the opportunity to actually know your audience. More importantly, give them an opportunity to be heard. Polls offer a low effort way for your audience to use their voice to tell you something about themselves. What you do after the poll ends matters, too. If you don’t come back to the topic later on, then you’re just using your audience for engagement and they know it.
Mirroring. An important feature of active listening is mirroring. This means relaying back to your partner what you’re hearing them say. It lets them know you listened and enhances your learning. This is why I share the results of our polls and add more to the topic by showing how Rise8 offers value in that area. If you listen first, people are more likely to listen to you when you respond.
Indicate that you’re listening, not just hearing. Listen to understand versus forming a response in your head while they talk. How do you know someone is listening to you? They nod their head and give vocal cues that they’re listening. Online, this looks like replying to comments. I find it so rude when brands throw up posts just to say something and then dip out on the conversation. I love it when they come back and reply to me. It’s not a conversation if one person brings up a topic and then says, “keep talking I’m just gonna run over here and take a call real quick.” Much like active listening, try to respond in a way that encourages them to continue sharing.