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You have probably heard the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" but for me, in marketing, sales and all things business, the golden rule is "Give before you ask". This new form of compassionate marketing focuses on providing value to potential customers before asking for anything in return - be it consumption, referrals or even just social media engagement. Given the saturated market, customers are flooded with choices - be it product or service. So how does one stand out? Through authentic connection.
The benefits of this marketing approach include improved customer loyalty, increased sales, and better customer relationships. Additionally, it allows companies to build trust with their audience by demonstrating that they are willing to give before expecting anything in return. By focusing on providing value to customers first and foremost, businesses can strengthen their reputation and create long-term customer relationships.
Before we get onto my key steps, let's discuss the psychology behind giving - specifically giving value before receiving. Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: Science and Practice, talks about the concept of reciprocity. He found that we are hard-wired to respond positively to a gift, even if we didn’t ask for it, or even want it. We feel indebted to the giver upon receiving. Given the psychological benefits, it’s important to use emotional intelligence in marketing.
Now, let's discuss the key steps to compassionate marketing.
Whether you have a million customers or provide tailored services to just four clients, it is essential to anticipate their needs. This starts with market research. Knowing what they want, how they like to receive it, and how you can best meet their expectations is key. With a larger customer base, statistical analyses or running surveys is great, but there is tons of value in qualitative research. So get on a call or grab a coffee with your clients - you'd be surprised what you could learn.
My favourite example in HK is Oliva Cotes James, the founder of the period company, LUUNA, for example, used to take people out for coffee or host community events where people could share their struggles. Through these interactions, she was able to truly understand the motivations, desires and needs of people with vaginas.
One of the key things you can offer to your customers (which isn't super costly) is content. Once you have identified your audiences' needs, you can answer them through engaging and relevant videos, tutorials, infographics and more. To hook in the audience, give A LOT of value by sharing your expertise. But how do you keep and grow your business? You charge for implementation.
A local brand that is doing this successfully is ATLAS Chiropractic. As Hong Kong's Leading Chiropractic Wellness Centre, the ATLAS team recognizes that their work doesn't stop with adjustments. So they have an extensive collection of resources that help their clients feel their best - at all times! From helping improve flexibility for greater sports performance to supporting and accelerating your recovery to empowering you to take your health into your own hands, the ATLAS doctors are always creating content that supports their audiences’ wellness journey. The readers, who benefit from the content, will ultimately trust the doctors and therefore are more likely to convert to clients.
Don't forget - it is a loop! Don't stop giving just because your customer has started to care. To build long-term relationships where your customers keep coming back to you, there has to be a cycle of giving. And this doesn't have to be tangible - it can be something as simple as a loyalty programme.
One of my favourite examples of continued giving is Spotify. With Spotify Wrapped, at the end of every year you're given a fascinating piece of shareable info about yourself - human's love personalised items. By creating a takeaway that highlights your favourite genres, artists and songs, Spotify engages the customer while encouraging continued usage - you don't want to miss out on next year's wrapped!
To truly maximise your impact and build a long lasting relationship with your customers, encourage a feeling of community and encourage giving amongst them. By supporting interactions between the audience, specifically those that encourage meaningful connections, you help people feel more engaged with your brand. Whether the community is built in person, through events or online through social media, you have to give first. Using the tips above, start fostering a community and interactions with each other will follow.
Buddy Bites is a great local business that sells dog food and gives back to the community and encourages its customers to do the same. For every two kilos bought, they donate 1kg to dog shelters across Hong Kong (and now Singapore!). By supporting charities, and motivating the consumers to subscribe to their products, they have created a community of dog lovers. Plus, they offer free dog bowls with the first subscription, allowing for recognition amongst users, further connecting the community. So, whether it's providing content, signing up to be part of their annual calendar or just helping each other out, the founder has truly created a community that gives back.
Humans are becoming more in tune with their purpose and their values - making conscious choices about what to buy and who to support. Therefore, it’s important to think about how to use compassionate marketing - giving back to our audience - before, after or during their decision to buy from us. Instead of selling products, we have to show our care and connect with them.You can provide value to your customers through a variety of means - be it content such as tutorials or fun facts, a free coffee voucher or gift or even just a free sample - it is sure to help build a longer and deeper relationship with your audience. As I like to say, “Give before you ask.”
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