The Value of Incremental Progress in Business Communications

by Brian Burns on 8 June 2011

in Uncategorized

As the world of Internet business grows, so it seems does the pace of communications. The advent of real-time services such as Twitter have sped conversations up, creating the perception that companies have to engage with their customers at the speed of noise.

While it is tempting to buy into this perception, racing to engage with potential customers quicker and more efficiently than ever, doing so actually flies in the face of years of established principles of communication: relationships take time and continual effort to build.

Friendships are not built in one day. Successful marriages are not formed in a single month. Nike has been communicating with customers with its ‘swoosh’ consistently since 1971. And successful presidential campaigns are now starting 2-3 years before the actual election, using more time (instead of less) to get a candidate’s message across to voters.

For organizations large and small, successful communication strategies are built for the long-term. They are established on your website or in your storefront, reinforced in your in-person, email and phone conversations with customers, and emphasized through advertising or social media. Clear, friendly and personal interactions have a continued impact over time that establishes strong and lasting relationships.

My favorite current example of this approach in action is Pro Photo Rental*, a company that rents photo equipment to aspiriing or traveling photographers. Not only is the PPR website designed and written to be inviting and friendly, but each interaction after that is consistent with this message. Whether you DM, email or call, the staff or owner will personally take the time to answer your questions or solve your problem in a caring and direct way.

The residual effect of all these interactions is the formation of a strong and lasting relationship between customer and company. While PPR faces stiff competition, almost all of whom offer comparable prices and shipping offers, they have been able to become one of the top dogs of the industry. While a competing website may run a special promotion or appealing ad campaign, their repeat customers will continue to do business with the people they know and trust.

If the theoretical principles and real-life example teaches us anything, it is that there is nothing wrong with engaging in the high-speed arena of social media tools. You may find them immensely helpful to your brand and bottom-line. Whenever proceeding in these mediums, however, remember the lessons of communicators before you. Great relationships are built methodically. Not instantly.

Disclaimer: Pro Photo Rental has been a paying client of SpeakWell Communications in the past. However, there is no formal relationship currently in place and we have not been compensated in any way for this mention.

Disclaimer #2: The owner of Pro Photo Rental bought me a coffee for my birthday. This still does not constitute a formal relationship, and no other compensation has been received for this mention.

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  • http://prophotorental.com kohlmannj

    Haha! It's true, folks. Even though I bought Brian @ Speakwell a coffee on his birthday, I had no idea that he was going to write an article using our business as an example. That being said, we are very honored that he did.
    I think that this post is extremely valuable to those businesses who are worried about getting “left behind” in the rush to be fast using the latest & greatest social media tools. There definitely can be some benefits to being faster than one of your competitors. But after “playing the game” for the last several years, we've reached the conclusion that the reality of good business hinges MUCH more on the *depth* of the relationship. In fact, I dare say that some of the transactions that occurred due to “fast & furious” whirlwind relationship building were also the fastest to crumble & fall apart.
    Our philosophy is that doing good business is like building a good house. You MUST start with a strong foundation, and that takes time. Sure, it's cliche to say that, but it's cliche for a reason!
    Of course, the inverse is also true. You can build the most beautiful house in the world on a poor foundation, but if that foundation gives way, the whole house will come tumbling down.
    So as Brian wrote above, do your best to be as speedy & efficient as possible, but not at the expense of your foundational relationship values. Those will always take time to do well.

    • http://speakwellcommunications.com/ Brian Burns

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

    • http://speakwellcommunications.com/ Brian Burns

      I couldn't have said it better. It doesn't surprise me to hear that PPR has a philosophy rooted in dephtful interactions. It shows.

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