How does it make you feel when you call some big corporation and you get one of those “Press 1 for blah, press 2 for blah” prompts?

When the recording says “we care about your call”, you’re probably thinking some pretty wicked thoughts, huh?

Even worse is when you’re stuck talking to a computer. Oh, and I HATE it when the damn computer won’t understand what I’m saying. Freakin’ annoying!

Point is…

We don’t like being treated like a number. We don’t like being lumped into a big group and dismissed, ignored, or taken for granted.

We want to feel heard and we want to be ACKNOWLEDGED.

Ya feelin’ me?

But, yet, let’s take a look at some of what happens in the world of online business.

How Online Entrepreneurs Are Doing It Wrong (Well, some of them)

In this world of online business and blogging, we hear words like “your crowd”, “your audience”, “your tribe”. We hear marketers talking about “blasting” their list. We hear people talking about “driving” traffic.

Do you enjoy being “driven” into something, kinda like a cow being moved from one holding pen to another one?

And, what are these marketers? Some kind of digital cowboy where they’re just blasting us and driving us into stuff all day?

The problem is, it is all too easy to start looking at people in an impersonal way. In all the focus on the numbers, many seem to have forgotten that those numbers all represent REAL PEOPLE.

Even more annoying are those online entrepreneurs who have grown to a certain point where they begin hiding behind layers and other people. They’ll hire a VA to field all their email for them. They’ll set up big support desks and basically set up systems so that they are insulated from the very people who put them on the map to begin with.

The problem isn’t that they’re setting up systems like that… the problem is that they’re trying to HIDE.

This Is A Communication Business We’re In Here

On first glance, me calling this a communication business might make you simply say “well, duh!”. But, let’s look deeper…

What exactly is a communication? Well, it is an idea which begins at one point, travels a distance, and lands at a second point. Those points are PEOPLE. Objects don’t communicate. People do. So, we’re talking primarily about individual people here.

For TRUE communication to take place, you’re talking to an individual person. You are the source point of the communication, and that other person is the receipt point. You use all kinds of various mediums to do that.

Point is, you’re NOT talking to your “tribe”, or your “audience”, or to any GROUP at all. You’re talking to EACH INDIVIDUAL MEMBER.

Every single reader or subscriber you have is a real person, you know. They have feelings. They have joys and fears. Most of them have a family. They have things that keep them up at night.

They’re real people. Each and every one of them.

And it is each individual person we’re talking to, not a mass group of faceless email addresses.

When you’re talking to your “tribe”, you are, in reality, talking to each individual member of that tribe simultaneously. If you get into the mindset of talking to a big group, that’s where you’ll end up losing the connection.

How Does This Apply to Traffic And Sales?

Simply put…

The degree to which you truly communicate with the people in your niche will dictate your success. It is the make-break point of whether you gain raving fans, or just fall into the noise of your niche and barely get noticed.

This doesn’t mean that you sit back, post content, cross your fingers and hope people notice. No, that would be talking AT people. That’s trying to talk to a group.

This business is a lot more about person-to-person than people think.

Ever heard about the “customer avatar” or “reader avatar”? This is a concept I teach inside the Academy, but it comes down to really honing down the exact nature of the PERSON you’re talking to. I’ve even gone so far as to have direct 1-on-1 phone calls with several of my customers in order to work out this avatar profile.

Here are some other things I personally do in my business:

  • My “welcome email” when people enroll in the free Academy membership has a picture of me and my family. Why did I do that? It is because I want to form a relationship with each and every individual who enrolls, and a pre-requisite to that is that they see ME as an individual, too.
  • I ask my new subscribers what their biggest challenges are, and I tell them to reply. And, you know what? A LOT of them reply. A majority of them, I’d say. And, do I send them into some kind of queue and try to avoid them? HELL NO. In fact…
  • I reply personally to almost every one of them. Because I know that acknowledgement is EXTREMELY important. When you don’t acknowledge people after they’ve originated a communication to you, all you do is show them you’re ignoring them and they’ll dismiss you.
  • I personally answer my own email. While I do have a support desk and a VA and I do employ systems to deal with support related matters, I never hide behind it.

And, what are the results of this?

Well, it has definitely increased engagement with my readership. But, in a more concrete way, it has directly increased sales here at the Academy. There have been many instances where I “closed” a sale of an Academy PRO membership via 1-on-1 email with a new subscriber. I wasn’t even trying and I certainly wasn’t going all “salesy” on them. It comes down to one thing…

I acknowledged them, I heard them, and I answered their question.

It is so freakin’ simple.

Immediate Ways To Apply This

Here are some things I recommend you do (or start doing) right away:

  • Make sure when people reply to an email you send to your list, that the email goes to you and not to a bounce address.
  • When you get a reply from a reader, ANSWER THEM.
  • Actively ask your list subscribers questions and invite them to answer you by way of a reply. Not only does this foster two-way communication (VERY IMPORTANT!), but it also will increase your delivery rates.
  • Every time you put forth any kind of content, build in an invitation to engage your readers in communication. And then, make a point to reply to them.

And a word for people with larger businesses where the volume gets high…

I totally understand the need to set up systems to handle volume of communication. I have the same issue here at the Academy, and I do use a VA and a support desk. I’m not saying here that it has to be YOU personally dealing with every single email which comes into your business. That’d be really hard to scale.

As your business grows, you want to scale the system in such a way that it remains personal. And you, as the owner, never want to remove yourself from the communication lines. Don’t ever try to hide behind your staff. Don’t ever stop listening to your customers and audience.

Every single email that comes into your business is an opportunity. It is is a real communication from a real person. It isn’t something to be annoyed by. It isn’t something to handle as quickly as you can do you can get down to “inbox zero”.

This is a people business.

This isn’t an information business, or a blogging business. It is a people business.

Treat people like people. Respect them. Apply the golden rule.

Your business and your blog will be the better for it.

Now, I Want To Hear From You

your_turnBelow in the comment section, tell me about a time (online or offline) where you felt ignored by a business owner or organization who wasn’t treating you like a person, but just a number.

And, if you wish to go a little further with this, then let’s turn it into a lesson…

What could that business owner, blogger or organization have done differently to turn you, instead, into a raving fan?

Got A Question? Need Some Assistance?

Have a question about this article? Need some help with this topic (or anything else)? Send it in and I’ll get back to you personally. If you’re OK with it, I might even use it as the basis of future content so I can make this site most useful.

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