Granted, we're living in an age of unprecedented technological innovation with unheard of means for connecting with customers. Who could have imagined 10 or 15 years ago having so many options for communicating - texts, tweets, Facebook updates, email, snail mail... just to name a few.
At the same time, none of this is really new. We are hard-wired to connect and interact with others. We're simply social animals and truly imaginative when it comes to communication devices.
Inspired by Knowledge @Wharton's Social Media Before the Internet: Tales of Victorians, Comic Book Fans, Phone Phreaks and CBers, I share with you 11 ideas for connecting with customers - some of which are, but not all, based on technology. Some focus on individual connection and others on collaborating with a community formed through common interests or context.
Connecting via individual messages
1. The article refers to a wedding having taken place via telegraph which united - physically and legally - two parties in separate locations.
2. I love the notion of personals in newspapers communicating vital information to specific parties. I've come across many books which refer to messages sent using code to arrange meetings; it's a marvelous plot device!
3. Did you know that the inclusion in the 1960s in DC Comics of name and addresses of those who had sent in letters transformed the comic book experience from an individual to a community one?
4. Think how effective email is for letting us know of LinkedIn updates, promotions at favorite retailers or news and advice from trusted resources.
5. Or even a hand-written note [Imagine how important correspondence via the post office was to establishing and developing relationships over time and across distance.]
Collaborating via community messages
6. In Smokey and the Bandit, the CB Radio created a network of interested parties able to listen in and exchange information using shorthand expressions.
7. The Wharton article refers to listeners calling into radio stations to share music requests and dedications. My favorite example of this is Gross Pointe Blank where Minnie Driver takes calls in anticipation of a high school reunion. A heated conversation draws even more participation from listeners.
8. Fordham University's WFUV radio station asks listeners to suggest songs relating to the Question of the Day.
9. I never experienced the telephone party line. However, in rural areas it wound up being the most effective way to share news (and gossip) about emergencies.
10. Do you remember the PBS show Allo, Allo? In it, the show's characters obtained information about the Resistance via the radio perhaps via a Voice of America type program - not too dissimilar from communicating via personals in the earlier example. These messages led groups from the resistance to rally around a specific activity [getting the British airmen back home].
11. Did you know that the smoke signal is "one of the oldest forms of long-distance communication. It is a form of visual communication used over long distance." Smoke towers still exist to keep track of and control fires breaking out.
12. For that matter, think of all the forms of visual communication that we encounter walking, driving, online, in stores... They are meant to consistently and efficiently communicate relevant information to us individually as well as collectively; they reinforce other means of connecting with customers. When done well, they transcend language differences.
How are you communicating with customers? Which methods do you find most effective both for individual messages and for building a community of customers? Which messages do you find resonate best?
Image credit: Telegraph Key on Flickr