your customers’ real needs

An overload of communications

Where to start?

As the January sales dwindle on, ready to drift into the spring then summer then ‘what the hell, let’s do it anyway’ sales; my email inbox continues to fill up with offer after offer from the (very few) companies I subscribe to.

20% off today only

20.13% off for 2013

Sale now on – hurry!

Even on Christmas Day, as I relaxed safe in the knowledge of a marketing-free day, in popped an email announcing the start of the amazing Christmas sales.  And so it continued.  Wasn’t it enough to bombard me before the event itself, with huge numbers of direct emails coming through for pre-Christmas sales and special offer temptations?

It was suffocation by email.  My stress levels rose, my bank balance glimmered guiltily in the background and a familiar uncomfortable feeling in my sub-conscious grumbled.

Who made it OK to push our deepest psychological buttons to make us buy?

I understand.  Businesses need to survive, therefore businesses need to sell.  This is a fact of life and always will be as long as free trade exists; hopefully this will be forever.  But do businesses really have the right to abuse our psyches to do it?  Do we need to play with people’s minds, all in the name of profit?

Direct marketing to increase sales is an age-old approach, but science, technology and data have considerably changed the game.  Businesses know about how people think and analyse information and with this ever more available, they could be playing at dangerous levels of manipulation.

Buying should always be a choice.  It should be based on a need.  Businesses highlight that need and help consumers to understand why they need it.  Consumers and customers buy things they want, not things they need.  Businesses play on this, ultimately to make profit; enticing consumers to buy, buy, buy.  Clothes.  Laptops. Pay day loans at 400%-4000% APR.  It’s scary.  And at some point it will implode, we’re simply not designed for it – evolution is not fast enough.

An ethical and sustainable approach to communication.

My challenge to businesses is: can you market, communicate and therefore sell; sustainably?  Can you help your customers cope with the sheer amount of choice, information and communication out there; but still reach the ones who need your service or product?  And can you recognise the real needs of the consumer; to be balanced, healthy and stable in this crazy world of consumer madness and e-communication (or just to be).

It’s time to take a truly consumer driven approach.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  People will always want more and more isn’t always sustainable.  In a world of rife mental illness, personal debt and economic hardship; let’s look for business solutions and business communications that support a sustainable way of life and future. It’s not just about commodities, carbon footprint, fair trade and CSR; it’s about people and our capacity to function in the world we now live in.

Just a thought.

If you have any thoughts on how businesses can communicate better with their target audience, without overloading them; I’d love to hear about them.  Please leave a comment below, or via Twitter.

If you liked this post, you might like to read direct email: stand up, stand out and be counted! or Tweet-itis! (have you got symptoms?).

Rebecca Wheatley is a copywriter and communications specialist based in Zürich, Switzerland.  She loves to write about her communication bug-bears and try to make the world an altogether healthier place to do business in.

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About lifeinzuri
Thirty-something Englanderin copywriter and business owner in Zurich ... Blogging about life, love, language barriers and small business on the best journey of my life :)

2 Responses to your customers’ real needs

  1. Pingback: smallbiz communication in the age of 4G | commsavvy - finding a voice for small businesses

  2. Pingback: what’s copywriting and how does it help your small business? | commsavvy - finding a voice for small businesses

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