One of the most respected journalists in the world, Arianna Huffington knows how to tell a good story and engage an audience. As the leader of The Huffington Post Media Group, Arianna spends a lot of time listening — to herself, her readers, and a long list of world leaders who she’s interviewed. The results speak for themselves: the HuffPo won a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and her latest book, Thrive, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
I was thrilled that Arianna keynoted at Silverpop’s recent Amplify conference, because she has her finger on the pulse of exactly what people want today. And if this doesn’t summarize what every marketer is trying to figure out, I don’t know what does!
Here are just a few of the lessons I learned from listening to Arianna — about how marketing and sales leaders can better engage customers and create some serious results:
1) Technology should augment human interactions, not distract from them.
Arianna didn’t use PowerPoint when she addressed the hundreds of Silverpop customers, partners and employees who attended the conference this year. Instead she told us, “It’s just you and me.” Then, she spent nearly as much time on the audience Q&A as she did delivering her presentation.
Of course, the keynote wasn’t completely tech-free: Arianna did use a microphone to ensure everyone in the room could hear her, but that only helped her connect with the audience.
Digital marketing works the same way. It’s only effective in engaging a large audience if it creates connections with each individual.
Question: How effective are your marketing tools at helping you get to know your customers and deliver a totally personalized online experience?
2) Never stop listening to your customers.
“Leadership is about seeing icebergs before we hit them and opportunities before others take them,” Arianna said.
For marketers and salespeople alike, noticing untapped opportunities means paying close attention to what’s happening in your customers’ lives. People’s needs tend to change over time, and if you can track and predict those changes, you can offer more relevant experiences and offers.
For example, let’s say you work for an online bookstore. Your customer, Shawn, has traditionally purchased murder mysteries and thrillers. You know from his profile that he’s been single for three years and doesn’t have any kids. Then one day, he buys What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Clearly, Shawn is either starting a family, or has a close friend or family member who is. So, you might respond with a discount on other books about pregnancy and infants. If he continues to engage with content centered on kids, you could provide more offers and articles about the topic.
That’s the power of tracking customer preferences over time and building behavioral profiles. Without that kind of ability, your tried-and-true offers for mystery novels might stop working: a new parent probably won’t have time to read much anyway.
Question: Do you have behavioral marketing tools in place to notice changes in your customers’ lives and trigger relevant content?
3. Know what it means for your customers to thrive.
When visiting colleges with her oldest daughter several years ago, Arianna promised to put the tech away for some mother-daughter bonding time. To compensate, she stayed up all night working … until she passed out from exhaustion, hit her head, and woke up in a pool of her own blood.
The experience was a wake-up call for Arianna, making her question whether there was more to success than just power and money. The result of listening to herself? A bestselling book titled Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. (The fourth metric that’s not included in this title is Giving, by the way.)
During her keynote, Arianna asked how we all define success — what it means for us to thrive. Then she actually spent time listening to some of the answers, most of which addressed the audience’s desire to give their customers awesome experiences across every brand touchpoint.
Question: What kind of experiences do your customers want? How are you giving to them, making them wiser, and delivering a sense of wonder — to help them thrive? Do you have the practices and tools in place to get the information you need to do this?
Of course, the best way to find out who your customers are, and how you can help them succeed, is by delivering what your clients REALLY want. Thank you again to Arianna for joining us at Amplify. In my next post, I’ll dive into the leadership lessons our other speaker, Peter Shankman, shared.
1) White Paper: “21 Tips for Building a Strong Modern-Day Preference Center”
2) Blog: “5 Approaches to Minimizing Unsubscribes”
3) Video: “Adding ‘White Space’ to Your Email Program”