Where is the personal touch?
A mass production of “personalised” information is just that - a mass communication. Customers and prospects, friends and family see right through those approaches, especially when we aren’t thoughtful about our personalisation. Sometimes, we just plain b
One of my friends who works in the marketing department of a leading real estate company came to see me and had pulled a long face. He seemed very distant and did not participate in anything we talked about. I felt that he was interacting at a very shallow level. On being probed about the reason of his distant and aloof behaviour, he said: "The financial year is about to end and I am still very far from my target. I do not know what to do. People do not seem to be interested in buying anything." “Are you adopting a personal approach,” I asked him. This slightly irked him and he replied, “Of course, I do. I insert recipients' names into email campaigns that are tailored to what I assume are their requirements, thanks to a tailored sentence or two.”
The response says it all
Somehow that doesn't seem like a truly personal approach. A mass production of "personalised" information is just that - a mass communication. Customers and prospects, friends and family see right through those approaches, especially when we aren't thoughtful about our personalisation. Sometimes, we just plain blow it.
I will give you my personal example. My name gives me lots of opportunities to experience pretty poor attempts at personal communication. The emails claiming to be an old friend of Mr Chhabra always give me a giggle. Then there are the offers of all those companies that seem to just know what I want. That's a problem born of miscommunication or just picking my name from some database. There is no personal touch. Then there are the communications that don't mess up my name, but fail at the personal equation. One professional has sent me the same holiday email, with the same picture for four years running. Each year their message is the same.
"I wanted to share my best wishes with you for the New Year, and thank you for your support of my business this year."
I used to delete them and by the second year, I stopped doing business with that professional. Somehow, I
just didn't feel special.
Where is the personal touch?
The personal touch seems to have lost in social networking and the tons of emails that we receive in our inboxes day in and day out. Communication has become clutter, news has become noise. Let me ask you all a question, Are all those friend requests that you keep confirming every minute really your friends? When was the last time you interacted with them or, more specifically when did you go over their place for a cozy cup of tea and a close chat?
I still remember when I was a kid, we had just one TV set kept in the living room. At dinner, the entire family used to get together, discuss the day’s events and fight for the TV remote to watch a channel of their choice.
The fighting, the complaining, the sharing, the snatching was personal touch. Slowly everyone had separate rooms and separate TVs and we started connecting with the outside world and made it a virtual connect. When we disconnected with our own world, we did not know.
Reviving the personal touch
In this wired world, where we are all connected, yet paradoxically losing out on our emotional touch, here are some ways to bring about a Renaissance of the personal touch.
Just be personal
If you're trying to connect on a more personal level with your audience, then really be personal. During my recent visit to the US, I noticed there are still some people who write Christmas cards with their own hands, write personal thank you notes to those who have touched their lives. I am talking about a nation that is the most tech savvy in the entire world. This, my dear friends, goes a long way in binding you with someone. I did this for decades, taking time to personally thank each and every client and partner who helped me through the year. I fell out of the habit a few years back when I was sick for a while. But now I'm thanking folks personally again - with emails and kind gestures for those who really touch my world.
For a large business, it may seem daunting, but not actually. If everyone steps up to communicate with their own focused audience in ways that really matter to that audience, it's an easy and powerful approach to truly connecting with each audience member.
Do not fake
Stop trying to act like you're personally communicating in a mass way. Take the time and effort to truly be personal with your audiences. Yes, it will consume more resources and time, but the results will be more than cover those extra costs. You'll be distinct simply because of that personal touch. Always remember, business is done on a personal level.While you're at it, do the same in your relationships.
Don't be the guy who acts like he's your best friend for show in front of the boss, but who really doesn't know a thing about you.
You're either truly taking the time to communicate with someone in a personal and relevant way or, you're not. It is obvious to your audience which you're doing and the repercussions will
Look in the eye
Eye contact is the most powerful medium of communication and striking instant bonds. Strangely, it has disappeared in this connected world. People do not meet together anymore, and if they do not meet, they do not grow. So instead of always sending meeting invites or emails that encourage virtual meetings show to your friends, clients, bosses that you are made of flesh and blood. Just meet with the person, look at him in the eye. That’s when you strike a bond and the person cannot say "no" to you.
You can have at your disposal all the means of communication in the world, but nothing, absolutely nothing, can replace looking someone in the eye and then communicating.
Therefore, detach a little from the wired world, attach a little to the humankind that you are made for. Disconnect to connect… (The writer is a Punjab-based education counsellor with 12 years of experience. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )