By Claire Smith, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Vancouver Convention Centre

As published in the October 2015 SoolNua Newsletter

We live in a self-absorbed time where madly taking selfies and posting our lives on social media are the norm. While this is a way of life now, it’s important not to forget that this “all about me” mentality should not be translated into our business life.

It’s so easy to fall into a marketing pattern where we only push out messages focused on our product or service – how our product is better, faster and stronger; how our price is more competitive; or how our service is more convenient than others. All in an effort to position our brand in a crowded sea of competitors. But what we need to do is take a step back and focus on the customer.

Many years ago, I went to a conference session on personal branding where the facilitator shared Maya Angelou’s quote, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." I have heard this quote used many times since and it really impacted the way I think about marketing and communications. We are significantly more effective when we communicate with our audience’s feelings in mind.

If we focus on the feeling we want people to be left with, we can craft our messages in a way that evokes a positive emotion. Rather than tell people to buy an iPhone, we are made to feel like we would be left behind the technology revolution if we didn’t possess one. Fundamentally, we all want to fit in, belong and be liked.

Creating meaningful, memorable and personable interactions with our guests, customers, stakeholders, staff and partners is often more about letting them do the talking, validating their feelings and understanding their needs.

This past June, the team at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Centre executed this idea perfectly during PCMA’s Education Conference. Upon arriving at the staff office, the PCMA Planning Committee found framed photos of what was important to them – photos of each of their families.

If you take the time to understand the needs and feelings of others, you will make your business interactions and marketing efforts more authentic and personal. In the end, I’m confident this will go a long way.

How can we ensure our marketing is customer-centric?

  1. Listen to what our customers are saying and respond to their issues or needs
  2. Listen for clues of what they are not saying and observe their actions
  3. Strive to make people feel special and valued
  4. Don’t force your message
  5. Make your message relevant and meaningful to your audience