Good Marketing is Southern Hospitality

VengresoContent for Sales Good Marketing is Southern Hospitality

Good Marketing is Southern Hospitality

I recently vacationed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia with my family. We had a wonderful time hiking, exploring, fishing, white water rafting and just being adventurous. As I reflect back on this vacation, it occurred to me that I also experienced parallels between our vacation and successful marketing.

Southern Hospitality
Everywhere we went my family and I were treated with courtesy, respect and warmth. And, I’m not referring to how the employees of business establishments treated us (although they were consistent in their treatment). We found the citizens of the community to be genuine, helpful and giving. More than once, people went out of their way to answer questions or offer assistance with sincerity and a smile, or just greet us with a sincere “hello” and have conversation about anything.

Content Marketing Parallel
In contemporary marketing, we speak of the importance of providing great content to your audience to build trust and relationships online. Our vacation planning was easily facilitated by the ease of access to information about the area. Before we scheduled our vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we did plenty of research. We found an abundance of useful information including things to do and places to stay. I was particularly impressed with the consistency of the information we found online, and the experience we had with human interaction offline. This experience is effective content marketing. It was the total experience that made it effective. It was the integration of an online and offline experience that made it a good one. This total experience is what I am willing to talk about. And, that’s called word-of-mouth, the most valuable kind of marketing.

Social Media Parallel
For years now those of us that have embraced social media in business have been stressing the importance of producing great content that delivers on the 3 Es and building a strong community online comprised of authenticity and transparency. Often these words aren’t understood in a business context because so many people in marketing roles are used to doing marketing differently. Authenticity used to mean being truthful in advertising. Building community used to mean building your mailing list. Trust used to mean having a track record of product quality. And, customer service used to mean being accessible to customers and answering their questions.

But, this experience made me realize that social media is really just a human extension of how people want to behave naturally. I am convinced that “southern hospitality” (as it’s known in the U.S.) is a global human phenomenon.  A business is made up of people. The technology tools at our disposal enable people to build communities online with authentic human interaction to create experiences both online and offline that build trust and authentic engagement resulting in positive experiences. Of course, no one is perfect and negative experiences can occur. But, a strong community can deal with anomalies.

I’ve spoken a lot about the risks of social media. As I continue to ponder these risks it occurs to me that they are really risks of doing marketing wrong. Some of the examples I’ve provided of mistakes made by companies are marketing mistakes, not social media mistakes.  Businesses need to develop a strategy of southern hospitality and carry it through in their online and offline channels. Perhaps most important, the people in the business must have a southern hospitality mindset. The tools used to execute on this mindset may vary, but the consistency of the mindset is what’s most important.

Bernie Borges

Bernie Borges is CMO of Vengreso, the leader in digital sales transformation. He's also Host of the award winning Modern Marketing Engine podcast. His book Marketing 2.0, was an early playbook in social media strategy. Bernie is also a trainer and speaker. He has a passion for guiding clients in aligning marketing and sales for accelerated revenue results. Bernie enjoys kayaking with his family in Tampa Bay, going to hockey games and you'll find him at the gym at 6am Monday through Friday, rain or shine.

  • Bernie, what you are describing can be summarized in one word: authenticity. We've all been marketed-to-death and have developed a stubborn resistance to artifice. What really stands out to me is when a company recognizes me as an individual and gives their communication a personal touch. Quality interaction doesn't have to be difficult or over-thought in order to be memorable. My favorite interactions are from twitter when select companies, large or small, pay attention to what is being said and reach out to you whether you are a fan or upset with them. Two organizations have impressed me in the past few months: The good people at FedEx and American Girl were unbelievably personable and gracious to me in response to random comments on twitter about things I was doing or thinking.

    Amazing how little effort is required to take a moment to show your customers – or even perfect strangers – that you are authentic and that you care. Thanks for the excellent article, Bernie, it reminds us all to be just a little kinder to people.



    • FindandConvert

      I agree. It's time well spent when companies engage with people who take time to engage with them. It's all about authenticity!

      Thanks for your comments.

  • These people know a thing or two about comfort food. Think of your blog post as chicken and biscuits with iced tea!

    • FindandConvert

      And, a little apple pie too. 😉

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