The gains of being pure at heart

Everything seems a little, impersonal nowadays. We’ve all become usernames, reference numbers and IP addresses. Everything is about profits, losses, money, greed. Bottom lines. The recent financial meltdown has left a bitter taste in peoples’ mouths. Consumers have become disillusioned with society, slaves to dog-eat-dog mentality, and mistrustful of greedy corporate execs who seem to perpetuate this. Now  is the time for compassionate, human brands to extend the hand of kindness and re-instil their faith.

Random Acts of Kindness, driven by this growing distain and facilitated by social media, is the perfect opportunity for brands to both understand what’s happening in consumers’ lives and reach out to them. With more people disclosing personal information about their daily lives, moods and whereabouts than ever before (via twitter, facebook, foursquare etc) it’s so easy for brands to listen and react to potential customers’ needs or desires in innovative and personal ways.

Starbucks, the (sickly) Sweetheart Kings, were both kind and personal, if a little boring, in their recent “Introduce yourself to a free tall latte” campaign.

The campaign crossed multiple platforms and certainly generated a lot of buzz but the idea itself was kind of bland. Well, very bland. I decided against battling the ques to claim my free coffee in the end, but it would have been interesting to see how the “introduce yourself” bit panned out. Although a nice idea, i can’t really imagine it being workable in reality.

Towards the more innovative end of the spectrum, but i guess kind of old news now, Edge Shave Zone, as part of their “Anti-Irritation” campaign, targeted irritated tweeters via the #soirritating hastag. One guy, venting his frustration at waking up to find he was out of cereal, was rewarded with a gargantuan supply of the cereal in question. Not only is this idea inspired for it’s originality, it’s so personal to. Imagine having your tweet responded to. Everybody wants to feel validated. To feel heard. To feel special. @edgeshavezone have now over 24,000 followers.

I read a Harvard Business Review article a while ago which discussed a client service representative, who, while on the phone to one customer, overheard a background conversation in which the customer complained of being hungry. The client service representative responded by ordering a pizza, and having it delivered to the customer. All while she was on the phone.

I think true success is about building a following of loyal customers. By engaging consumers on a personal level and building a relationship. Any company can proclaim low prices, superior products, or churn out flashy marketing material but quite often in life it’s  the little things that have the biggest impact; the thoughtful, and personal deeds that really touch you and stay with you as a lasting positive association.