In taking my kids out trick or treating last night, I paraded them past many lavishly decorated homes with "cute spooky" arrangements, outdoor music, and other scary yard setups. One guy's display definitely outperformed everyone else's on the block. It looked like he dropped $500 on Halloween gear and other decorations -- lights flashed with thunder sounds, revealing a ghost and other ghastly figures overlooking a yard cemetery.
But as we kept walking down the block, the house I enjoyed the most was the home of an old friend who sat in his garage next to a table with a jug of hot apple cider and a plate of cookies. He sat and chatted with me for a while -- which turned out to be far more enjoyable than the expensive cute spooky yard setups of the other houses. In these other houses, owners were sequestered away and only opened the door to briefly distribute candy.
The experience made me realize the importance of the personal face. No matter what product we sell or promote online, nothing gives it quite so much power as a personal, friendly face. Even in an era where people are drowning in emails and other social media noise, the personal response, the one-on-one "mom-n-pop" type of customer service, which seems impossible given the volume of responses needed, is more powerful than any other type of marketing. The personal interaction is what makes the experience engaging. This is what Eric Karjaluoto spoke about at Confab 2011 last year in his talk, Speak Human.
I'm not sure how to find time for that personal touch, but Larry Kunz's tips for building trust in a corporate blog -- revealing yourself as a person, speaking with conviction, and interacting with comments -- seem like a good start.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.