Bringing kindness to marketing and developer relations sounds like something that couldn’t possibly work in a hyper-competitive business world, where we value “crushing the competition” and “winning at all costs”. However, consumers are tired of that, they are tired of the shouting, the constant pushing. They want it to be easier.
Being kind with your audience is about saying “You can work with me, I respect you, and it will be a nice experience for us to work together”.
This is a long-game approach. You are looking to have lasting relationships for long-term benefits instead of short-term satisfaction. You are looking to create a connection, create something that is more than a campaign ad. You want somebody to feel comfortable when they hear from you, and also feel good about reaching out to you for help.
Jill Lublin, an international speaker and expert on influence, wrote:
“By practicing kindness in your business, you can increase your income, generate new clients, stimulate repeat customers to buy, and much more” wrote Lublin. “What is desperately needed at this time is a global attitudinal adjustment in which we, as individuals, business owners, and leaders, commit to implementing kindness strategies into our lives, businesses, and everyday affairs in order to facilitate a return to societal balance — as well as to increase our individual success.”
As I mentioned earlier, being kind helps your audience want to work with you. It’s about building a relationship. This can even directly impact people wanting to literally work with you, as seen in the Businesssolver 2019 Workplace Empathy survey where 82% of employees would consider leaving their job for a more empathetic organization. Creating an experience of kindness draws people to you and your message.
I spend a lot of my own time working with our community, so I usually like to show examples from that. If somebody wants help with a problem, I feel they have two primary factors in their decision making:
- Who knows the most about this stuff and can help me?
- Where can I go that is a safe space where I won’t feel silly for asking the question?
The first factor is about expertise. If you are the expert on a subject, you can meet your audience’s needs by showing that expertise which will trigger them to think of you as somebody to connect with. You might do this by creating blogs, answering questions on forums or Q&A areas like Stack Exchange, delivering presentations via webinars or at events… there are a lot of ways to show what you know.
Over time, showing your expertise allows you to then become the connection point people are seeking for a subject. One of the biggest issues with demonstrated expertise is that it comes with a lot of requests for that expertise. This makes availability an issue and ultimately means that the expert needs to prioritize who they can help. So, remember that being kind isn’t about always saying “yes” to helping, but it’s also about saying “no” in the right way.
This is where the second factor comes in. Most of us love asking Google a question. Google does not judge (usually). Google does not make us feel inadequate for how we typed in our keywords. Google will not publicly mock us for a lack of understanding of a language.
But Google can only tell you know what you already know to ask. It’s a safe space, but not a guided experience. A search engine cannot ask you what problem you are working on, and what you are ultimately trying to achieve, in order to guide you. A search engine cannot notice that you are going down the wrong path and redirect you to a better one.
So when the safe space is not enough, we often turn to our communities of experts. The people with the expertise that met our first factor. But do they meet the second factor?
If not, the question will not be asked. The kindness you show as an advocate allows a connection to be made, allows a person to succeed, which is ultimately what you want for your audience. You want them to succeed.
Without creating this safe space to interact and work together, we all fail.
Being kind is not always about supporting your audience with the questions they have. While I have personally gone about my career aspiring for the “trusted advisor” role with others, that is not the only way to interact with a community and build up trust. Even if you are not trying to interact in a community as an expert, you can still advocate for your organization as somebody who attempts to connect people, share information, or get people excited about something you are excited about. How you do this is crucial to building trust.
In this scenario, the most important elements of kindness are being open to questions, making sure to connect people in a mutually beneficial way while respecting privacy, and sharing your excitement about things in a way that reflects well on you and your organization. Positivity and encouragement can go a long way to making people feel like they are in a good working relationship with you!
Social impact is another way to establish trust via kindness. Do you volunteer? Do you donate to charities? Do you support certain social causes? Does your organization? Good deeds and selflessness also reflect well upon you and your organization and offer you a way to use kindness for a social good while also helping your overall brand image.
There are lots of ways that you can be selfless and help out, to make a positive change in somebody else’s life. It’s incredibly rewarding for you and also for your organization in terms of the relationships you build with others.
Find a way to reach out to your community and impact it in a kind way. Try to find one message a day that you can deliver with the goal of lifting others up. You will be glad you did!
- Businesssolver 2019 State of Workplace Empathy
- The Case for Kindness in Marketing, Henry DeVries
- Campaigns of Kindness Are Good Marketing for Brands, Jamie Leszczynski
- Kindness Communication, Christopher Fox
- Are consumers burning out on social media?, Dayle Hall