ABA Marketing Conference Highlights: The Many Aspects of Connecting with Customers

Article excerpt

Reaching the customer was, unsurprisingly, a dominant theme at the ABA Marketing Conference in September. What made the message distinct, however, were the particulars offered about getting that increasingly difficult job done.

Comments made at various sessions illuminated distinct aspects of the requirements. At the official opening, Steve Adubato, broadcaster, author, and Rutgers professor, talked about improving inter-office and customer communication, referencing themes from his new book, Speak from the Heart: Be Yourself and Get Results. Best known among cable news addicts as a frequent talking head on values subjects and political scenarios, Adubato at the ABA venue stuck to motivational themes.

If his amiable message could be summed up, it might be this: don't get too hung up on Power Point presentations, complex talking-point memos, or other tools and practices of "corporate presentation." Instead, think first about what you really mean and say it simply, honestly, and, with the appropriate emotional tone. Polling the audience for their views on communication, and testing them about what channels they prefer to "deliver bad news," Adubato joked the crowd into accepting this simple fact: if you can sense phoniness or a lack of punch or true belief at a mile, why wouldn't your customers and colleagues be able to also?

While the communications expert didn't insinuate that mastery of the more official aspects of professionalism don't count, he did say that we tend to get overly involved with media, and this tends to obscure our message. How does this relate to reaching customers? Simply put, customers can tell when communications aren't authentic so what begins with the corporate culture you create ultimately shows itself in customer-facing messaging.

Authenticity takes on other forms, including competence. Steve Stevenson, executive vice-president, sales and marketing, Bank of Agriculture and Commerce, Stockton, Calif., took the oft discussed theme of "Customer Loyalty: the Difference Quality Makes," and gave it new staying power by outlining the details of a customer-focused company. …


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