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This week, I saw firsthand the power of speaking to people in a way that resonates with their own experience and inner landscape....


A post I wrote on my blog last week about marketing to introverts seems to have made a connection with many people, landing on the front page of Reddit and netting thousands of new visitors to my site. What was amazing was watching the introverts come out of the woodwork to leave comments and marvel at the fact that someone finally understands them.
Here is an excerpt:

I have found that introverts and extroverts have a Mars-Venus thing going on. It's hard for an extrovert to get inside the mind of an introvert and understand where they are coming from. This article by Jonathan Rauch explains it better than I ever could (and might help you understand the introverts in your life better). We're just hard-wired differently.
This got me to thinking about whether marketers might need to take a different approach to be more effective in reaching introverts, who make up 25-40% of the general population (but 60% of the gifted population!). That percentage is large enough to think about taking the needs of introverts into account in your marketing, even if you are not trying to specifically reach engineers, writers, researchers, lawyers, programmers, college faculty or Star Trek fans, all of whom are more likely to be introverts.
Here are some tips for marketing to introverts (or just dealing with my people effectively):
* Use e-mail, blogs, message boards and other asynchronous online methods of communicating that allow an introvert to take time to think about what to say, then write and edit a thoughtful response.
* Be aware when you are conducting research, such as focus groups or interviews, that introverts think carefully about what they are going to say before it comes out of their mouths. If you do not give them enough time to think about their answer, you will miss out on their insights. Use a minimum 5-second rule of silence after asking a question or between other people's questions to give the introverts a chance to respond before you move on.
* Do not expect an immediate purchase or change to be made once you have laid out your case. Introverts need time to process information before making a decision, and will wait until we are sure before letting you know. Don't rush us or put us on the spot.
* Realize that introverts may have a few close friends, but not necessarily an extensive social network. We may not be comfortable recommending your product to others we don't know well, but be very happy to have something to talk about with our best friends. You won't see many introverts with thousands of "friends" on MySpace.
* Introverts hate small talk. We say what we mean and we mean what we say. And don't make us say it again. That means that you should also get to the point as quickly as possible.
* Introverts love to read, so give us written information we can look over and go back to as we think about it.
* Introverts may not tell you what we are thinking. Our innermost thoughts are private and not shared easily. Don't assume that we agree with you just because we are being quiet. But if you give us an opportunity to give you asynchronous feedback once we've had a chance to think things over, we can provide lots of thoughtful comments.
(Read the rest of the article here.)

As an introvert myself, I can vouch for the fact that we live in a world geared toward extroverts. That means that we introverts often assume that when we are not comfortable doing "normal" things like brainstorming in a group or engaging in small talk, there is something wrong with us. The people leaving comments on the post, primarily introverts, seemed surprised that they were not alone in their preferences and modus operandi. My favorite comment: "GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"
And the clue for all of you extroverts to realize that this is a chunk of your target market you may not be reaching is how much the point of my article resonated with this and other commenters:
What are you doing??? I was glad that introverts are not easily reached by marketeers so they'd more or less leave us alone. Why give them the tools to reach us. I'd rather to be left alone and missed by marketing.

I seem to have broken the Introvert Code of Silence. In a discussion of the article on a message board for introverts, I was called a "damn traitor" for revealing these closely held secrets. Ouch.
So, at the risk of being excommunicated from the Most Quiet Order of the Introverts, I am going to continue to encourage you to give this sizable segment of your audience special attention. Learn how they think and how they need to interact with information. Look at your marketing design with a new eye to see whether you may be turning off introverts with your approach. Because when someone feels like you really grok them -- not just giving them lip service, but designing your marketing in a way that speaks to them personally -- that connection gives you a huge advantage over the other "extro-centered" brands. You may find yourself with a whole new group of customers you never knew you were missing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nedra Kline Weinreich is the president and founder of the social marketing firm Weinreich Communications (www.social-marketing.com) and the author of Hands-On Social Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide. Reach her at weinreich@social-marketing.com.