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How to Be a “Wisconsin Nice” Brand

The Wisconsin presidential primary made one thing clear: As CNN Anderson Cooper 360 predicted, the political jabbing and quarreling caused some candidates, like Donald Trump, to lose Wisconsinites’ hearts —and, therefore, their ballots. This phenomenon, noted on the segment as “Wisconsin Nice,” is one that brands can capitalize on.

CNN Anderson Cooper 360° 4/1/2016

Here’s the video for those who missed the “Wisconsin Nice” segment on CNN last night. We had a great time during their visit yesterday, and today Gary Tuchman even called to see if we had seen it, and thanked US again for being such good hosts. A real class act!

Posted by Ardy & Ed’s Drive In on Saturday, April 2, 2016

As a Wisconsin native, I would characterize “Wisconsin nice” as an unmatched level of chivalry that the state’s people display and expect to receive from one another. It’s this obliging outlook on life that causes me to still wave at cars waiting for me to cross busy New York intersections, and the reason I find myself exchanging more pleasantries with people on my flights to Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport than on my return trip to New York’s LaGuardia.

And being nice is good for business. In their book The Power of Nice, agency moguls Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval describe how they were able to win big accounts like U.S. Bank by working hard and being kind. The former executives from Publicis Kaplan Thaler, now Publicis New York, write, “Our success was not won with pitchforks and spears but with flowers and chocolates. Our growth is the result not of fear and intimidation, but of smiles and compliments.”

However, Kaplan Thaler and Koval are quick to note that being nice doesn’t mean being “wimpy” or a “doormat.” “It means moving forward with the clear-eyed confidence that comes from knowing that being very nice and placing other people’s needs on the same level as your own will get you everything you want,” they write.

So, how can marketers leverage “the power of nice” and create customer experiences that those from the dairy state and elsewhere will especially love? Here are my five pieces of advice for how marketers can be “Wisconsin nice.”

1. Don’t interrupt. Being interrupted is one of my biggest pet peeves. Interrupting someone, in my opinion, is conveying that what you have to say is more important than what the other person is talking about. Put simply: It’s downright rude.

Marketers need to be wary of not interrupting customers’ experiences. There’s nothing worse than being hit over the head with the same display ads while surfing the Web or receiving multiple emails a day from a brand when you haven’t opened their messages in months. Marketers need to wait their turn to convey their messages, and only communicate when the timing is right.

2. Be committed. As a Wisconsin girl, I love the Green Bay Packers. One of the best things about rooting for the team is that there are very few fair-weather fans—and for good reason. How many casual fans would endure negative temperatures to watch a football game at Lambeau Field in the dead of winter? Not many. These green-and-gold fans support the teams year after year, whether they’re basking in a 2010 Super Bowl win or still healing from an NFC championship loss to the Seahawks. In other words, they never waver.

Marketers could learn a thing or two from these diehards. No matter how frequently they purchase or where they are in the buying cycle, customers deserve an optimal experience. It’s up to marketing to ensure that they get that experience every time they engage. Channel shouldn’t matter either. Whether customers are checking an app or in the store, marketers need to ensure that their prices, products, services, and experiences are consistent and up to the customers’ standards. It’s also important for brands to stay committed to their values. Doing so helps them stand out from their competition and lets customers know where they stand.

3. Mind your p’s and q’s. Saying please and thank you may seem like a minor courtesy, but it can actually have a big impact on your bottom line. The manner of a brand interaction can mean the difference between a raving or scathing review.

I think this old adage sums it up best: “People join people.” They don’t join brands. And who wants to associate with a brand full of unfriendly people? If marketers want consumers to join their group of loyal customers, then they need to make a good impression, establish meaningful relationships with consumers, and give them a reason to buy. Practicing common courtesies can help on this front. Send a thank-you message after someone signs up for a newsletter and apologize when things go wrong to retain customers’ trust.

4. Be honest. We all make mistakes; however, it’s how we handle and react to those mistakes that make all the difference. If you make an error, don’t try to cover it up. Be honest, apologize for it, try to right the wrong, and move on. Also, don’t make promises that you can’t keep; it only leads to mistrust down the line. 

5. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Here’s the thing about being nice to others: You don’t need a reason to do it. Sure, we all have our moments when we turn on the charm, like when we meet the in-laws or apply for a new job. But genuinely nice people are nice just because it’s who they are and they know it’s the right way to be. 

Similarly, marketers don’t need a holiday or a milestone to do something nice for their customers. Sending a handwritten note or throwing in an extra perk “just because” can have a lasting impression. Your customers will appreciate you and, odds are, your bottom line will benefit, too.

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