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Online business and personal contact

November 26th, 2010 by Talya

Today’s post is a bit more “editorial” than usual, without the usual references to current facts and figures on mobile marketing, mobile web growth, and the like. Today we are going to bring things a bit closer to home and discuss personal contact in the online world. By personal contact, I am referring to actual human contact – meeting face-to-face, speaking over the telephone, and the like (you know, the things humans have been doing since the what I call the b.i. days – as in, before internet). Since working in this industry, I have realized two very simple but interesting things.

First, it has become clear that even in the realm of mobile and internet marketing, people still want to be in touch with people. I would even venture to say that the more technological the world becomes, the more we miss and therefore crave personal contact – consider the success of social media if you need proof of this. Sure, it is convenient to work online and to take care of most business exchanges via email, but sometimes a human voice across a telephone is faster, easier, and even friendlier than yet another quickly-typed email. And while I prefer email exchanges because there is written confirmation of a conversation or agreement just in case, a brief telephone conversation can replace an afternoon’s worth of emailing back and forth to clarify something that would have taken two minutes by phone.

The second thing I have learned from the field of online marketing is that business is still all about relationships. People want to do business with people, not systems or machines. No matter how technologically savvy we become, business is still nothing more than two parties connecting to exchange goods and services. This becomes particularly clear at trade shows, where some of the brightest, techiest minds gather to discuss and build business. At these events, particularly at the busier ones, it is evident that the online world, while advanced on the outside, at its core is nothing more than a large marketplace with salesman hawking their wares and connecting with their customers and potential partners. Instead of selling fish and bread in a wooden stall, we in this industry sell ads and clicks from behind a screen. And even still, we want to do business on a personal level.

I am curious to know if others agree with this assessment. Do you agree with these thoughts on personal contact in the online world? Is anyone else out there bothered when you need to get in touch with a business contact but can’t find anything more than an email contact or an online form to fill out? Is the online business environment really all that different from brick-and-mortar business?