When we love someone, we tend to express it in five different ways, according to Gary Chapman:
- Affirmation: when we say the words, "I love you."
- Acts of Service: when we think of them before ourselves, like making their favorite meal or doing an extra chore.
- Giving Gifts: when we show how much we love them through our purchases, either at special occasions or out of the blue.
- Quality Time: spending time with them, whether that's just hanging out or on dates.
- Physical Touch: pretty self-explanatory.
These so-called "languages" are universal. No matter what type of love we're practicing (romantic, sexual, familial, or with friends) we express how we feel using a combination of these.
When we interact with businesses, that's a relationship. Sometimes it's as simple as one or two transactions. Others we're drawn in to the experience, to the identity, to the brand itself until we fall in love with a company. That's what explodes business growth: community and identity with a brand to the point where you couldn't imagine buying anything else.
That's why we Google things instead of Bing them, why I'm typing this on a Mac instead of on a PC, and why fitness junkies are either "crossfitters" or "yogis"--and nothing in between.
As marketers, we can interact directly with customers to harness the five love languages and build that relationship, so that customers:
- Affirmation: tell us (and the world) how much they love us! Thank goodness for Twitter.
- Acts of Service: read our content, share our content, take our surveys, and otherwise help to make the company better by being our customer.
- Giving Gifts: when we give out coupons, sales, or other free swag, we're showing our customer appreciation.
- Quality Time: we're all busy. When a customer chooses your company, they are making a choice not to use another (it's part of their opportunity cost).
- Physical Touch: ok, so maybe this one doesn't really apply. That's ok. (HR reps let out a collective sigh of relief).
When you read about the five love languages, Chapman's advice is similar to something you hear a lot in marketing: to know your audience. Which language do they prefer? Which language do they use the most?
As marketers, we need to understand how our audience prefers to interact with us. Maybe that's on Snapchat; maybe that's via email. Understanding that there's different ways to interact and to show your appreciation (and vice-versa) will help strengthen the customer relationship and build your brand power.