Recently, while reading the April edition of Sports Illustrated, I came across a reference to the concept of “transactional interactions” in an article about Tiger Woods’ miraculous win the 83rd Masters.
The term fascinated me as soon as I laid eyes on it, and it got me thinking about how we marketers can use it as a stress-test when we create and strategize content.
(I know, who still reads Sports Illustrated in magazine form? This soon-to-be 38-year-old does on a Saturday morning at 7 a.m. in the dry sauna after a workout—embarrassing to admit, but it makes for a better story.)
I’ve Never Been Much of a Tiger Fan.
Mostly, he hadn’t interested me because he always came across as, well, unrelatable. And particularly when it comes to athletes and other public figures, I tend to gravitate towards people I can relate to. I’m probably not the only one.
Take Allen Iverson, a barely six-foot professional basketball player who overcame a tough childhood, defied all odds, and always wears his heart on his sleeve. Though I know Iverson as well as I know Woods (which is to say, not at all), I feel a personal connection with the former that I’ve always lacked with the latter. A guy like that is someone I can root for.
The article discussed Tiger’s injury and subsequent decline, his age, and even his receding hairline, not to mention his personal challenges. Despite his struggles, an interesting thing had happened to the once-untouchable golf god: The guy lost his identity but had started to develop a new, more approachable one in its place.
The article puts it well: “Woods has pulled off a feat that seemed impossible when he was at his peak. He became relatable.”
Okay, I thought, as I read—this is someone I could start to cheer for. Tiger’s dramatic downturn, which seemed at times insurmountable, had an unexpected consequence: It opened him up and made it easier for him to let people in. “Human interactions no longer feel transactional,” the article explained.
That got me thinking. Even for us non-celebrities, our human interactions are often just that—transactional.
In fact, when I started reflecting on my own recent interactions—particularly the kind that are designed to be transactional (checking out at the supermarket, calling customer support, etc.)—I could only think of one that blossomed unexpectedly into something meaningful.
It was at the post office, where I’d stopped in to mail my 74-year-old mom her first smartphone. The postal clerk (a woman in her late 60s) asked me what I was sending, and when I told her, it struck a chord.
Her face immediately lit up, and she started telling me about the time her own kids had first introduced her to smartphones. But it wasn’t just she who changed. My own face, body language, and overall attentiveness transformed too, and soon I was talking to this perfect stranger as if she were a close friend. I left the post office (perhaps for the first time ever) with a smile on my face.
What Do Aging Golfers and Postal Clerks Have to do with Content?
More than meets the eye. After all, content is the way we engage, educate, and earn the trust (and ultimately, business) of our customers and prospects. It’s the way we start a dialogue and then maintain it throughout the entirety of the customer lifecycle.
So here’s the question I pose to you: Are you facilitating transactional interactions through your content pieces? Or is there something more there?
Is what you’re putting out there relatable to your audience? We all know our content is falling on deaf ears if it isn’t personalized to a particular person and where they are in the buyer’s journey. But beyond that, the best content resonates on a human level, speaking with both authority and understanding.
So next time you start strategizing that next eBook, video, or article, ask yourself: Are you striking a chord and creating content that your audience can relate to? What about cheer for?