Sawubona. This greeting in the Zulu tribe literally means: “I see you, you are important to me, and I value you.” Consider that, suggested Seth Godin, entrepreneur and best-selling author, in his keynote address at our Journey Summit. As I listened to Seth’s words (one of my personal idols), I was struck by the message. In an age where the consumer experience has evolved dramatically, we know how critical it is to truly connect with our audience.

In fact, it takes empathy, says Seth. “I hear you, I see you, and if you need to walk away, we’ll understand.” he said. “Without empathy, you can’t find the place your customers are stuck, you can’t help them move in the direction they want to go. We need to know that they don’t hear what we hear.”

Seth Godin presenting at Journey Summit 2019 at The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.

So, what can we do? The path forward was a topic of discussion during our event last week in Philadelphia. Our job, said Seth, is to find small threads of interest, connect them, amplify them and make them into something that matters.

Making it Matter

During Journey Summit, we spent time focusing on the customer and how they shop, specifically for major-life purchases (MLP). As you’ve read in my prior article, an MLP is a big-ticket item that entails a complex buying decision with a high degree of financial and emotional risk. These are purchase decisions that consumers don’t make lightly.

The vast majority, 87% of customers, comparison shop every time they buy something. With the average ecommerce transaction being measured in minutes—Amazon dominates with 10-minute sessions versus Target’s paltry 3-minute sessions—the process is very different from MLP industries.

We see mortgage transactions taking on average 171 days. Insurance is in the 3-month range. Some shoppers can take much longer. Each one of these points is an opportunity for a marketer to connect with the consumer, at the right time, with relevant messaging.

Creating Change

It’s no wonder that MLP markets have created an ecosystem of parties that work together to help consumers. Comparison shopping sites are third-party educators and arbiters of information. Brands provide the underlying products. And other service providers including agencies, technologies, and even data companies (like Jornaya) help make the experience better for consumers.

It’s that common goal of creating better customer experiences that was emphasized throughout our event. Because if you’re in this world, you’re helping people make the most important decisions in their lives and we need to continue making that experience easier and better for everyone. In the words of Seth Godin: “Our job is to make change. Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them.”

If you joined us at Journey Summit, thank you for making it a great event! We have a lot of learnings to share so stay tuned for future articles by our team and our partners. Together, we’ll be able to ease the decision-making process for major-life purchases.

Ross Shanken is the Founder & CEO at Jornaya.