Top-down communication is when the company talks to the people. “HELLOOO. We are the company. We sell this, this and this. We want you to buy some. Here’s our phone number. BUY SOMETHING NOOOW!!!”
Bottom-up communication is when the people talk to the company. “Hello, company. I’d like to buy something. Please will you show me where it is, tell me how much it costs, and reassure me that I’m making the right decision. Thank you.”
The people have the money in their pockets that you want. But, today, the people have the power. There’s a trend called social proof and another one called citizen journalism.
Social proof means people believe what other people say about a company more than anything the company says itself. Witness reviews on Amazon and Trip Advisor, and recommendations on LinkedIn, for example.
Citizen journalism means the people are making the news. They can take a photo and send a tweet about a breaking event on a smartphone before any BBC journalist can fly out there and do a ‘professional’ report.
As a company, you have to provide the people with what they want. (Marketing 101.)
Note that what people are searching for is e-commerce (when they know what they want and just need a reason to buy it from you), information (so they can make up their own mind about what to buy) and entertainment (just for fun).
First, you must make it easy for people to find you when they’re searching. When they have found you, provide them with clear, accurate and helpful information backed up with external endorsements such as reviews, testimonials and case studies. And then give a clear option for them to buy when they’re ready.
Just one example of how people power affects web design was given by Shelle Rose Charvet when she spoke at the Professional Speaking Association convention in London in 2012. Instead of giving site visitors a top-down direction such as “Read more”, it’s better to acknowledge the people power and change the text to “Continue reading”. It’s bottom-up, not top-down communication.
This may seem like a small thing, but anything you can do to get into the mind of your public gives you a better chance of inciting them to take the action you want them to take, whether that is to sign up to something, get in touch with you, or simply click to “Buy now”.