Traditional marketing is dead. Hard selling has been rendered ineffective by a new, empowered audience that is in control of their own content consumption and interruption.
Brands have been called out for their profit-focused intent and commercial content is being treated with more disdain now than ever before. Ad-block usage could double in less than five years’ time. Further,
– Brand trust is at an all-time low
– Brand content now has limited organic reach on social networks
And then there’s the saying that your brand is what people say it is when you aren’t in the room. People are now capable of building or damaging your brand using social networks and digital forums, and your brand is now a function of their expressed opinions.
This has led to a new phase of marketing and messaging, the phase of the individual.
The influence pyramid has shifted, and it is time to invest in democratized marketing. Influence marketing is rapidly on the rise, and industry experts, bloggers, and employees are becoming an integral part of most company’s content marketing and distribution.
If the situation seems bleak, you should know that it isn’t in the least. Yes, there exists the perils of aggravated bad brand experiences and too much online activity to monitor and control.
But as experienced marketer Tim Leberecht opines in his TEDTalk, there are useful ways that a brand can lose control.
1. You can inspire your audience to turn into advocates using the right strategy and copy. For instance, apparel-based eCommerce company Patagonia said “Don’t buy this jacket,” it got people to sit up and take notice.
Leberecht believes that the ultimate empowerment of consumers is asking them not to buy.
2. You can give employees and consumers more control by involving them in content creation, considering their ideas and using their feedback to drive product evolution.
3. You can give consumers and employees less control and so freedom, by taking away the taxing necessity to constantly make choices. For instance, Nextpedition is a travel service that turns traveling into an adventure, not revealing to consumers what is in store until the actual experience.
At Frog, employees are forced into attending speed meets where old and new employees trade info and valuable learning.
The content you create and context you define can be powerful in getting your message to spread. You simply need to understand the temperament of your audience and use the right emotions to strike a chord where it matters.
Marketing isn’t only about your brand’s identity anymore, but how it resonates with the right audience.
If your focus is on online content marketing and social networks, you can increase audience engagement easily by getting your employees involved and having them distribute your content. Another way to generate brand buzz is by improving consumer experience so people want to talk about you.
Four powerful ways to active potential brand advocates and grow your business
1. Prioritize current customers
Conversion rates are as high as 70% with current consumers, so you have the opportunity to grow your business even within that confined circle.
Jeff Bezos highlighted that fact with an exercise that he consistently kept up during the initial days of Amazon. He would drag an empty chair into every meeting to represent the consumer, making it clear to attendees who is important.
You can use strategic content on social networks for audience retention, and keep them engaged via contests, live-streams, and discussions.
Oreo does an excellent job of engaging consumers and giving them a voice with Oreo recipes.
2. Go above and beyond
93% companies don’t meet consumers’ expectations, according to the Global Customer Service Barometer. A great way to stand out is by shattering your consumers’ expectations. The value of surprise and delight has been severely underestimated.
At event space Convene, the company has noticed that people aren’t taken away by the spectacular meeting spaces or locations, but the smaller details – like the mouthwash in the bathrooms and warm towels handed out to people who get cold during the meetings.
Kevin Hale from Wufoo found that their customer support emails became less abusive when they introduced the ‘emotion scale’, where customers were asked to express how they felt when filing complaints.
Do one small thing for your consumers that nobody else does in the industry, and you will see them talk about it.
3. Focus on convenience
Convenience is an invaluable customer retention tool. Think about it. Why were convenience stores considered convenient? They were located in close proximity to your home or workplace, stocked most of what you needed, had short queues and were open 24/7.
TD bank credits its success to being America’s most convenient bank. CEO Ed Clark believes that he can capture 25% local business within five years in any city on setting up a center, because they work on Sundays and have the friendliest bank managers and staff.
Some websites, like Fiverr, auto-suggest and complete your forms, based on what you have previously entered. People today value time the most, because there’s so much to do and they have to make hard choices. If you save them time, you automatically earn a spot in their good books.
4. Consider value, not cost
As Jay Baer has so masterfully pointed out, the #1 thing that content marketers need today is courage. The courage to give away real value at no cost.
Most companies focus on acquiring new customers instead of reducing churn. The cost to retain old customers and convert warm leads is significantly lesser than the cost to make contact with and acquire new customers.
Experience has become a crucial part of every business-customer relationship. As customer experience expert Stan Phelp has said, focus on value, cost is relative.
He cites the example of Southwest Airlines, that decided to ignore baggage cost when everyone else was charging for it.
Social media has given rise to a new, empowered audience who participate in content creation and distribution. They are channels in themselves, with the ability to pick up messages and dispel them into other channels, influencing and interrupting the flow of information online. Getting them to participate with your content is key to having your message spread.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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