There’s an old fashioned model of business marketing that goes something like this: a company creates a product. It creates marketing to go with the product. It pushes out mass marketing in the form of TV ads, radio ads, magazine ads, and possibly free samples in one way or another. And then it sits back and waits for the mass push to do its work, bringing in interested browsers to turn into customers.
The modern marketing landscape is vastly different. Customers no longer turn up without information, waiting to hear what a business has to say; they’ve gathered information from review sites, friends, social media, and online communities. They don’t pay attention to mass marketing; banner ads are ignored, commercials are skipped, and print ads are fundamentally useless. Customers expect highly targeted advertising – and they expect that advertising to include interaction. They expect companies to work to get and hold their attention, not the other way around.
The current marketing push is towards niche markets, selling to highly targeted individuals who are expecting products to meet their needs. It’s not enough to just sell to moms anymore; companies need to sell to breastfeeding moms who are going back to work and have enough money to pay for a nanny instead of just daycare. These fine distinctions help companies become successful.
So how to companies include their customers in the advertising conversation?
Give Information To Get Information
Customers are more willing than ever to give their information to companies, but they expect to agree to website cookies and user data because the website they’re accessing has higher quality information on it than the competition. Modern users are more informed than any other generation about the products and services they’re considering. To create a successful sales relationship with them, companies need to start a conversation, not just demand attention.
If companies offer high quality information – a great blog, social media presence, how-to videos, access to company data – they will have much higher success rates at reaching customers.
Social Media Is Conversational
The key word in social media is social; customers expect interactions in social media to be based around conversation, whether they’re on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or the next big platform. Customers expect to feel like an individual when they work with a company not just another dollar to be collected. Creating that conversation is what draws followers into the kinds of interactions that lead to them being customers.
That said, it is important to keep an eye on local rules and regulations regarding marketing. For example, when the TPD advertising restrictions went into place in the EU, e-cigarette or vaping companies had to be much more careful about how they advertised their products. In many cases, they weren’t allowed to advertise on social media at all. So keeping up to date on the regulations around advertising in your industry is crucial.
Targeting Is Essential
Marketing has always been somewhat targeted – knitting needle manufacturers placed advertisements in knitting magazines, for example. But with the internet directing people into more and more specialized communities, it becomes more and more important to make sure that the right audience is being reached.
Keeping conversations going with customers will help you understand where they’re coming from – literally, as in what websites, chat groups, and so forth – so that you can target your marketing dollars in that area. You can also work to build a presence in the community, letting your thought leadership attracted the attention you deserve.
For many years, businesses seemed to work in something of a vacuum. They had test customers and panels and market research, but they never really knew how their product was going to do until it was sent out into the world. It was then either a success, or a failure.
Modern businesses have the opportunity to do something different and more useful. They can work with their customers to develop products, marketing ventures, and more, creating products that will respond to the specific needs of the niche markets that will drive successful companies forward as traditional business models are disrupted.
There are many different ways for companies to reach out to customers. Feedback surveys are old news; invite customers to create content through programs like Snapchat, reshare Tweets, reblog tumblr posts, create Pinned content, and generally keep your customers engaged. Customers have always wanted to interact more with businesses, and now they have the chance. Smart companies are going to take advantage of that desire and work with customers to make sure that they get heard.