Our customers are getting smarter every day. But are we performing smart marketing too? I don’t think so.
When I have the chance to look at what most organisations are doing, I see that they are still living in the past of traditional media and have hardly dipped their toes into new media. Or they are using social media but still treating it as if it is traditional media! Neither plan will work. Here’s how marketers should be reaching, connecting and engaging their customers.
1. Don’t talk to everyone
We all know that you can’t please all the people all of the time, so why are we marketers still mass producing our messages? In the past, the annual marketing plan requirement was for us to develop a few ads for each of our planned campaigns.
Today with social media, we need a constant flow of new ads and new campaigns, each targeted at a sub-group of our audience, with individual messages. We need to not only to be mobile, but flexible, adaptable and ready to take advantage of any opportunity, the moment it happens.
One of the best examples of this is still Oreo’s reaction to the power outage at the Superdome during the Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. The cookie’s social media team jumped on the cultural moment, tweeting an ad that read “Power Out? No problem“ with a starkly-lit image of an Oreo with the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.” Read more in this article on Wired.
Since then, we have seen a few more brands “stage” similar events during the Super Bowl; I’m referring to Tide and Snickers of course. What all these memorable moments have, is a deep understanding of both the audience – in this case of the Super Bowl – and their target customers.
Smart marketing focusses on understanding the customers of a targeted group of category users. And accepting to ignore those that don’t fit, even if they are currently using the brand. Are you brave enough to do the same?
2. Stand out from the crowd
- Provide Legendary Customer Service.
- Admit Mistakes and Fix Problems to Build Stronger Relationships.
- Be Honest About Your Products and Services.
- Come Up With Something New.
- Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility.
- Start a Blog.
- Offer a Guarantee.
What I find interesting about this list is that the first four concern customer service excellence, but the last three are more about the organisation. OK so they should also impact the customer, but not as directly as the first four.
The other thing, for me at least, is that I don’t think any of these will actually make a brand stand out from the crowd! After all, they are the table stakes for the social world we live in today. What do you think?
A survey conducted by KPMG and industry network The Consumer Goods Forum in April this year, found that nearly four out of every 10 consumer products executives think brand loyalty will see a decline among consumers over the next two years. This is a depressing thought, especially as it comes from the very people who should be doing everything they can to build the loyalty of their customers!
For me, to stand out from the crowd, brands have to offer exceptional service and value so that they create raving fans.
Most products and services today are indistinguishable from each other. That’s why loyalty is at an all-time low.
And to offer such exceptional service to your customers, you have to know them deeply. Know what they value, what they want, what they dream of having, or even what they would love but don’t believe is possible! That’s how you get the raving fans, through continued surprise and delight. That’s smart marketing.
3. Be where your customers are
Very few customers are sitting in front of their TVs watching your brand’s commercial in the ad breaks, or listening to your radio publicity during their morning commute or seeing your ads while they read their newspaper. Today they are watching YouTube and Vimeo, or programs streamed directly to their tablets and smartphones. They are then sharing the best content they find on social media with their friends and followers. So where are you?
Now it’s true that digital media and YouTube in particular, got called out earlier this year for fake traffic statistics driven by bots. And as if that wasn’t enough, they were accused of placing some ads in sub-optimal positions alongside objectionable content. However, online is where a lot of consumers get their brand and category information today, so you can’t ignore these video channels.
It therefore also makes sense to take advantage of the content you do control, namely your website.
How customer-centric is yours? Does it have regularly updated content which is of interest to your customers? Does it encourage engagement and frequent return visits? Does it make it easy to contact you without going through contact forms which then disappear into anonymous hyperspace? It should.
Smart marketing is all about putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers. How often do you do that?
For more details on this topic, I recommend you read “How to Go From a Good to a Great Website: Engage and Convert More Successfully.”
4. Be available when your customers need you
We have become an impatient race and its getting worse by the day!
According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. And Kissmetrics reports that 85% of internet users expect a mobile site to load as fast or faster than on their desktop!
This is particularly important if you sell online. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again. And more than half of these would also tell their friends about the poor experience online. Therefore you don’t only lose your current shoppers but potential new ones too!
If you don’t have a shop, then at least you’re on social media, no? Well if so, then the picture is even worse! Edison Research showed that 42% of customers who contact a company via social media expect a response within the hour, and 34% expect a response within 30 minutes!
Have I got you worried? How do your numbers compare?
But it’s not all bad news! Do the right thing, fast, and you can turn a complaining customer into a raving fan! Convince and Convert reported that dealing quickly and effectively with customers’ complaints can increase advocacy by 25%. A brand advocate will share their love for your company, their unabashed loyalty and general goodwill with anyone who will listen – on social media too!
Smart marketing means responding to customers on their terms not ours. If that means 24/7 service then that’s what we have to provide, or risk losing them to a more attentioned competitor.
5. Never believe you have won loyalty
It is well known that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep one you already have. I have seen estimates of up to five or ten times more! But I think we all agree that it makes sense to do whatever we can to keep our customers loyal.
But in today’s world of never-ending choices, how do we do this?
No matter what business you are in, customers continuously compare on price, service and quality before making a purchase. In fact, research suggests that on average, a buyer will visit at least three websites before making a purchase. How does your business stand up to that sort of comparison?
One way to get a competitive edge is through supplying superior information. A study by Oracle revealed that what people want most is detailed and visual product information (37%), better search capabilities (29%), and easier access to a customer service representative via live help options such as click-to-call or live chat (20%).
Providing what your customers want, where and when they need it, is clearly an additional role to the more “sales oriented” one that marketers have traditionally played.
Likewise the need to get comfortable with both giving and gathering data. And then analysing the data they get from their customers to effectively deepen their relationships with them.
One great example of this is from the Good Food Guys restaurant group in California who own Split and Mixt stores. They use spend data to analyze their customer-base and uncover their “VIPs.” Last Christmas they surprised these special guests with a personalized stainless steel Swell bottle that could be filled with ice tea or lemonade, for free, every time they visited. The gift makes their most loyal customers feel valued and provides a clear indication to the store employees to treat these people especially well.
These are just five areas of smart marketing that will support your business and provide a clear and positive ROI. After all, that is what marketers are being challenged to provide these days, isn’t it?
Or perhaps your priority for 2018 is in a completely different area altogether? If so, then I’d love to hear more about your plans.