Customer behavior has always shifted with technology and marketers are typically quick to adapt. However in the past two decades, the explosive proliferation of social media, internet companies, and the new generation of customers using it has left many companies losing business to the internet and trying to figure out what to do about it.
I must admit at first I didn’t understand how to leverage social media. Many bigger companies have spent a lot of money and numerous strategies trying to leverage this new platform and measure its success. Traditional ROI measurements were confusing; many companies determined it was unproductive and costly. However, when you examine how the new generation uses social media in shaping their decisions, and combine it with the multitude of options and information available to them, you begin to see a different picture.
Technology puts a virtual world of knowledge and convenience at a customer’s fingertips, but it does not offer real connections or satisfying experiences. It is important to acknowledge that to establish a connection with this group; you must first earn their trust before you will gain their business. These new, younger, tech savvy, customers crave real experiences with real companies they can trust.
What type of experience does a company want to offer and how to make the connection are the questions that need to be answered. How can social media, as part of your marketing strategy, create that connection and foster trust in your experience?
A local photography store had several leadership changes over the past 1 ½ years. In an effort to reduce expenses, they dropped most of their events stating that they were unproductive and costly; traditional event analysis supported their claims. However, sales continued to fall and the store was rapidly losing money. After talking to customers and reorganizing operations, they found that customers liked the idea that the store had a calendar packed full of special events, training classes, guest photographers, vendor events, etc. Most of the events were not well attended, but when it came time to make a purchase, unknowingly this photo store held customer mind-share by offering these personal experiences. When customers lost that connection, they had many other choices, especially on-line, to make a purchase and did. By implementing an aggressive, technology relevant, marketing campaign re-establishing its exceptional ability to provide professional and personal experiences and delivering on those promises, sales rebounded and the company quickly returned to profitability. The store had been in business for over 53 years, but its reputation wasn’t enough, it needed to connect with a new generation of customers in a way that was relevant.
Many good companies are failing because they lost their connection to the customer base. In looking at a struggling company’s Facebook pages or the customers comment section on their website, you will find the answer to their problems. Customers are interacting with them and they are ignoring the comment or responding in a dismissive way, not answering or solving the issue. The company has lost the customer’s trust, broken the connection and it is out there for everyone else to see.
Are you talking to customers to understand why they make a buying decision, do you have a relevant, focused marketing strategy supporting your value proposition. Are you using social media to establish a connection with customers and build trust? Technology has changed how customers connect with companies, has your company adapted?