[From a previous article in print]
By virtue of the fact you’re reading this blog, you probably already know a thing or two about digital and social marketing. But when it comes to making the step into that world, it can be very hard to know where to start. The below article originally appeared in the July edition of Business Eye. Simply Zesty’s Strategic Planner Rachel Ray shared her insights on how to find firm footing by going back to a few basic marketing questions…
It’s Never Been Easier to Engage with Your Customers.
Using online as a one-on-one with consumers.
Our world, thanks to technology, is getting smarter. This is going to evolve even more rapidly over the next few years due to further innovation such as wearable tech, personalized search, mobile marketing, geo-targeting, niche social platforms and communities, smart homes, smart cars, smart offices and even smart cities…
This is great for marketers, as this technology evolves we can evolve with it. We are becoming more accurate, time/event relevant and innovative in our consumer targeting. But it also means that consumers are exposed to thousands of media touchpoints every day and sometimes several at once. It’s getting harder to compete with all that brand noise.
As with any situation where you have an over-saturated market, your customers’ expectations of brand communications are being raised. They expect to interact one on one with a brand and – when they do – get a quick and personal response. Consumers also expect transparency in the age of online research, and seek out the ‘truth’ online – whether the brand gets involved in this process or not. Most brands and businesses are becoming more aware and understand this. But at this point they reach a common hurdle. They ask; “OK, so I know what people are expecting from an interaction with my business online… but I still don’t know how I’m supposed to interact”.
This is a greater challenge because, while there may be a few basic guidelines everyone should stick to, there simply isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Each brand or business needs to find the answer themselves. The good news is that you can make some serious headway into answering this by following this relatively simple exercise.
It comes in the form of three questions:
1. What is your product?
It’s not just ‘what it does’ but what does it specifically do for your customers? The printing press was an amazing invention not because it allowed swift multiple copies of the same thing, but because of the end result of that – it enabled people to spread information to the masses. The washing machine was not a success because it mechanically washes clothes, but because it saved the 1950s housewife so much time doing manual labour – time that could be used elsewhere.
In the past, many of the successful products were time-savers. Resulting in the world we live in today – a world that moves faster, works faster, commutes faster, communicates faster and consumes faster. Because faster was always going to be better, right? Well, that’s up for debate! Many of the successful products in more recent times do something else entirely. They are time changers. They are the products which take that spare 5 minutes here, or an hour on the train there, and transform them from ‘useless’ to ‘productive’ time. They are the Facebooks, Kindles, the Hailos, the real-time services, and yes, even the Candy Crushers. Today, we don’t want to just get from destination or task A to B quickly. We want to get from A to B, while doing ‘C’. Think about the benefits of your product from your consumers perspective – not from your own. Is it a time saver or a time changer? This is the main focus of what you need to be talking about online.
2. What is your brand?
Seems like a silly question? Before you start listing all the functions and advantages of your product or service again, ask yourself – is that really what my brand is? Because it isn’t a list of attributes or features. That’s the product – the tangible value of your business. Perceived value is severely underrated despite being unbelievably important.
Every branded product has a perceived value as well as tangible features. Most players in the alcohol industry are heavily dependent on it, so too are the luxury and cosmetic industries. When asked the seemingly obvious question, what is a brand? Everyone from David Ogilvy to Stephen King has an opinion on this but all of them agree that its essence is in this perceived value that we’re talking about. A brand is a promise to consumers, a set of expectations, the added cultural value of a product beyond its basic function. A brand conveys a feeling and acts as a personality.
3. Finally, what is your purpose?
What does your brand stand for? Nike stands for empowering people to become better versions of themselves. Coca Cola is about ‘opening happiness’. Unilever is Mom’s friend. Pedigree delared ‘We’re for dogs’. What is your brand purpose?
What do you stand for? Once you work this conundrum out, you can deliver the brand culture through digital, mobile and social. Becoming time changers, and engaging with consumers as they go about their daily routines. Digital offers this interaction – so get using it and engage directly with your customers.