Don Draper had a spectacular way of presenting amazing new creative ideas for brands’ big ad campaigns. The many “Mad Men” who inspired that character knew how to develop messages that truly resonated with people. At the height of the golden age of advertising, brand messaging literally drove consumer behavior.
Today, we can feel inspired by such remarkable creativity. But the internet has turned the advertising world on its head. We’ve done a complete 180. The old adage that communication is a one-way street between advertiser and consumer is completely outdated.
Those days are long gone.
In this always-on digital world of social media, forums and endless stream of commentary, brands have lost that control. Accept it.
Now, celebrate that fact. This is an awesome opportunity.
It’s all about connections
Today, the customer decides. They decide how your brand is perceived. They decide if you are relevant. They decide if what you have to say is interesting or useless. They decide if you are worthy of having their money.
Ready for the good news? The two-way street that now exists online allows you to make incredible, lasting, authentic connections with real people. The goal: understand the people you want to do business with. Get to the bottom of what their needs are and how you can offer the solutions to their problems.
The brands that succeed at this will be the brands that win. Here is a quick 5-step overview of the approach to take to use this customer-driven world to your business advantage:
Be customer focused
If you find you’re always in sales mode, take a different approach to your online content where you put yourself in your customers’ and potential customers’ shoes. Take this opportunity to move away from always speaking about your company, your features and benefits to being focused on the people you’re trying to connect with. Ask yourself what they want, what they need, and what they find interesting to develop content based on the answers to those questions. This is why knowing your audience is so important. The more you know who they are and what makes them tick, the better positioned you will be to put the customer in center-focus.
Be a solution
The great thing about digital media is that you can truly get to the heart of what people need and the problems they have. If you want to know what issues people are having, they will straight up tell you. This wide open forum of communication allows anyone to easily communicate with brands and businesses. Take it as a perfect opportunity to listen. By getting the inside scoop as to what people need, you’ll be well equipped to offer the best solution.
The open-door policy in any area will help your business go far. The internet has made this easier than ever. Some of the world’s most successful businesses are the ones that are transparent and easily accessible. This philosophy can be applied across your business, from sales and marketing efforts, to customer development and employee communication. In adopting this style, you will establish and build relationships essential to your business. Now more than ever, you’re in a position to listen to the people that matter. Don’t take that lightly. Be a business that communicates openly, accepts feedback and engages with its community of followers and fans. The most approachable, responsive and open businesses will be the ones that garner trust from a base of customers and potential customers—something all business leaders should strive for.
Unless you’re reading this blog in the 22nd century where we’re all robots operated by artificial intelligence, your business is run by humans. The people reading your content or buying from you are humans. In the 21st century, it can be easy to get lost in the mirage of screens that now exists in our world. But it’s key to be human with your online conversations, and expect that the audience will treat you the same. That means to be open, transparent and to always efficiently respond to the people who contact you with quality customer service. Utilize the various touchpoints at your disposal such as social media, email marketing, long-form content and paid search. When you create online marketing messages, don’t be a robot. Be personable, informative, helpful, honest and entertaining. And always be real. Authenticity is a requirement. The brands that implement these attributes will win and those that don’t will fail.
By keeping close tabs on your audience, can you not only be the solution, but you can be the best solution. We call this quality “irreplaceable” because you can convince your audience to view you and your business as something they simply can’t do without.
Be one step ahead by looking for customer trends, following the online conversation and always asking how you can help people best meet their needs. Know your audience interests and pain points before they contact you and be ready with the solutions. If you solve people’s problems better than anyone else, you’ll reach new customers and retain the ones you have without ever even having to cold call or upsell. Imagine that!
It’s a brave new world. The consumers have taken control back from brands.
Implement these 5 steps in your business and you, your brand and your employees will better adapt to the rapid changes created by the evolving digital landscape. It will always be a challenge to companies big and small, enterprise and brick and mortar, B2B and B2C. But it’s not as scary as it looks. Go boldly! Don’t just adapt to the changes. Use them to your advantage.