The rise of the customer. That is the motto for most every social media guru holding court in social media meetings everywhere. The customer is now in charge, they control your brand, they can lift up the veil and get behind the covers of your organization like never before. The customer influences everything now based on the power of information and reach that social media provides.
I just have one question though. If customers have all this access to everything all the sudden, why don’t companies counter with more intelligence? Raise the stakes?
Consumers in general have very little time. Consumers in general have limited technical ability and comparatively have tiny budgets. Even with those limited resources, consumers are able to create communications nightmares for companies who are spending even less time, money and resources to address new digital issues. Think about the advantage across the enterprise if companies took the time to learn about their customers. If they actually sent a birthday wish to those who make it available on Facebook. If they new when a person walked in the store that they were having an issue with the last product they purchased from you. If you knew a customer felt a strong positive conviction about your company yet was never compelled to tell anyone about it.
Imagine you did know these things, how could you react (or pro-act in this case)? First, everyone loves a birthday wish, this sentiment goes a long way. Next, if you knew a customer was having an issue with a product, you would be crazy not to greet them with a manager as they walked in and solve whatever issue they have before it exacerbates. Finally, if someone has a great experience and was grateful for your service, provide them with a book of coupons or online codes to give out to their digital networks with 7 day expiration. That satisfied person will create more positive stir than any madison ave agency could do….and for the cost of a couple of online codes that might get used.
Companies need to re-imagine the competitive landscape, adapt and overcome. Make it a priority to know more about your customers than they know about you. Afterall, you have millions or even billions of dollars of resources, access to the latest technologies and armies of people to better utilize. The only reason a customer can out-flank a company digitally is very simple – they have a purpose. Whatever the issue is, they are on a mission. Adversitity becomes the mother of invention and customers sneak up on a sleeping corporate adversary.
So let’s start the process of re-imagining with some how-bouts, what-ifs. what if you put unique url on every mailer that went out that was tied to a person. Everytime that person visits, you learn more about them and are also able to reverse look-up their IP address and create a database of publicly available information (yes, this exists). Or use SMS (text messaging), pro-active bluetooth messaging or QR codes to engage customers walking by your store front. Once you have a mobile number, you can learn LOT’s of information if you are able to handle the data management.
What if you actually had a mobile strategy beyond “Let’s create an app” and used engaging apps to capture information and WAP sites to better convert prospects. Both are driven through mobile, yet used effectively, both offer very different types of interaction and outcome. All of this becomes building blocks for continuously capturing information about consumers at every touchpoint that they are open to providing if you structure it the right way (note: I am not refering to a survey here, old school marketers).
In the 1960′s & 1970′s successful marketers created personas around their products. “If you want to look like this, use our products” and people inferred a lifestyle if they associated with that product. Today, it’s the opposite. Consumers are creating digital lifestyle personas. Their LinkedIn accounts portray what they aspire to be from souped up experiences they may have had (who says they “stocked feminine hygeine products at Walgreens”? No, it reads “I designed product placement for essential needs”). their Facebook accounts portray the lifestyle they want their friends to see, and so on. It is up to companies now to review their customers personas and target those customers that best fit the product. It is up to the companies to become more prepared than their customers. The companies who do this first will have a decade head start over their competitors be more in tune to deliver what their customers need.
This may sound like a lot, so that’s why we asked Tim Hayden to help all of us out by moderating this week. As the Head of Strategy and Partner with Blue Clover, Tim has a long history of innovative marketing and digital leadership. To help us think differently, Tim will run with the following questions:
Topic: Knowing Your Customer As Well As They Know You Through Social
Q1: What “offline” touchpoints do you leverage to drive online engagement (social)?
Q2: When do you provide a mobile app vs a mobile website?
Q3: What can you use socially to “learn” more about your customers?
We invite you to join the conversation on Tuesday 10/19/10 at 12 noon ET. The chat will take place on Twitter. Follow along by using #sm82 or simply goto our LIVE page at www.hashtagsocialmedia.com/live.