Whether you like it or not, how we function as a business is changing. Thanks to the ever-connected world of social media, mobile devices, and consumers practically living on the internet the need to be in front of users is more crucial than ever, but their behaviors are forcing us to change. While you definitely want to be where your consumers are, you can’t be there pushing your marketing message and selling them the way that traditional marketing has in the past. Now, companies need to be more subtle, and to do this your top priority as a business should be to be helpful.
Content Is King, and It’s Queen is Quality
I hate to start with the obvious, but people are consuming content in record numbers and the creation of regular content is crucial. Think of what your customers need most? What questions do they ask? What help might they need with your product or service after they’ve purchased it. These things can be great fodder for content of various types. I recently attended the Explore conference in Orange County and during his presentation, Marcus Sheridan talked in detail about how he turned a business that was struggling in a down economy around simply by producing content that answered questions his customers were already constantly asking. The key was to produce in depth, quality content that answered some of the most common questions and concerns his customers had.
Become Part of Your Customers Day to Day Life
When I attended SES San Francisco earlier this year, I had the opportunity to watch the keynote from Avisnash Kaushik in which he stressed this point in detail. The days of interruption at the point of need are behind us, now it’s about integrating your brand into the day to day lives of your customers. In his examples he pointed out Skull Candy headphones as a company who has managed to do this well.
The Skull Candy mobile app doesn’t sell you headphones, in fact it doesn’t have anything do with headphones. Instead it’s a branded app that helps with the day to day lifestyle of it’s core customer base by providing information on surf conditions, snow conditions, or find a skate park. As an added bonus, you can listen to music from the app, which I suppose ties in nicely with the whole “headphones” element, but at no point do they try and sell you headphones.
The first thing businesses can do to be helpful is to stop being businesses and start being people. Be genuine, or as Courtney Seiter of Raven Tools recently put it in her Explore OC presentation, “Be Interested”. Social media, and the internet for that matter, is made up of billions of people that are all about “me”. If you want to be helpful, make it less about yourself and more about your customer and while you’re at it, be genuine. By actually caring about your customers and doing your part to help them, not because it’s good for your marketing, but because you truly care about your customers your business will go even further in today’s business space.
No matter how you tackle it the way you do business and market your business is going to evolve drastically in the coming year or so. Businesses are going to have to start thinking like media companies when it comes to their content and they’re going to have to be more than a product or service, they are going to have to be a friend, a confidant someone the consumer trusts. Find out what your customers need and then help them achieve that. Become as much a part of your customer’s life as your product or service is.