You may already feel behind in the digital race, and if you’re still not planning ahead for the next three years, you should get started, as the pace of disruption in Digital Marketing speeds up and demands reflect an enlightened and empowered consumer that expects to be listened to, understood and met with relevance and competence.
If you’re only just starting to take a customer centric view on branding, you should be concerned. Your challenge is that consumers have never before had so much power of knowledge directly in their hands – the transactional barriers of gaining information are gone, and our new currency is social capital that we can use to trade with brands in exchange for the meaningful experiences we hunger for in our busy lives.
Your transactions with customers shouldn’t be limited to the moment they make a purchase. Your challenge is that the consumer is used to paying for services by clicking on ads and by sharing content that endorses brands. The consumer is increasinglyaware that they’re spending their credibility among their peers when they do it, but they accept this as it’s a reflection that also gives them credit. But only if your brand fits their personal storytelling.
If you’re only now realizing that marketing and business have fundamentally been disrupted – you could be in trouble because “The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed”, as William Gibson famously said. The gap between services experienced, and expectations have grown tremendously and new winners that get it are already giant successes.
Tech, Data and Specialists have already joined forces some years ago to make it happen– your challenge today is to bridge the gaps in your strategy so that the enlightened consumer can close the gaps – as consumers we’re always linked to tech and are experts in powering our decisions by data, and we have hundreds of 1st degree peers and billions of influencers in a few jumps – if you want to be relevant you have to start paying attention.
What’s all this about? – The future of successful brands belongs to those that get it right… In this note I’ve summarised the challenges you’re facing managing a brand in 3 summarized thoughts and 3 suggested action areas which are:
In the next section I’ll expand on these thoughts and suggested actions.
Deal with it, or it deals with you
So I highlighted three thoughts that you should reflect on in your context.
Most of what brands do is below par – In reality I know very few brands that I consider smart and intelligent enough to be something I want to be associated with or would consider endorsing. As I realize that liking a brand now constitutes sharing an endorsement, I’ve learned to be much more careful and selective. If you want to be my friend you’ll have to learn to be relevant, present and situated when I need you. If you do it well, I’d love to share my love for you with the world.
Silos will kill you – There’s no way I won’t notice that you’re not keeping your promises if you’re not consistent when I meet you in another context. Not only is it embarrassing for you that you’ve got amnesia, but it also makes it really hard to trust you. Join it all up so you can earn my attention and then we can begin to build some trust. If you make mistakes, don’t pretend I’m the stupid one, take responsibility, and I may like you even more.
It has to be a dialogue – The benefit of having friends is that I don’t have to explain very much. You should do the same; solely remembering my last expression of a thought or need is not good enough – remember that vacation I booked three years ago where you helped me? I remember it clearly, but chances are that you don’t, and that’s a shame.
The good news (for you) is that it’s never been easier to fix these challenges. That is if you want to? The trouble is that you may not get it in the first place, and that’s a much bigger challenge. But here, I’ll share with you, what you could do if you’re ready to take a few steps to get to know me better. And please, don’t tell me you’ll get there in a few years when your big platform change is finally, (perhaps) in place – it’s very likely I won’t wait for you.
And here are the top three actions I would recommend you consider:
Build a consistent omni-present ability to know what your brand is communicating. You can do this in at least two ways – find a big shiny platform that claims to be able to help you, and be really really patient, as you might be lucky in 2 or 3 years (I’ve probably moved on in the meantime, sorry.) Or build an agile approach of the best elements by stitching them together and rapidly improving as you and I start getting to know each other better. This means not only your marketing and advertising, but also the transactional and social capital.
Learn to maintain a dialogue, after all markets are dialogues. Perhaps you already started by sending me some simple postcards with things you generallythink might be relevant for someone likeme, but if you really want to play, you’ll learn to send me exactlywhat I want before I’ve realized it. The best way to give yourself that advantage is if you can have a conversation with me, because I’m actually happy to share my thoughts with you, if you’ve managed to get my attention.
Understand that business is not limited to money transactions – don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re only here to make me pull out my purse and pay with my hard earned money. My social capital is even harder to earn, but I will barter with you, if you get good at understanding my needs and the story I’m building my life around. Let me help you, but you need tomake sure I get something relevantin return.
Act – The time is always now
I’m sure you’re thinking, that’s not for me. Or perhaps you think it’s too advanced and complex for you, or your excuse is that you have this platform project already which will complete in a few years if you’re lucky. But then you’re not doing what you should. If you want to be tomorrow’s hero you’ll start doing these recommended actions today.
Just remember that while you’re thinking about it, I’m already checking on my smartphone if your competitor can beat your prices down the street…
My best advice – don’t buy big shiny systems to solve your needs, and don’t forget that you’re a consumer yourself, I’m sure you actually know yourself what I’m talking about here. Don’t forget that after price, comes experience, and trust as the two most important factors in the decision making process (combined, they are more important than price).
Don’t forget that it’s really ok to be smart with data I’ve shared with you – it could be that if I just booked a seat on your flight, I may also need that rental car and hotel room, just like three years ago, remember?
Your biggest challenge is probably not technological any more, it’s the silos in your organisation and the lack of understanding among internal peers. Start with that, and gather some intelligence from real life – then take it from there.
See you out there, I’d love to start a dialogue…