Over the past 5 years or so, there has been a rush by companies to understand how to use social media tools. Customers are using these tools, so brands rationalize that they need to learn how to use these tools to better sell to those customers via those tools. The idea is to take a marketing strategy built around using analog channels, and incorporate digital tools into the mix.
The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t consider how customers are using these digital tools. As late as 1990, there were three main channels to reach the majority of your customers:
1 – Television
2 – Radio
3 – Print
Because the majority of your customers were using these three channels for their news, information and entertainment. Today, any person that has access to the internet and a laptop/tablet/smartphone is a potential content creation and distribution channel. The marketing dynamic has completely changed in that customers are no longer looking to brands to get their information and marketing about a product, they are looking to each other.
So simply incorporating digital tools into your existing analog marketing strategy isn’t enough. You have to adapt your strategy to reflect the fact that your customers have a greater ability to create and spread information than your brand does. Re-read that sentence until it sinks in.
So in short, your marketing needs to adapt to make it more consistent with the content being created by other customers. Here’s how you can do that:
1 – Make your marketing less about the product and more about how your customers use the product. Think about why your customers buy your product and what they want to accomplish with it. What problems are they trying to solve, what are they trying to create? They are buying your product because it is going to help them do something. Focus more of your marketing on that something.
2 – Make your marketing more useful. Why have we seen a huge uptick in companies creating white papers and ebooks in the last few years? Because this content is useful to potential customers. It educates them, it helps them solve their problems. Tying in with the above point, it helps them do something. Create marketing that empowers your customers, and they will spread your marketing.
3 – Make your marketing more human. Your marketing will resonate with your customers if it is spoken in a voice they understand: Their own. That means not taking yourself too seriously, sometimes having a sense of humor, and being willing to admit your mistakes. A couple of years ago The Red Cross had a huge social media faux pas, but they turned a potentially negative situation into a positive for the organization by responding in a human tone.
The main point to realize is that your customers are now creating far more information and content than your brand ever can. Which means that most of the ‘marketing’ that’s done about and around your brand is not coming from you. Your customers are now getting their information about your brand from each other, so you need to understand this, and adapt your marketing to make it consistent with what your customers are now expecting.
I also created this short video presentation talking more about this topic. Let me know what you think!