Welcome to 2009, the Year of Engagement, Social Marketing and Web 2.0, Part 1 of 2
As I mentioned in my most recent column — a recap of the National Center for Database Marketing conference last month — it’s not good enough to merely serve your customers anymore. You must cement them emotionally to your brand, your products and your customer service.
With social media strongly in play (whether you like it or not), you don’t get to choose what's said about your brand. Control of your brand image has been passed, torch-style, from the marketing department to your customers.
Your customers are becoming more and more voracious in their pursuit of information that's not simply put forth by brands, but spread by their peers as brand advocates. Actually, it’s more like brand advocates and brand detractors. Your customers, much like plus/minus statistics in a hockey game, keep score — a plus point for a positive customer experience, a minus for a negative one.
Why the social media explosion? It's simple: When you add the current overload of marketing messaging sent and received in a given day, coupled with a growing distrust of said messaging and a more jaded customer base, the result is an environment primed and ready for customer-induced growth.
The plus/minus as it relates to your marketing efforts. Your present and future direct marketing efforts only get you part of the way there. Customers and prospects alike search for information on your company to help with their buying decisions. The people who interact with your brand and the way they interact are the deciding factors in your success and/or failure. You don’t have to look into a crystal ball to envision a future where companies have less and less impact on buying decisions.
In the concept of the outward-facing, customer-focused business, there are two business models in the multichannel world: