Welcome to planet earth, third rock from the sun, filled to the brim with over seven billion people. We live in a time of ever-increasing connectivity and consumerism.
Organizations across the globe are trying hard to come to grips with this new dynamic of a connected customer, one who wants to interact with your brand and share it with others.
What are you doing to be a part of that process?
Brands Are Evolving
Consumers around the world have taken a more personalized approach towards brands. They want to interact with you both on and offline.
More brands are seeing a rise in consumer created content about their brand. Take any brand and search for it on YouTube, you will see multiple videos of how consumer are interacting with the brand, un-boxing it, examining its UI even poking fun at its packaging.
While these efforts may seem small to some they are part of a much bigger picture, one that puts an everyday consumer in the driving seat, where they now have the means to demand changes and petition features from companies. More importantly, it shows that customers are interested in your brand, to their point that they made themselves a "brand ambassador."
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Living in the ‘Consumerocracy’
Power to the people, or at least something like that. Nowadays, more and more people are realizing the power they hold, when their opinions matter and when they can convince companies to slash prices and improve quality to meet their expectations.
We also see some companies making an effort to try and interact with consumer regularly. Some of them formalize this into regular "consumer connects" or market visits. They interact with their customers at trade shows, at activations and online thorough social media.
These are very good steps that have carried these organizations to the top because they kept their fingers on the consumer pulse.
When You Aim for Mediocrity...
A lot of organizations miss why the consumer pulse is important; when you live in the "consumerocracy," you have to play by its rules. Like your competition, the consumer is not someone you can afford to ignore.
They fuel your current and future endeavors with their hard earned money and that is why their opinions matter.
Companies set themselves up for failure when they stop marketing themselves and stop investing time into interacting with their customers.
The ride may be slow but their graph has started to go down from the day they decided to ignore their customer.
Marketing at Your Core
A company’s core is a specific set of people who hold the right to make key strategic decisions about current and future courses of action.
They are the captains that steer your corporate vessel in the right direction. That is why believers are important and should be part of that steering committee. Marketers are the people who are the gatekeepers, they not only communicate the brand to your audience, they also interact with them regularly to understand why they want to keep buying your particular brand of soap, your fancy new phone or why your internet is their reason to live.
Image via Connection Model
In our digitally connected world, the consumer lifecycle has changed, and with it, so have marketing efforts. A bit glamorized but here is the gist of it: Marketing is two-way communication, to the customer and from the customer. Being a marketer myself, I interact with brands regularly that miss this big picture.
When we fear our customer enough to not listen to them instead of respecting them enough to listen, we set ourselves up for failure.
Taking Action Now
Brands need to metaphorically put their marketing teams in shotgun, right next to their customer in the driving seat. While some people argue that letting your customer dictate your brand is setting yourself up for failure, instead focus on where they are trying to go so you can be the one giving them directions.
Listening and acting upon that insight helps you as a brand take calm and calculated decisions. From there test and discover what is and is not working.
Again, when your marketing people are shotgun they have all the right information on your customer; when you have built a culture of having all the right people at your core, they can help guide how strong that core is which reflects positively on your brand.