Marketing for customers, by customers - Dave Thackeray Guest Blog
Some business owners are terrified by how the marketing landscape is changing as control passes from industry to customer. But there's good news - it's now clearer than ever how to win. DAVE THACKERAY, digital lead at WLCT and student of CIM Level 6 Professional Marketing with Professional Academy, shares his two tips for sustainable success.
If there's one thing more sure than death and taxes, it's the individual consumer having greater say in your success than ever before.
Before social media, it took a mighty effort for the lone customer to make a serious dent in your fortunes. As a marketing analogy, your business had the remote control and noone got to choose the channel.
But consumers nicked the batteries and they're not down the back of the sofa, where you'd usually look to restore balance. And before you think about heading down the shop for new ones, realise that they've sold out - everywhere. There's a new power source in town, and only your customers know where the keys are.
Since you have few options to influence your buyers these days, you better make sure those remaining are refined and packing a punch like never before.
I'm talking about content marketing and customer service. Those, my friends, are your secret sauce.
Content Marketing's Role
In 2014, the world obsessed over content marketing. For what it's worth. Because really, content marketing sounds like one of those phrases that your boss throws around at meetings. "Washing its own face", "throw it up the flag pole", "death by a million cuts", "more than one way to skin a cat", "content marketing". You get the idea. Content marketing is the cry of a desperate man. I say it's vital because what it represents, is.
Content marketing is modern marketing driven by the company. It's your chance to positively affect your customer. It's your way of putting your story out there in a way that is meaningful, authentic and valuable.
Take a look at Dollar Shave Club's final ads of 2014. In any doubt about what they do? Unsure if you need them? Dollar Shave Club knows story's impact, and it's not afraid to use it.
So get your story straight. Find what you offer that is hard to reproduce by others, and understand how your business DNA differs from the competition. Then let rip. In the testing phase to see where your customers are, and how they bite, use any conceivable channel - podcasting, videos, Slideshare presentations, ebooks, face to face workshops - anything that connects you to your customer communities.
Once you start moving the needle, it's time to stick at it. Don't give up if you're not smashing targets in the first couple of months - with content marketing, you have to play the long game. But it's all yours.
Online, content marketing is probably your only chance these days to influence how your customers talk about you, refer you, and stick with you. Being the thought leader and expressing yourself where your customers are, is communications gold.
Customer Service's Role
Content marketing's twin sister in sustainable success for your organisation, is customer service. In my last article at Professional Academy, before I humiliated myself on camera with my Christmas tree sidekick, I talked of how once you've made sure your goods for sale are the best they can be, customer service is your best ally.
You can never spend enough time or money on customer service. You cannot impress customers too much. You can get the balance wrong - see the difference between how Amazon chief Jeff Bezos says the best customer service is none at all, versus how his associates at Zappos can spend ages on live chat with a shoe-loving customer discussing the minutiae of life - but you cannot delight enough your customers of today or tomorrow.
If you're even dipping your toes into social media, there's an expectation you'll be there round-the-clock. Setting boundaries in your bio is essential - if you're manning the fort from 9 to 5, say so. And if you're on Twitter, sending a signing off Tweet at the end of the day makes a big difference.
Bending over backwards for customers is what differentiates those that win, from those that don't. Understanding your resource limitations is what ultimately will decide how often your punters get the special treatment - but whatever you decide, be consistent.
Because the remote control is no use any more. and it's the customer who decides whether to flick your Off switch.
Former journalist, editor and company owner Dave is now the web and social media officer at WLCT, a charity operating leisure services for councils. After years making his way through the marketing maze he decided to go back to basics and learn how to do it properly with Professional Academy and CIM. Follow his progress on this blog and feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter to ask about his experiences.
If you would like to Join Dave on a CIM Marketing Qualification Course you can contact Professional Academy for some advice or Download a copy of the Marketing Prospectus today.