When was the Customer Experience ever NOT a Priority?

I have a hard time processing statements like this:
“Meeting the expectations of today’s consumer is tricky business.” These are really common types of statements in today’s digital centric, retail world and I’ve been seeing them a lot over the last couple of years. It’s as if the retail customer experience has changed. I mean like really changed. Since the dawn of retail time, A product is sold and a product is bought. If the retailer was nice to you, it was a plus. If the retailer knew your name, even better. If the product was good, that’s great. If the product was great, even better. If the product is inferior, then all bets are off. If the retailer, could care less, then consumers spoke with their dollars and their feet.

That has not changed. Even today.

What has changed is the ability to learn more about the customer. What hasn’t changed is the way you’re supposed to treat the customer. What hasn’t changed is giving the customer a great product or service. Why is this any different today than it was a hundred years ago? Has technology caused a greater divide in the customer experience? Maybe. I thought it was to close the chasm that was brought on by competition and choices. The thinking was that because marketers were now armed with lots of data there would now be a more harmonious relationship. A better customer experience.

Marketers have become so obsessed with tools and resources that drive sales, that they have forgotten about, wait for it, the customer and the experience. This is not a difficult thing. Sometimes I think that marketing stacks get so high that marketers and retailers can’t see the customer that’s standing behind them. To hear companies state that they are now, more than ever, going to start focusing on the customer, just baffles me. When did this change and why did it ever? Why are we making it so difficult?

 

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Why Snapchat Content and the Longevity of Social Media Content are so Similar

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Follow me here. The principal concept of Snapchat is that pictures and messages are only available for a short time before they become inaccessible. They become obsolete if you will.

When a brand pushes out a “piece” of social media content, they’re hoping that content will move the needle in the form of a standard KPI, i.e. mentions, likes, favorites or followers. How long are brands hoping that content will last? Certainly 24 hours. Then they rinse and repeat, right?

Recently in a MIT Sloan Management post, I read the following in regards to business value in creating social media content:

How can businesses and others reverse this trend and reap more enduring benefits from social media? For starters, it will take a fundamental change in focus.

What most people/brands don’t understand is that users and consumers have been conditioned to consume content in snackable bits now. Their attention spans have been reduced to anywhere from 12 seconds to 24 hours and they move on. Brands have to act accordingly.

Particularly when a brand has about 15 seconds to get someone’s attention when they land on their website, the words and images become that much more important and impactful when trying to derive an action.

The need to have an over-arching strategy to every social media platform is not only a key to success but it should be a mandate. Does that mean a brand should use them? No. But marketers need to understand how each platform relates to not only what they want to do but also in how it might relate to its current customers but future prospects. What do the people want? Give it to them.

It’s not so much the what as it is the how. That means twitter content will not necessarily play well on Facebook and or Facebook content will not necessarily work on Linkedin-particularly after LinkedIn’s latest site changes*

What we’re experiencing right now thanks to the Snapchat generation* is that brands are being forced to create content, messages, and strategies that become antiquated in less than six months. If it’s about branding and creating awareness and thought leadership, then there is indeed an intense pressure to be interesting every day.

I used to say that digital obsolescence only applied to products and platforms but now it appears that it now applies to content itself.

Clearly, marketers and brands have got to elevate their game of being interesting and compelling every day at midnight.

 

 

Don’t Mistake Activity for Effectiveness in Social Media

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The world of the content marketer/social media marketer is changing. I had mentioned in a previous post how it resets every day. When it does reset, we no longer are responding to what our readers, followers and fan say as much as we’re responding to what the analytics tell us in regards to consumption habits and trends from the previous day. What that tells us and what a lot of old school social media marketers will tell you (old school being about eight years… ) is that the art of engagement has now become a science. The conversations, have been lost.

How do we get back to our roots, to that happy place, to that place where social is social again?

Mack Collier talked recently about how Twitter just isn’t the same anymore and blames it on a lack of conversation and in a recent New York Times piece on specializing to survive this quote jumped out at me:

“It’s becoming harder and harder to separate the wheat from the digital chaff. The problem with the Internet is anyone can post, so it’s hard to know whether you are looking at a fact or pseudofact, science or pseudoscience.”

Clearly, we are all suffering from a need for speed. A rush to crank the content out. We’re so enamored with the platforms that allow us to say something quickly, or publish or push out a piece of content in just 2-3 clicks, that we have lost our way. We have lost our ability to have conversations and in our desire to want conversations. In fact brands and the companies that monitor brands have even redefined engagement.  Just go look up the definition.

The definition of engagement is that … there is no definition!

We can fix this though. It’s simple and it’s in the title of this post. Don’t mistake your social media activity for social media effectiveness. Measure your effectivensss in connections made and conversations had and realtionships created; and not on the quantity of what your pushing out and the number of places that you’re pushing it out on. All that does is dilute the message.

We all need another set of eyes

As a business owner, at the end of the day, you’re in business to sell a product or service which means that you may know that product backwards and forwards, but does that mean you know how to market it? Maybe. Does it mean that you know digital marketing/ social media marketing? Does that mean you know e-commerce? Maybe not.

Some SMB’s prefer to do it all. Some can, some can’t. Some try, some fail. Enter the third party.

I’m having a conversation with a friend right at this moment in which he’s saying that the only thing constant in life is change. I agree, especially in social media. His point?  People who run companies cannot do it all. But they try, they struggle, they dabble, and thus think they have it under control. Perhaps everyone needs that extra set of eyes on some aspects of what they do. Business owners need to understand that having  another set of eyes is not necessarily a bad thing. The key is knowing when you need them and swallowing your pride to admit that you need them.

At the end of the day, you need to do what you do best. If you’re a doctor, asking you to market your product was not part of what you learned in medical school.

Social changes every day, so being an expert is a tall task. Being an expert in what you do takes time, takes effort and takes commitment. Can you be an expert in everything that you do in your business? For digital marketers, being connected to your network at least allows you stay abreast of what changes daily in the space. You take what you learn daily everywhere you go. Translation-How can you run your business and being effective with digital marketing? Especially if you’re a click and mortar business.

Beyond  digital and social media and taking a broad lens approach to life, and knowing that we are all in some sort of bubble begs the question. Doesn’t having another set of eyes help you? Well there ya go…

Leverage Multi-Social Media Platforms to Tell Stories

 

The emergence of transmedia storytelling over the past decade has lead to or created some unique opportunities in social media.  First, let me back up and quickly explain what transmedia is to the uninitiated and in full disclosure mode I hadn’t really heard of the term up untila few weeks ago, but I dig the term.  

Transmedia, according to Henry Jenkins a professor at USC is “the art of conveying messages themes or storylines to mass audiences through the artful and well planned use of multiple media platforms”

Multiple media platforms. Boom.

So let’s think through that quickly about the multiple platforms that you, me, and your organization can now use to convey your key message themes: Blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Forums, Websites, QR Codes, Group Buying sites, and LBS( location based sites)-to name but a few.

Transmedia is a cool word, and though I’ve not used it that much, the important line or word for me from the above ethereal definition is this. It’s all about story telling. A good friend once told me that we shouldn’t sell as much as we should tell stories, and you know what?

He’s right. We should tell more stories.

What’s cool is that digital media’s variety of platforms allow people and companies, equally, the ability, though some do not take advantage of it, to do just that-tell stories. Rich stories. The advent of open source blogging platforms like a Drupal or a WordPress, and the creativity that Youtube has allowed, have given users the ability to tell these rich verdant stories of their lives, our lives, and the myriad ways in which they touch us and we connect with them.

That’s cool.

So where is the opportunity? There are good marketers and Ad people that make a difference digitally. Not all of them are in it to use CGI to create a talking dog to sell a can of beans. The story tellers are the one’s leveraging the power of digital. These are people toeing the line of brilliant social and visual  creativity who are going out  and telling stories that open our senses, our eyes, our ears and cause us to respond in a mutual dialogue.

That’s part social media and part real life. It’s real people telling real stories of their lives, their  experiences and their challenges to each other and sometimes its not pretty. It’s social cinema verite’. It’s story telling.

Quit selling and go tell stories.

How aware are you, that you are a consumer?

Sometimes we forget that we have the power. Even those of you who are marketers or that work for brands forget that you are the demographic. you are your demographic. How do you want to be marketed to? Are you down with personalization? permission based marketing? Disruptive technologies? How do you want your content delivered to you? Flip the situation. Sometimes I forget that buying power is shifting to us. The voice of the customer is the new black.