Today I am live blogging from Arkansas! How cool is that? I am actually writing this whilst in a talk at SoFabCon from Tami Cannizzaro, Executive Director of Marketing for IBM.
The topic is essentially change. Marketing, advertising, connecting with customers – it has all changed dramatically over the last few years. More and more people are turning to social media for news and information, and individuals are looking online for reviews and recommendations. Expectations are high and companies who fail to adapt their traditional Mad Men style advertising model will find themselves left behind.
According to Tami, there are three things that you have to think about as a brand in order to create that consistently excellent customer experience.
Build a data rich view of your clients
As much as we may resist, companies are gathering data about us every time we make a purchase. They’re not just watching what we buy, but how we buy it. Airline companies for example don’t want to know just how often you fly, they want to know where you’re going, where you prefer to sit, what films you watch, what snacks you buy – the opportunities for building a picture of an individual are endless.
As a brand, you need to be gathering as much data as you possibly can, at every stage of the shopping process. More importantly, you need to use that data to make your marketing interesting and relevant and make your customer feel like you know them. (Because you do.)
Imagine you are a pet shop. You can’t send the same email to a dog person and a cat person can you?
Build a client centric system of engagement
Have you noticed how the internet seems to be able to read your mind? I looked up a handbag recently and now my margins are full of handbag ads, every day giving me a little nudge about something they think I might be interested in. This isn’t an accident.
As brands become more accessible and personal online, individuals have very high expectations of their relationships with them. Shoppers are looking for relevant and interesting information, engaging content that speaks to them, not just a hard sell. Although we’re in the US, Tami gives the example of Boots and their Advantage Card system. Not only does the Advantage Card give you discounts on your shopping, but it targets these offers based on your spending patterns so that individual customers get offers that are relevant to them.
Define the core character of your brand
Knowing your customer is crucial, but you also need to know yourself. What, as a brand, are your core values? If you’re not sure, ask your staff. Why do your employees work for you? What do they like about the company? What is it that you really stand for?
You don’t need to be the cheapest, the fastest, the most hi-tech, but you need to be clear and passionate about what it is that makes you special so that your staff and your customers know exactly what you are about and can advocate on your behalf. Yeo Valley is a great UK example of this. Despite huge growth over the last few years they remain at their core a family business that cares about producing a great product. As a blogger, I have had great experiences with Yeo Valley, and know that they are one brand that bloggers trust. This strong identity and commitment to developing long term relationships and loyalty makes their blogger advocacy programme extremely successful. (You see? I am advocating right now…)
What do you think of these principles? As a consumer, what brands do you love and loathe for their marketing and customer service?
I’m really starting to LOATH brands that invade my Facebook page with XX friend loves XX brand. I know for a fact that my friends are not FANS of Appliance Direct or Amazon. Leave out friends along BRANDS. Finding it hard to find what my real friends are actually up to among all this FB advertising.
Yes, Facebook advertising is gross!
Really good article,I feel there is a invasion on privacy. As a small independent retailer there is only so much information we should gather and the rest should be down to hard work and decision making.
I think it can feel like that, but it is a reality of modern marketing I fear – the brands that are going to do well are the brands that really know the habits of their customers and who use this information in a way that makes a customer feel special rather than ‘watched’.