Most of us in marketing realize consumers have grown more and more empowered in the internet age, meaning traditional sales and marketing mediums are becoming less and less effective. To compete in this environment, businesses need to change their methods from traditional forms for marketing to true customer engagement if they want to succeed in building strong customer loyalty and ongoing relationships with their client base.
The last several years have brought about a fundamental shift in how people purchase goods and services in our society, and this has naturally been followed by a corresponding shift in how companies are marketing to those buyers. As consumers shift to Do Not Call lists, digitally record their favorite television shows and skip commercials while watching them or bypass their local cable company altogether and pay a provider like NetFlix to provide their favorite shows directly, our marketing culture continues to move away from the erstwhile effective “interruption-based” marketing model to one that is “permission-based.”
Some companies are doing this well, while others are most definitely lacking. Early in my sales career, I recall being taught a customer who has a positive experience with a company will tell three people while those with a negative encounter will tell 10 people. However, in this day and age that is no longer the case. Whether customers have a positive or negative experience, they now have the capability via social media to tell hundreds or even thousands of people.
Recently I saw a Facebook post from a friend, who was standing at the airport in New York and having an awful experience with her airline. In real time she posted her frustration on her wall, and this is a woman with over 4,000 friends on Facebook. Dozens of them joined in with comments to her post expressing similar dissatisfaction with the same airline.
Despite having never tried the airline myself, I know I will never use them because of a single experience a friend of mine had on a single trip to New York–that is the power of social in the age of the empowered consumer.
On the flip side of that, however, when consumers feel engaged by companies and form a relationship with the brand, the opportunities for businesses to leverage that brand awareness and customer engagement across multiple channels are virtually limitless if handled effectively.
Recently, my chiropractor shared a YouTube video he produced regarding headaches and relieving them naturally through spinal realignment. I am a big fan of my chiropractor! After experiencing lower back pain while working out for the past couple of years, I went to him and after only two treatments can now lift weights and go running with no back pain whatsoever. He also lets me stop by his house for a realignment if it’s more convenient some days than going to his office.
So when I saw the link to his video on his Facebook timeline, I gladly shared it with all of my contacts on Facebook and LinkedIn, giving him access to hundreds of additional viewers (read: prospects) than he would have otherwise been able to reach. Again, this is the power of social, and whether companies take advantage of the possible benefits of truly engaging their customers, or fall victim to the negative power of social because they are not effectively turning their customers into promoters, will determine the success or failure of their business in the age of the empowered consumer.