Being successful in today's business environment will require a business-to-consumer (B2C) mindset, knowledge of your customer's digital footprint, and the delivery of experiences that are relevant.
So, what is required to cope with today's changing environment, and what do you need to do to avoid the pitfalls?
The following four steps will help you navigate through the challenges and connect with your customer.
1) What was good in the past should stay there. Do not try to impose marketing principals from the past into today's market. Marketing is not about telling the customer what they will need, or creating snappy catch phrases, it is about listening to your customer, engaging your customer, and delivering what they are asking for and what is important to them. Trying to implement old marketing principals into the social media world is like trying to install a rotary dial on a smartphone.
2) Ask, Listen, and Engage, but Don't Tell. As noted in bullet 1, the customer drives everything on the Internet. Therefore, learning what your customer's problems are, regardless if they are relevant to your product or service, will help you understand their mindset. The social media world allows for getting to know your customer on many different levels both within the work environment and personally. You may not be able to engage all customer challenges, as many will be outside your product or service, but if you can create a divergence and engage them in other ways, you may be able to establish a bond.
3) It is not the message that counts, but who delivers the message. The connected world has made messengers out of all of us. The social world allows a single post to be broadcast to a ‘like' group of followers who have opted into your social world (example, Likes on Facebook). Connecting with customers allows information to be spread over channels that similarly minded people like to frequent during their time on the Internet. Trying to determine which channels are best to distribute your message may be found in following the thread of conversations. Information from similarly minded people carries more weight and validity than from strangers. In marketing, they say it may take a customer seeing an advertisement 20+ times before they "recognize it," this it is information from a stranger and they need to qualify it before accepting it. While information recognized from similarly minded people within the same social setting will be accepted at a much quicker rate.
4) Change is Inevitable, Risk is Inevitable. The connected world is driven by change, so you not only need to embrace change, but you need to manage and plan for it. With change comes risk, which as I noted is inevitable. There is no roadmap or recipe for success, except that of planning for change and managing through risk. By their nature, new channels and new concepts across the Internet are unpredictable, and as people traverse the concepts, there will be pitfalls and missteps, which is inevitable. It is essential that as a leader in the connected world, that you recognize the opportunities, but be nimble to manage change and risk, as you do not want to be reactive.
Lastly, I would tell leaders in the connected world to not go at it alone, but be decisive. A good leader will create a work environment of openness and transparency both internally and externally. There are too many variations within the connected world for any one person to try to manage, especially when trying to deal with change and risk. Being decisive when you have all the information allows your team to move forward and not get lost with over analyzing change and risk.
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