7 ways your customers have changed the way you do business
Maybe that title should read 7 ways technology have changed the way you do business but as that technology is in the hands of your customers it seems right to say that they have the power.
It’s hard to measure just how much our lives have been changed through the use of mobile devices. We know they’re popular, are loaded with awesome cameras and apps, that ensure we’re always connected throughout the day, but how have these devices changed the business landscape that we now live and work in?
Sometimes we have to look back in order to move forward, (or we could just check Google).
Remember when the telephone was a shared line with the neighbours (a party line) and the only computers were main frames that took up the whole room? Remember when you got your first mobile phone and it was large and cumbersome and the charger even larger?
Now you carry a small computer with big performance in the palm of your hand that allows you to access an Internet library full of information, stay in touch with all of your ‘friends’ tell the world what you are up to and on occasion even makes telephone calls. In fact these devices (mobile phones or tablets) do everything but make the tea (but there is probably an app for that or one coming).
Just looking at the stark contrast between the two images, from St. Peter’s Square during the announcement of Pope Benedict in 2005 and Pope Francis in 2013, gives us some useful insight into how in 8 short years our lives and our relationships have become driven by mobile technology. I’m probably not telling you anything new but to inform you is not the purpose of my writing and musing here, it is more to give you a pause for thought and to remind you that your customers have changed the way in which you need to do business (technically it is technology that has done this but it is your customers who propagate the story) and to ask you what changes you have made to your marketing strategy and your engagement with your customers to accommodate this.
Some of you may think that you have a sound business model and that mobile technology will have a nominal impact on your business. If this is you I’d like to add a word of caution. This was the mindset of companies like HMV and Borders (I loved that book store) who failed (rather publicly) to keep up with their competitors who were quicker to understand, invest and evolve into new business models.
Customers tell you how to interact with them, when and why they will or will not do business with you
And as a business you need to be willing to continually invest – time, energy and money – and adapt to the changes in the mobile and social landscape as they govern the behavior of your customers.
Here are seven things to look out for.
- Your sales funnel has changed
Social media is affecting the way in which consumers make a purchase and also their decision to make that purchase. As a business you need to incorporate this into your sales process recognising that social media needs to be a substantial part of your strategy to raise awareness before the sale as well as attracting and connecting your customers to your brand. Inflexible marketing plans that focus on traditional tactics and media that do not connect directly with your customers and your products/services to your customers are doomed to relegate your company to the back of the line.
- You and your employees need new skills
Knowing your way around the social landscape is just the start. Both you and your employees need to not only understand how mobile technology and social media works, you also need to understand the relevancy to your customers and how your company can fit into the mix.
- You have to be an early adopter
If your customers are changing you need to accommodate that change. It is no longer (if it ever was) good practice to wait and see before you jump in. You need to be aware and calculate how and when to join the throng as being a laggard is totally unprofitable and could be disastrous, just ask HMV (they are strong becoming my favourite case study)
- Your brand must be social
Social is no longer just the ‘Like’ button on Facebook or the ‘share this’ app (if it ever was). It is an integral part of you brand and your brand strategy and as such it needs to be thought about throughout both the development and the delivery process. Instead, you need to consider why consumers share, when they are most likely to share, and how the brand can facilitate this process. The key to social is not to have the most creative social media marketing campaign but to make it easy for your customers to share from within the product or service experience.
- People’s perceptions have changed and you need to be aware
In the Western world, things have become the way we define ourselves: our address, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, the computer we use. (Just look at the i revolution). The importance of these things in our lives will not go away, but today’s measurements are changing. Today people (and not just young people) get status from their networks and access to things, not just ownership of things. How are you tapping into or leveraging this?
- You must demonstrate what you stand for and not just what you do or make
Customers are influenced by who they believe that you are to them and to others almost before they consider your product or service. Anyone in the world of branding knows that consumers have always considered what your brand stands for when evaluating the products of your competitors. That much is not new, but now consumers have more power to shape what you stand for if you don’t do it for them. Decide (before others do for you) what it is you want to be known for and allow that message to permeate everything you say or do.
- Consumers are more empowered armed with greater information and influence
Customers are using technology to determine their decisions and influence the buying patterns of others and as a result often feel more empowered and knowledgeable. Your business needs to be vigilant and stay on top of the game.
Now is the time to grab your customers by the hand, hold on tight and make sure you stay ahead of the game.
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