We make choices every day that affect the success of our marketing. But how many of those choices inadvertently take us further from the customer rather than closer?
Many of us make choices to embrace new technologies or communication channels that we believe improve engagement. In fact, the way customers engage may have evolved so far ahead of us that no technology or communication channel is going to help. Instead what we will see is a gradual decline in sales and a dilution of our customer base.
Why? Because we are still trying to sell to customers instead of enabling them to make better choices.
Deepen Our Understanding of Customer Need
Saying the customer has changed a little is like saying that in 2008 we had a bit of an economic downturn. Customers have grown impatient waiting for corporations to catch up and what we see rapidly evolving is the new framework of Customer-to-Customer (C2C). If we look from 30,000 feet, this evolution might seem inevitable. It all boils down to the question: “Where does the knowledge lie for customers to make better decisions?” The answer is with other customers.
C2C is not some fancy term for a business peer network. C2C is a major shift in behavior by customers that has them learning about your products and services from anyone but you. The result is an enlightened customer who has generated an opinion on your brand from your customers, analysts, and the marketplace. This creates new marketing and sales challenges---challenges for which many companies are unprepared.
Get Back in the Game
So how do we integrate ourselves within this new C2C-driven market? How do we influence the influencers within these communities? The answer lies in how we engage with customers and how relevant we become to the customer lifecycle---not only within the acquisition stage of the relationship but right through to developing better, stronger customer relationships to drive long term value for the business.
If you attended the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston earlier this month and took part in the Customer Acquisition versus Customer Development debate, you may have been one of the many that declared both were required, and that answer is 100% correct. The balance of each one within your enterprise depends on many factors, but what has become clear is that within the new C2C paradigm, a balanced approach was the best solution.
The ability to enable customers to help drive your business forward is the new reality.
Will you embrace it?