At it’s core, for marketers, social media comes down to trust. Can a brand have an open dialogue with its customers in an authentic, honest and transparent way? Can trust be built between said customer and the brand?
The answer to this is yes.
We see great examples of brands developing deep and meaningful one-to-one relationships with their customers. Brands like BMW, Sears and Axe are having great impact building this trust in places like Facebook. It’s all happening because they understand the true value of one-to-one marketing is building trust and thinking long-term.
What this relationship does is create a trust that leads to product enhancement and product improvement. Because the customer is tied much more closely to your brand, and trusts their voice is being heard, they will give you what amounts to gold. They give you customer knowledge and customer insights which have high value no matter what your business. It goes beyond your run-of-the-mill CRM and leverages new ways to interact with customers.
Too many today look at social media as yet another “channel” to push the same mass media marketing messages used in brand advertising. While brand advertising remains a key part of the overall marketing mix (something that will not change), you cannot simply retrofit traditional marketing messages and use those in places like Facebook or Twitter. They are one way push communications. With the amount of information the average consumer is bombarded with on a daily basis, you simply can’t make that mistake in more personal and 1:1 communications.
Customer loyalty programs and discounts are good ideas and they work in many ways. I would never advocate their value is diminished or no longer necessary. At the same time, people today want more. They want that offer or loyalty program tailored to their specific needs, wants and desires. A blanket 10-percent discount helps drive traffic but imagine if that include an offer more relevant to your customer’s choices. Instead of a blanket 10-percent, perhaps you give them a discount on their favorite item. That tells them you’re spending the time to get to know them and what they like and don’t like. That’s what more and more people are expecting.
All of this requires a true commitment to understanding the customer at the 1:1 level. That takes resources and the ability to think both short and long term. Many do it well and others still try it and then abandon. That’s the equivalent to marketing suicide, in my opinion.
We live in a time when 1:1 communications and marketing is more meaningful than ever. That opportunity comes with much responsibility and commitment. Brands who are going to understand and utilize it well will reap the benefits.
Those that don’t will only move further and further from knowing their customers and building the trust they demand.
- Image courtesy of David Armano