We all have that friend. You know the one. They tell you everything about their life, prattling on and on without even thinking to ask how you are doing. Then we have the friends that start by asking. They start with your needs and are interested in what makes you tick first and foremost. Those are the type of friends we all connect with on a much more meaningful level.
So why does this matter at all in the marketing world? Marketing has changed. Consumer interests drive today's purchase experience, not brands. They do not want to be treated as a "sale." Rather, they expect brands to know them as people and engage with them as a helpful, caring friend would.
Why does today’s consumer expect this personal relationship and experience with brands? Let’s break down 3 key reasons contributing to this shift in who drives the purchase decision:
1. Consumers are always connected.
We live in a multi-device world, streaming our favorite shows from our couch while shopping on our tablet and waiting for the latest Instagram notification to pop up on our smartphone. So many devices offer so much opportunity for brands to connect with consumers in unique and meaningful ways, but they must do so consistently across all of these channels.
Today’s hyper-connected consumer has reinvented how to move through the funnel. Gone are the days where a brand would herd consumers from awareness to evaluation then on to purchase using one-size-fits-all messaging. Consumers now bounce from awareness to evaluation and back to awareness with research always at their fingertips.
Connecting with today’s consumer means messaging needs to be personalized, needs to provide the answers consumers are searching for, and needs to be accessible via any device or channel.
2. Consumers are mobile dependent.
We have all had that ‘naked’ feeling when we have forgotten our phone and had to exist without it for some amount of time. Yep, we’ve become dependent on our phones. They often are the last thing we look at before falling asleep and the thing that wakes us up in the morning.
Currently, mobile users are growing twice as fast as the global population and we now have more mobile devices than people in the world. This offers brands a new level of connection to consumers in real-time.
Succeeding means being there for a consumer when that moment arises, from a last minute restaurant search to solving that age old question: how to make the best grilled cheese. Winning these moments that matter means being ready with helpful guidance for consumers to reach out instead of standing on the soap box shouting for all to hear.
As consumers continue to turn to mobile, brands tuned into their audiences will find out what consumers are asking, and have answers available when they ask.
3. Consumers crave authentic brands that add value.
Consumers do not want to be told about the features of a brand’s latest widget and why to buy it, at least, not yet. Instead they want one simple question answered: ‘How will you (brand) help improve/simplify my life?’
Consumers demand experiences from brands that guide them and deliver useful content to bring joy to their lives. They don’t only want to have a transactional relationship with a brand; they want to be a part of a brand and share in that brand’s mission.
Consumers today value authenticity and transparency, and can detect BS better than ever. Brands that will succeed are those that embrace who they are not try to morph into something that is not true to their character.
Slack (a popular communication tool we actually use at TrendyMinds) is a shining example. Slack’s mission is to “make people's working lives simpler, more pleasant, more productive.” Yes, they are a technology company, but they humanize their brand and customer support to be approachable and authentic. They connect as people first because at the end of the day consumers just crave a genuine and relatable interaction.
So what can you do as a marketer to best connect with today’s consumer?
Treat your consumer like you would a close friend. Share with them, listen to them and most of all, genuinely care about them. It sounds obvious, but in order to have a level of authenticity that today’s consumer will buy into, you need to practice what you preach.
In order to create memorable and valuable experiences, brands will need to develop and embrace a level of intimacy we’ve kept exclusively for personal relationships. Commit to and deliver relevant, personalized experiences across all of your marketing channels. Commit to being human and developing an emotional connection with consumers. And commit to approaching them as friends first so that they will grow into brand loyalists in the future.
We will dig deeper into this concept of brand love and the role emotion plays in today’s marketing in upcoming blog posts, so please stay tuned!