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Today’s consumer is a different breed.

They are tech smart, digitally savvy, and they demand services and products that meet their changing needs. The rapid evolution of mobile devices, cloud computing, and subscription services have completely changed consumer behavior, and now more than ever, it’s up to marketers to figure out how to communicate and provide value.

Luckily, although customer buying behavior has changed, some of the most basic principles of effective marketing and customer experience still work wonders for us today.

Back to basics: Revitalizing key foundational marketing in a digital world

Marketing is, and always will be, about delivering value to a customer—no technological advances or shifting business practices will change that.

Take a moment to get back to basics and review 7 universal marketing truths that can provide real value to your customers.

1. Stand for something

What’s your mission? What do you stand for? Ask yourself why you do what you do, because money shouldn’t be your only motivator. Instead, make sure your business stands for something meaningful. A good example of a company who chose to stand for something is TOMS with their One for One campaign. Like TOMS, you have to dig deep and think about your purpose, your values, and why your customer should care. That will help differentiate your brand and provide your customers with something unique and meaningful to associate with your company.

2. Understand the human element

People prefer to do business with other people. That human element is critical to maintain if you are going to engage your customers. Keep in mind that each and every visitor to your website is a real person, with a story all their own. A great example of this technique in action is Discover’s “We treat you like you’d treat you” ad campaign. It just goes to show that quality interaction and a great user experience drives customer loyalty.

Think about all the times you’ve been frustrated while stuck in an automated customer service loop. How do your customers interact with your company? Is your website intuitive and simple to use? Are they able to find the information or contact the right person easily? If not, you may be losing business. Remember, the experience you create matters.

3. Word of mouth

Word of mouth is by far the most effective and least expensive form of marketing. Consumers trust their friends and peers. After a complete shift in their business model, Kodak relied heavily on word of mouth marketing to show their B2B customers how they were relevant in the digital age. They knew that their customers were their strongest marketers. It all comes back to the consumer experience and over-delivering on quality and customer service. These elements, as well as a bit of that wow factor, help make it second nature for your customers to market you themselves.

4. Educate your customers

Something many Microsoft partners have had resounding success with in their customer interactions is taking an educational approach. By teaching your customers about what they really need, as opposed to just blindly marketing your products or solutions, you are delivering a real value-add that encourages loyalty. Look at Umpqua Bank’s Open Account podcast for inspiration. By providing accurate, relevant, and helpful information, your customers can make informed decisions that help them to save money, avoid frustration, and build trust with your company.

5. Help others

Whether it’s a local community center or a women-in-business group you contribute to, like Microsoft’s Women in Tech program, think about reaching out and helping other small businesses navigate the waters that you share. This not only helps you feel good as a company, but also helps to build a strong, loyal following. Encouraging employees or even your customers to contribute helps solidify your brand as a driver of positive change. Plus, it often costs nothing but the IP in your brain and some time.

6. Keep it simple

Consumers like to work with companies who make it easy to do business with them. Microsoft partner Rackspace knows how effective keeping it simple can be. Their revamped website is a testimonial to their commitment to creating a simplified customer experience.

Nobody will ever complain about an uncomplicated user experience or how wonderfully responsive your customer service is. In order to engage your customers well, it’s critical to understand your customer journey and make sure all interaction points are seamless and clear. In the present day, this technique applies to your website, your mobile experience, your billing, the availability to speak to a real human being when needed, and so on. Don’t let your business get bogged down in overly complex processes. Just keep it simple. Your customers will appreciate it.

7. Rely on your influencers and advocates

Companies have been depending on their advocates long before marketing moved into the digital realm. But it’s more relevant than ever in today’s world of Yelp testimonials and social media marketing. Microsoft partner CCB Technology certainly knows the power of influencers and advocates. Their series of customer case study videos helps spotlight their greatest advocates, their customers. Putting customer advocates in the spotlight helps build trust with new clients and engages with the people who matter most. You can take the relationship one step further by soliciting honest feedback and taking customer input into serious consideration to improve. It is the power of real world influencers and advocates that will take your brand to the next level.

Fundamentals like these are the bread and butter of any business’s success. Now more than ever before, it’s crucial to create a positive customer experience, deliver value, and stand out from the crowd.

For more tips on implementing business fundamentals like these, be sure to check out Smart Partner Marketing.

What universal marketing truths have proven valuable to you in the digital age? Share your thoughts and success stories in the comments below.

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