I run marketing for Crimson Hexagon. That means most of my day is spent convincing others (at scale) just how amazing, powerful and useful our social media analysis platform is.
The problem is that no one believes vendors anymore, and certainly not what their marketing says. And perhaps they shouldn’t. Most of us marketers are honest folks, and do truly believe that what we have created is the best, but we’re hopelessly biased. We eat, breathe and sleep our own products. Customers know this and tune us out for the most part. What is a marketer to do?
Social Media and the Rise of Powerful Customers
Thank goodness for social media – and the Internet in general. We all know social media has changed the game in so many ways. It has made each individual consumer so much more powerful. Simply put, they can tell the world how we treat them. Fortunes can be made and lost in an instant. If this isn’t power, I’m not sure what is. While some vendors may fear powerful consumers, great vendors are embracing them and what they have to say.
Customers are Your Best Marketers
Right. Of course. We all know that, don’t we? Sure, we know that, but are we really enabling customers to be a powerful force for good inside our organizations? The dirty little secret of marketing is that many marketers know plenty about their own products and services, but not as much as they should about their customers’ needs. Too many marketers stink at the listening part of their jobs. We are great at saying, shouting, blasting — but probably not as good at listening and understanding. Listening to customers isn’t the sexy part of the marketing job, but it informs everything else we do. Customers are using social media to tell you exactly what they want you to do next. They have the power to make you the very best marketer possible. Isn’t that worth embracing?
Social Media Is the “Easy” Way To Understand Your Customers
It used to be really difficult to know what your customers, or a market full of prospects, thought about you or your competitors. Big, expensive, time-consuming traditional market research efforts were your only path. Now listening to customers is easy. Your customers are talking about their experiences with the things you care about right now in social media. And they are not doing it because someone asked them to – it is all unsolicited conversation. There is a sense of truth to it because of this organic, spontaneous nature. You just don’t get this through other kinds of research. And it is fast, which means it is useful and relevant right this very minute. If you understood how your customers or prospects think and feel, what they care about and why, couldn’t you market to them in a more relevant way? Your messages would hit home with high levels of resonance. Your efforts may even be welcomed, rather than dismissed or simply tolerated.
Social Publishing: the Power of Customer Created Content
Customer reviews are powerful. It used to be that a relatively small number of journalists reviewed product and services and we all depended on their opinions to make purchasing decisions. This was true for BtoC and BtoB products. While “professional” reviews are still around, consumer reviews have become much more pervasive and influential. We all have the power to publish. These kinds of reviews, whether formal or informal, are also a rich source of consumer intelligence that can help us be better marketers. Perhaps this is obvious, but how many of us comprehensively gather this insight — good and bad — to learn from and direct our marketing? The rich set of consumer opinions available in social media and other online sources make this prospect a reality right now.
Saving the Day
It may be counterintuitive to say powerful consumers will save the day for marketing, but it’s true. Perhaps it makes more sense when we consider the source of their power: social media. It’s open to customers and vendors alike. Using social media, consumers can share, and we can learn. By learning and ultimately understanding what makes consumers tick marketers can increase the effectiveness of everything we do. We can also have a substantial, data-driven say in what features, products and services get the green light. Because their opinions drive product development and marketing, consumers will be happier and spend more. It’s a virtuous circle and it’s possible right now — brought to you by the social media powered marketer.