Simple relationships like ‘tea and cake’, ‘strawberries and cream’, and my favourite ‘gin and tonic’, are ones that are unwavering and cannot be replaced, but as far as marketing goes, brands today need to focus on building stronger long-term customer engagement rather than on quick, short-term customer acquisition and individual sales.
With smartphone adoption continuing to rise with an estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide expected to own a smartphone by 2016, the ‘connected’ customer, empowered by social networks and their digital devices, are increasingly dictating what they want, when and where they want it. Brands need to work harder to compete for our loyalty and appreciate that we are the content creators who hold the upper hand. Consumers can now dictate when and how they want to engage with a brand and this switches the power from a brand to a consumer – a real worry for lots of brands who are used to dominating the relationship.
So how can brands regain control?
Enter the important of Relationship Marketing. Brands that can deliver the right content at the right time to the right consumer are more likely to win over a customer who is in turn likely to respond positively, want to shout about their experience and repeat! It’s a fact that well executed personalised marketing can deliver 5-8 times the ROI on marketing spend and lift sales by 10% or more.
Brands also need to recognise, that with the advent of social media the sphere of influence is wider and consumer shopping habits have fundamentally changed. Consumers are not satisfied with walking into a shop and being told what they need to buy just because a shop has lots of product x to shift form the warehouse. If brands can work with these new key influencers like bloggers, engage on forums, review sites and look at how they can still deliver a first class customer experience, consumers will begin to appreciate that a brand really understands him/her and is in turn likely to repay such loyalty.
The brands that will be most effective in today’s marketplace will likely be those that fundamentally rethink their brand experience, developing business models that blend the physical, virtual and community experiences. By doing this, companies will develop emotional customer connections to their brand that drive word of mouth promotions and brand advocates, which ultimately in today’s competitive market place are going to be most critical to survive.