In a challenging environment, growth matters more than ever.
The truth is, old age tactics to sell a product or service are no longer relevant in today’s changing environment. The way of the future is not only addressing your marketing concerns, it’s thinking up new ideas to keep your product or service fresh and relevant too.
Enterprises need to rethink the way they engage with consumers. They not only need to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviors, they also need to allow for more open and transparent relationships with consumers.
Consumers have always had the ability to vote with their feet, or with their wallets, they now have more power to influence not only what they buy, but also what others buy. Today, consumers have become ‘professional’ shoppers. Their confidence has grown along with a better awareness of their rights. Consumers’ ability to exercise their power has also reduced their perceived level of risk, and with consumers increasingly knowing where to get the information they need, more prefer to ‘pull’ information, rather than have enterprises ‘push’ information to them.
Empowered by social networks and digital devices, consumers are increasingly dictating when and how they engage with brands. They have become both critics and creators, demanding a more personalized service and expecting to be given the opportunity to shape the products and services they consume.
Consumers have been given a voice and they expect it to be heard. They are also increasingly willing to share their opinions and experiences with others. In some categories consumers are reluctant to buy without independent recommendations and this is disrupting the traditional path to purchase.
As a result, a gap is emerging between consumer expectations and the ability of enterprises to meet them. Enterprises are struggling to keep pace with an ever more fickle consumer.
Consumer power is consolidating with improving access to information, ever widening choice of goods and services, and opportunities to share their experiences more widely. As a result, consumers have become more demanding and many are now more skeptical about the ability of big brands to keep their promises. Many consumers prefer to turn to independent sources to access information rather than go directly to enterprises.
However, while the digital revolution has handed additional power to the consumer, including more information and more choice, it has also increased the complexity of making decisions for consumers. Consumers have found ways of dealing with this ‘tyranny of choice’ and many now use tools such as social media or price comparison websites to inform their decisions and exert their power.
Product or service awareness, which used to be achieved through broadcast media, is now being replaced by Internet search and mobile access. Products in store aisles and on shelves are becoming part of the global digital marketplace where there are no geographical boundaries and multiple choices. Transactions are becoming simpler, seamless and intuitive. The supply driven world is becoming a demand driven one where the consumer is in charge.
More disruptions to the traditional path to purchase are likely to arise as new technologies enter the mainstream. The increasing adoption of wearable technologies will facilitate searching by image, voice and gesture. For example, some of the latest technologies will allow consumers to make voice-activated purchases via iTunes. This will increase the speed of response, giving consumers the ability to buy a song while listening to it using the song recognition service, Shazaam.
This shift in the balance of power between consumers and brands has disrupted the traditional path to purchase. Instead of a funnel-shaped selection process, consumer journeys are now subject to interruptions, diversions and delays. Moreover, when considering a purchase, consumers prefer to ‘pull’ information rather than have enterprises ‘push’ it to them. For example, consumers are now actively looking for inspiration by exploring other consumer social media profiles rather than expecting brands to inspire them through traditional advertising. Post purchase, consumers are not only actively sharing views that influence others, but are also becoming more involved in product development.
The Role For Enterprises
As a result, beyond simply consuming products and services, consumers have also become critics and creators. Enterprises have been slow to respond and have remained siloed with their touch points with consumers. Yet, those that have responded, are really innovating.
Innovators are those enterprises that have started to regain ownership of the consumer journey by;
- Listening: Establishing social listening posts to track what consumers are saying about products or services and engage directly with them
- Inspiring: Developing tools to use customer advocacy and social media platforms to encourage consumers to promote products and services.
- Co-creating: Using crowd sourced ideas and engaging in conversation with active followers
The challenge for enterprises is how to close the gap when dealing with millions of individual expectations.
Enterprises need to invest in developing capabilities to have better consumer centric company-wide business models. Consumer engagement needs to go beyond the marketing function, it requires better collaboration across different parts of the enterprise in managing the different touch points with consumers.
Enterprises need to:
- Decide on the appropriate engagement approach for their brand categories whether it is being activity engaged in the conversation, monitoring it or simply ignoring it.
- Develop content creation and management capabilities focusing on informing and educating consumers rather than just selling to them. Arming consumers with the right information helps them move independently through the shopping journey, creates trust and increases loyalty.
- Invest in technologies and develop analytic capabilities to help integrate and track, across all channels and touch points, every individual journey to offer targeted response in real time.
- Ensure staff at each level of the organisation understand the role they play in serving customers and empower them to make the right decision on the appropriate way to respond to dissatisfied consumers
- Manage reputational risks associated with social platforms by establishing social posts to listen to conversations, engage with consumers and help to share stories beyond the most valued consumers.
Developing a growth strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. In fact, due to changing market conditions, making strategic decisions based on someone else’s successes would be foolish. That’s not to say that you can’t learn from another company, but blindly implementing a cookie-cutter plan won’t create sustainable growth.
Director at The Bureau of Business said, “We are able to work with enterprises to develop innovative and smarter growth strategies that enable enterprises to smooth out inefficiencies, refine strengths and provide better pathways for growth that suit our client’s customers’ needs. This approach is wildly different than those from a vague, one-size-fits-all strategy.”
The power of data is incredible. Sandra added, “Collected data should lend itself to the strategic decision. More specifically, you can use the data from your key indicators and revenue streams to create a personalized growth plan. We can interpret this data and empower clients with a growth strategy that will enable them to keep their brand relevant and meaningful – and naturally lead to growth.
A one-size-fits-all strategy implies vague indicators. But a specific plan is a successful plan. When you tailor your growth strategy to your enterprise and customers, you’ll keep your customers happy and fulfill their wants and needs, which will keep them coming back.” She added.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]