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Smart Marketing for Smart Customers (What Marketers Need to Know Today)

Our customers are getting smarter every day. But are we performing smart marketing too? I don’t think so.

When I have the chance to look at what most organisations are doing, I see that they are still living in the past of traditional media and have hardly dipped their toes into new media. Or they are using social media but still treating it as if it is traditional media! Neither plan will work. Here’s how marketers should be reaching, connecting and engaging their customers.

 

1. Don’t talk to everyone

We all know that you can’t please all the people all of the time, so why are we marketers still mass producing our messages? In the past, the annual marketing plan requirement was for us to develop a few ads for each of our planned campaigns.

Today with social media, we need a constant flow of new ads and new campaigns, each targeted at a sub-group of our audience, with individual messages. We need to not only to be mobile, but flexible, adaptable and ready to take advantage of any opportunity, the moment it happens.

One  of the best examples of this is still Oreo’s reaction to the power outage at the Superdome during the Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. The cookie’s social media team jumped on the cultural moment, tweeting an ad that read Power Out? No problem with a starkly-lit image of an Oreo with the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.” Read more in this article on Wired.

Since then, we have seen a few more brands “stage” similar events during the Super Bowl; I’m referring to Tide and Snickers of course. What all these memorable moments have, is a deep understanding of both the audience – in this case of the Super Bowl – and their target customers.

Smart marketing focusses on understanding the customers of a targeted group of category users. And accepting to ignore those that don’t fit, even if they are currently using the brand. Are you brave enough to do the same?

 

2. Stand out from the crowd

A recent article in Forbes by Larry Myler mentioned and-out-in-a-crowd-of-competitors/#c0dbd4762fa9″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>7 ways for a br>and to stand out from the crowd. These were:

  1. Provide Legendary Customer Service.
  2. Admit Mistakes and Fix Problems to Build Stronger Relationships.
  3. Be Honest About Your Products and Services.
  4. Come Up With Something New.
  5. Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility.
  6. Start a Blog.
  7. Offer a Guarantee.

What I find interesting about this list is that the first four concern customer service excellence, but the last three are more about the organisation. OK so they should also impact the customer, but not as directly as the first four.

Smart marketing can counter declining customer loyalty

The other thing, for me at least, is that I don’t think any of these will actually make a brand stand out from the crowd! After all, they are the table stakes for the social world we live in today. What do you think?

A survey conducted by KPMG and industry network The Consumer Goods Forum in April this year, found that nearly four out of every 10 consumer products executives think brand loyalty will see a decline among consumers over the next two years. This is a depressing thought, especially as it comes from the very people who should be doing everything they can to build the loyalty of their customers!

For me, to stand out from the crowd, brands have to offer exceptional service and value so that they create raving fans.

To stand out from the crowd, brands have to offer exceptional service and value so they create raving fans. #CRM #customer Click To Tweet

Most products and services today are indistinguishable from each other. That’s why loyalty is at an all-time low.

And to offer such exceptional service to your customers, you have to know them deeply. Know what they value, what they want, what they dream of having, or even what they would love but don’t believe is possible! That’s how you get the raving fans, through continued surprise and delight. That’s smart marketing.

 

3. Be where your customers are

Very few customers are sitting in front of their TVs watching your brand’s commercial in the ad breaks, or listening to your radio publicity during their morning commute or seeing your ads while they read their newspaper. Today they are watching YouTube and Vimeo, or programs streamed directly to their tablets and smartphones. They are then sharing the best content they find on social media with their friends and followers. So where are you?

Now it’s true that digital media and YouTube in particular, got called out earlier this year for fake traffic statistics driven by bots. And as if that wasn’t enough, they were accused of placing some ads in sub-optimal positions alongside objectionable content. However, online is where a lot of consumers get their brand and category information today, so you can’t ignore these video channels.

It therefore also makes sense to take advantage of the content you do control, namely your website.

Make maximum use of the social content you do control, namely your website. #brand #marketing Click To Tweet

How customer-centric is yours? Does it have regularly updated content which is of interest to your customers? Does it encourage engagement and frequent return visits? Does it make it easy to contact you without going through contact forms which then disappear into anonymous hyperspace? It should.

Smart marketing is all about putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers. How often do you do that?

For more details on this topic, I recommend you read “How to Go From a Good to a Great Website: Engage and Convert More Successfully.”

 

4. Be available when your customers need you

We have become an impatient raceand its getting worse by the day!

Smart customers don't wait for sites to load
Source: Kissmetrics

According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. And Kissmetrics reports that 85% of internet users expect a mobile site to load as fast or faster than on their desktop!

This is particularly important if you sell online. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again. And more than half of these would also tell their friends about the poor experience online. Therefore you don’t only lose your current shoppers but potential new ones too!

If you don’t have a shop, then at least you’re on social media, no? Well if so, then the picture is even worse!  showed that 42% of customers who contact a company via social media expect a response within the hour, and 34% expect a response within 30 minutes!

Have I got you worried? How do your numbers compare?

But it’s not all bad news! Do the right thing, fast,and you can turn a complaining customer into a raving fan! Convince and Convert reported that dealing quickly and effectively with customers’ complaints can increase advocacy by 25%. A brand advocate will share their love for your company, their unabashed loyalty and general goodwill with anyone who will listen – on social media too!

Do the right thing, fast,and you can turn a complaining customer into a raving fan! Click To Tweet

Smart marketing means responding to customers on their terms not ours. If that means 24/7 service then that’s what we have to provide, or risk losing them to a more attentioned competitor.

 

5. Never believe you have won loyalty

It is well known that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep one you already have. I have seen estimates of up to five or ten times more! But I think we all agree that it makes sense to do whatever we can to keep our customers loyal.

But in today’s world of never-ending choices, how do we do this?

No matter what business you are in, customers continuously compare on price, service and quality before making a purchase. In fact, research suggests that on average,. How does your business stand up to that sort of comparison?

One way to get a competitive edge is through supplying superior information. A study by Oracle revealed that what people want most is detailed and visual product information (37%), better search capabilities (29%), and easier access to a customer service representative via live help options such as click-to-call or live chat (20%).

People want detailed product info (37%) better search (29%) & easy access to customer service (20%) Click To Tweet

Providing what your customers want, where and when they need it, is clearly an additional role to the more “sales oriented” one that marketers have traditionally played.

Likewise the need to get comfortable with both giving and gathering data. And then analysing the data they get from their customers to effectively deepen their relationships with them.

One great example of this is from the Good Food Guys restaurant group in California who own Split and Mixt stores. They use spend data to analyze their customer-base and uncover their “VIPs.” Last Christmas they surprised these special guests with a personalized stainless steel Swell bottle that could be filled with ice tea or lemonade, for free, every time they visited. The gift makes their most loyal customers feel valued and provides a clear indication to the store employees to treat these people especially well.

These are just five areas of smart marketing that will support your business and provide a clear and positive ROI. After all, that is what marketers are being challenged to provide these days, isn’t it?

Or perhaps your priority for 2018 is in a completely different area altogether? If so, then I’d love to hear more about your plans.

If you’d like help with any of these areas then C3Centricity provides ongoing advisory sessions and 1-Day Catalyst training. Download our brochure for more information.

 

You’re missing out on A Free Communication Channel! (Any guesses what it is?)

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Are you as shocked as I am, to think that there is a free communication channel which most marketers are not using effectively today?

So what is this incredible channel? The Internet? No. Social Media? No.

OK, so everyone is excited about the web and have jumped on board the digital train. But some are already seeing that online advertising is not the “safest” way to communicate.

Take P&G for example. A recent AdAge article stated that:

Procter & Gamble‘s concerns about where its ads were showing up online contributed to a $140 million cutback in the company’s digital ad spending last quarter… 

P&G didn’t call out YouTube, the subject of many marketers’ ire earlier this year, … but did say digital ad spending fell because of choices to “temporarily restrict spending in digital forums where our ads were not being placed according to our standards and specifications.”

Will others follow? I don’t know. But I would like them all to reconsider their total advertising spend in light of this underutilised but highly effective channel that I’m about to share with you. Have you guessed what it is yet? It’s packaging!

Think about it. Packaging communicates in-store, on the shelf as shoppers pass by.

Packaging communicates in-store, on the shelf as shoppers pass by #Packaging #Instore #Retail Click To Tweet

It communicates to users when they take it home and open it. Although for how long? See below for some developments in that area.

And it may also communicate when it’s used, whether it is snacks, drinks, breakfast cereals, cookies, pharmaceuticals or a whole load of other products which are consumed straight from the pack.

So if a pack has the possibility to communicate, why are so few marketers using it?

I believe it’s because they don’t see packaging as a communication channel, which is a serious mistake. After all, it’s free!

There are two very popular posts on C3Centricity on the topic, which you might like to read before continuing. The first is “How Communicating through Packaging is more Informative & Personal” which shares some great examples of how creative pack usage has become the basis of full media campaigns. Click the link above to read more.

The other is “Is your Packaging Product or Promotion?” which talks about why people don’t read instructions – until they need them – but they do read what’s written on packs. Click above to read more.

Both of these posts provide some great examples of companies which have used their packaging to communicate with their consumers. However they are a couple of years old now, so I wanted to update my thoughts on the packaging channel opportunities, as well as the examples I share.

After all, customers have become more demanding in recent years and want to know far more about the products they purchase.

Customers are more demanding & want to know far more about the products they purchase #shopper #purchase Click To Tweet

And if you can’t wait to start a review of your own packaging, why not book a complimentary advisory session with me?

BOOK YOUR COMPLEMENTARY ADVISORY SESSION

Food and Beverages

NHS TRAFFIC LIGHTS
Image source: NHS UK

The F&B category has seen and continues to see the introduction of a lot of packaging laws.

When Nestle launched its "Compass" way back in 2005, most other food manufacturers were keeping things simple. Some had colour codes like traffic lights to indicate calorie content, while others had five or seven bullets on front of pack that showed the ingredient breakdown in terms of daily limits of fat, protein, sugar, carbohydrates etc.

Today, purchasers check far more details on labels in-store before buying. According to research by Prepared Foods and BevNet, they are looking for very specific guarantees in addition to mere ingredients, such as:

  • gluten free, dairy or nut free.
  • no additives or preservatives
  • recyclable packaging
  • healthier packaging materials
  • functional properties such as a good source of calcium, fiber, antioxidants, protein, omega 3 or probiotics.

Unfortunately with such demands for so much information on pack, there is little room for anything else. That is why manufacturers are getting creative with their packaging.

There are so many new ways to use packs for communications, but here are three of the most on-trend tactics today.

There are so many new ways to use packs for communications #packaging #communications Click To Tweet

Smart Packaging

It has always amused me that we spend time reading product contents, but still try to connect electronics or build flat-pack furniture without reading the instructions! Clearly we think we understand technology and furniture better than food, or at least we think we do! Therefore thank goodness that smart packaging is now available!

Smart packaging, including NFC (near field communic­ation) tags, transforms conventional packaging into a digital communication channel with customers. Not only does it transmit information at the point of sale, but also after purchase in the home, with such benefits as refill reminders, freshness alerts or usage tips.

Connected packaging is a real win-win for both manufacturers and customers. It can collect consumer habits and behavior that provides brands with a new level of understanding which can then be used to develop future products.

According to Research and Markets, the global smart packaging market is expected to grow to $52 billion by 2025, thanks to adoption in categories such as personal care, beauty, food, healthcare and pharmace­uticals.

Smart packaging works by tapping on the pack with your smartphone, to receive information about the product, usage suggestions, sourcing and ingredients. This brings an intimacy with the customer that will differentiate the brand from its competitors and hopefully increase loyalty. It also provides a guarantee of authenticity, which is an added benefit in certain categories plagued by counterfeits.

As packaging is also required to show more information on pack, and in multiple languages as sourcing goes global, smart packs have arrived just in time to save the customer from needing a magnifying glass to read what's printed on them. With the aging population in most developed countries today, this is an additional benefit.

 

Free communication on Tapped
Image source: Tapped

Attractive Packaging

Amongst the numerous trends highlighted by Mintel in their report "Five key trends set to impact global packaging markets in 2017" the importance of appeal, especially online, was mentioned. This will mean a desire for packs which stand out from the competition, especially in the smaller sizes on-screen.

 

 

An article on 99Designs shows how manufacturers have risen to the challenge in a number of creative ways:

Free communication on Sweety & Co packs
Image source: Sweety & Co
  • Simpler, bolder designs
  • Exceedingly bright colours
  • Unusual designs
  • Illustrations as narratives
  • Eco-friendly packaging

 

 

There is one additional benefit of unusual or attractive packs and that is their "buzz" value.

There is one additional benefit of unusual or attractive packs & that is buzz value #SMX #packaging Click To Tweet
Free communication on Smash Mallow packs
Image source: Smash Mallow

People love to be the first to share a new purchase when it is out-of-the-ordinary in terms of colour, shape or usefulness. It's a matter of forget the contents - at least the time of a YouTube video clip - and love the look of the pack!

Personalised Packaging

This is not a new trend but has attracted attention from many brands in recent years. In an article entitled "The pros and cons of personalised packaging for FMCG brands" eConsultancy reported that:

Free communication on Heinz soup cans
Image source: WeAreSocial.com

The success of Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign proved that people can’t get enough of  personalisation.

However as they also point out, personalisation is not really "personal" since so many people have the same name around the world.

Enter the trial of true personalisation. Heinz offered their soup range with a "Get well soon ... " message.

Although it was almost twice the usual price per can, the reasons it worked were many. It included a donation to charity for every one sold. It communicated online rather than on TV, adding to the personalised feel of the campaign.

Also in the second year they even allowed fans to vote for their favourite soup to join the tomato and chicken flavours they already offered. (potato and leek won, by the way)

One company that has had less success with its own attempts to copy Coke is Nestle. They proposed a pop-up "KitKat Chocolatory" in London's Westfield shopping mall.

Free communication on KitKat packs
Image source: eConsultancy

It was built on Coke’s naming trend and the success KitKat had with the concept in Japan.

Although the personalisation went beyond the name, with customised toppings and flavours too, it made a number of basic mistakes:

  • The UK is not Japan. KitKat is a cult brand there and has been for years, especially for gifting.
  • The process was digitalised, so people didn't get the chance to make nor even see the bar being made for them - unless they hung around for an hour or so.
  • Purchasers had to wait (at least) 90 minutes before their personalised bar was ready.
  • The "experience" added up to a few moments using a touchscreen; neither personal nor very exciting.
  • It cost seven pounds! 

I believe most of these points could have been corrected if they'd bothered to be a little more customer centric. The text message sent when the bar was ready, while a nice touch, meant providing Nestle with additional information about the purchaser, which no doubt they will use in the future to contact them, whether they like it or not!

I suggest that Nestle learn from how Pret a Manger did pop up retail brilliantly. You can read about it in "Eight ways Veggie Pret innovated pop-up retail strategy" from eConsultancy.

Like Veggie Pret, the KitKat example does include a personalised product offer too. But that's not new. Many food and confectionary brands have been offering these for many years on a promotional basis. Again the prices are higher, but the impact of the product too is greater. At least that was one thing Nestle did get right.

Returning to the topic of packaging, the change in retail, which I spoke about last week in "The Future of Retail is in the Stars - or it is the Cloud?" means that packs too have a new role to play beyond protection and container. They can be a free communication channel too.

In some industries we are seeing a return to non-packaged products where the customer provides their own containers. 

Bulk offering of essentials has been used for years for washing powders, chocolates, candy, juices, wine, vinegar, olive oil etc, but with the crackdown on recycling, many purchasers are leaving the cardboard outers in the shops.

Manufacturers will have to get smarter in the way they communicate, when their outer no longer exists. It will certainly make communicating even more difficult unless manufacturers follow the trend to smart packaging.

What do you see as the future of packaging? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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