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December 14th was an online shopping kind-of-a-day for me. I had an itch to buy something pretty and expensive for the holiday season. It has been my holiday tradition for the past few years now, and this year was no exception. I decided to buy from the same e-commerce brand that I purchased from, a couple of times this year.
After extensive research on trends, I zeroed down on the perfect dress to buy. When I got to the checkout option, I noticed that the brand did not take any special care in engaging with me. They did not use my historical data to make relevant up-selling suggestions. The process was monotonous. I did not get any special offer; no incentive for being a loyal customer. No personalization and no interaction in general. I was annoyed but somehow decided to still place my order.
The worst part was what happened later.
The next day, I received an ad campaign from the same brand, and this time they offered me a 35% discount for the very same dress that I purchased for full price the previous day. Are you kidding me? I was disappointed beyond words. I decided to never buy from the brand again!
These are mistakes that you cannot afford to make any more. Irrelevance and disengagement are big red flags for your customer.
If you own an e-commerce business, don’t be like this brand.
Understand that your marketing has to move away from high-level promotions to campaigns and messaging that are meaningful, personalized, and relevant. Give preference to your customers more than your products. In short, think beyond the traditional 4 Ps.
The traditional ‘marketing mix’ is outdated. 1960s paved way to the biggest revolution in marketing when E Jerome McCarthy released the concept of marketing mix or as we most commonly call it—the 4 Ps of marketing. Do you remember when brands paid more attention to ‘product’, ‘place’, ‘price’, and ‘promotion’ in a product-centric economy?
I’m not saying these parameters don’t matter, but what’s essential to sustain your business these days is something larger and more meaningful.
Right now, customers want to hear and experience a value-based brand story, a voice that stands for a cause, good relationship with the brand, and, most importantly, relevance in terms of services. In short, customers expect good customer engagement and an unforgettable experience.
Customer engagement is manifesting itself into the next big wave in marketing. Some would say that customer engagement is growing to be the new-age marketing.
When you start appreciating customer engagement as the new marketing, you will understand that empathy plays a very important role in helping you nail your customer engagement strategy. In a relationship-centric economy, where good customer relationships result in revenue generation, it is imperative to shift from traditional marketing nuances and look for strategies that work.
One such thought is with respect to the marketing funnel. Is the marketing funnel valid anymore? If you truly look at a customer journey, it is scattered and hard to predict. We cannot fit customers into specific segments anymore. Each customer is different. And their journeys are different. Some of them go through the traditional funnel whereas others enter the funnel at different junctures, skipping a few transitions. With customer advocacy, some conversions happen even without the customers entering the funnel. Every customer journey has its own timeline as well.
For a customer, every interaction at every single touchpoint matters. Every engagement alters their decision to purchase. It is high time we have a ‘marketing mix’ strategy that fits our customers’ behavior in the current scenario.
I want to specifically write about the 4 Ps that actually matter in today’s economy. And this time, from a customer’s standpoint. These are the true differentiators that would make your customers choose your brand over others.
According to me, the new 4 Ps that matter in today’s relationship-centric business scene are:
People: The heart and soul of your business
I’ve always believed that for your business to succeed in whichever goal you attach to it, it is important for you to get to the core of your business, the one aspect that truly matters—PEOPLE.
That’s why I want to have ‘people’ as my first ‘P’.
The true essence of this new-age marketing mix is relationship building.
In this new-age marketing theory, if I were to attach a shape to the new marketing mix, like a marketing funnel, or a customer engagement pyramid, the one thing that I can immediately think of is an unbiased ‘flywheel’. According to me, a flywheel strategy is unanimous and unapologetic.
A flywheel with ‘people’ in the centre, because ‘people’ are primary. Without people, you have no business. The flywheel will surround people with personalized customer engagement, conversational support, empathetic marketing, and synchronized customer insights forming a highly engaged layer around the people—your customers. It starts and ends at the same point, making listening and feedback as both the first and the last step in the journey of building a strong relationship with your customers. Because, how else can you help them without actually hearing them out! Pretty foolproof, right?
The idea is to turn your business into a brand that people ‘like’ and hope to maintain a loyal relationship with.
Now, we need to understand that ‘liking’ is a universal principle. When you approach it from a behavioral aspect, we know that people prefer to say yes to people they like. Same applies to brands they like, as well.
How do we decode what they like and who they like?
There are primarily three factors in psychology that make us like others: a) we like people (brands) who are similar to us; b) we like people (brands) who compliment us; c) we like people (brands) who cooperate with us towards a common goal.
Brand purpose is a way to make your customers feel similar to you by sharing the same values. Incentives and empathetic engagement can be used to compliment people. And finally, creating context-sensitive campaigns that understand your customer’s goals and communicating personalized solutions can help people understand that we are working towards a common goal. These will be covered in my other 3 Ps.
Purpose: Why you do what you do
My second P stands for ‘purpose’ or simply put, the ‘why’ factor.
Your purpose is what connects you with your customer’s values and belief.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, a brand that revolves around people requires a marketing team that focuses more on building relationships and communicating the brand’s story with a purpose.
August 2006, Elon Musk released the secret Tesla Motors plan that resonated highly with the customers. This is what he said: “So, in short, the master plan is to build sports cars; use that money to build an affordable car. Use that money to build an even more affordable car.
While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options. Don’t tell anyone.” This broke the internet for good.
The last line is pretty much the essence of what Tesla stands for—their ‘why’ factor. That factor which can move hearts and affect purchase decisions.
Tesla, as a brand, is a great example to consider. The reason why Tesla had outstanding sales from the beginning is that they never failed to communicate their purpose, clear and loud.
The people who work for Tesla are galvanized by the ambition behind the brand purpose of the company, which encourages them to be a part of a company with meaning. Similarly, the customers who buy Tesla vehicles are also drawn to the deeper ‘good’ that driving a super cool electric vehicle results in zero emissions to combat climate change, and being on the cutting-edge of a clean energy revolution.
Always communicate the purpose of your brand. Why are you here? Why should your customers choose you? This forms the core of messaging and communication for your brand.
Do you remember Apple’s “Think different” campaign that caused a revolution in marketing?
Through this campaign, Apple established that they were meant for people who think differently. They glorified misfits. As a brand, they stood out as a crazy brand themselves and shouted out to people who were crazy enough to change the world.
This is your brand’s story. Purpose truly reflects on your brand personality and in turn resonates with your brand voice. It helps your brand to have an opinion and perspective. As Simon Sinek points out, a company that knows its ‘why’ factor or purpose is a company that succeeds.
Brand purpose is closely associated with your brand’s vision, mission, and value. There is a thin line difference between how you look at these four parameters, though.
Purpose is ‘why’ you exist, vision is ‘where’ you want to get to, mission is ‘what’ you should do to get there, and values are ‘how’ you would like to behave in order to get there.
Purpose clearly adds meaning to your brand’s existence and gives your customers a perspective to follow and a value to support.
Participation: United we stand
The next P in my new-age 4 Ps is ‘participation’. Participation can refer to two things—enabling customers to participate in the brand’s journey and the brand being a part of the customer’s journey. In other words, proactive and responsive engagement.
This has to be said. With ‘customer engagement’ being the new marketing, ‘ problem-solving’ and ‘helping customers’ are becoming the new parameters to win sales. You should get into the habit of helping your customers and engaging in conversations with them; be present at all touchpoints.
Participation as a goal for your business improves customer engagement and results in customer retention.
Let’s deep dive into proactive and responsive customer engagement. Your engagement strategy should address multiple facets of the customer journey. It’s important to employ different channels and tools that facilitate you to reach out to your customers at different touchpoints of their journey with you.
For instance, you can have an engagement path around social media with a Facebook or a LinkedIn campaign that has a set number of impressions where users get a view of your brand. You can bring those users to visit your social media page, where you interact with them by means of sharing questions and insights. You can enable participation by hosting Q&A sessions or polls where your audience can be a part of a small or big decision.
You can use a drip email campaign to equip brand recall. Emails are a great way to engage with your users at different stages of their journey. You can embed personalized videos in your emails to connect with your customers better.
You can place a live chat tool on your site to proactively engage in conversations with your website visitors. A live chat tool enables multi-fold interaction that is both proactive and responsive. You can run in-app campaigns when the visitor performs a particular action on your page. You can send context-sensitive messages to your visitors based on their intent. The most impressive feature of a live chat tool is that it enables conversational customer support.
Good customer support forms the foundation of customer retention. Conversational customer support warrants an immediate response to customer queries and also enables accessibility at all times.
Lastly, the most important step: ask your customers for feedback. Ask them for their feedback on the product and service. Ask them if something can be made better. Ask them if you’re solving their problem or not. This will help in retrospecting your brand’s performance.
Personalization: What’s mine cannot be yours
Personalization has to be a part of the new-age 4 Ps. It wouldn’t have been a couple of years ago, but you cannot escape this trend anymore.
Personalization refers to tailoring customer experiences based on individual expectations and preferences.
According to Think with Google, 61% of people expect brands to tailor experiences based on their preferences. Furthermore, 90% of leading marketers say personalization significantly contributes to business profitability. As such, leading brands are creating value for shoppers based on their past interactions.
Until now, personalization has been limited to online channels and digital-only channels like personalized websites, personalized online searches, and personalized recommendations. These are still valuable, but these days, customers expect you to have a consistent personalized experience across all channels, be it online or offline. To create an experience that makes the customer feel truly recognized, your personalization platform and strategy need to be in all of those places.
For example, imagine that you have a Friday night ritual of watching a horror movie with some pepperoni pizza from your favorite food joint. You have been doing this every Friday, and you order from the same food delivery app always. Now, imagine that the food delivery app sends you a reminder on Thursday with an option to order that pizza of yours in one click. It also sends recommendations on sides based on your preferences. They give you an offer saying that the drink or dessert is on them. All this addressed directly to your name. An offer that’s truly tailor-made! Who wouldn’t like that?
Now imagine a step further. You go to the food joint directly with your friends one day. With the help of synchronized data insights, the food joint welcomes you and gives you an offer because you are their loyal customer. They ask you if you want to order the usual. The make you feel special. It makes you happy. That’s the true success of personalization done right.
Many brands like Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Spotify have been providing a highly personalized user interface that is constantly updated based on user preferences and past engagement. I spent thirty days observing the trend ‘Personalization’ and documented my thoughts here.
Personalization is truly reimagining the way you can tailor unique experiences for your customers. When handled well, personalization stands as the biggest value proposition for your business, undoubtedly.
Change is the only constant
It’s time we start embracing change and following trends that are engineered around the current business scenario. The new-age marketing mix is one such humble attempt to curate strategies that accelerate growth in your business, keeping in mind the current market stance and today’s customer expectations. It’s time we moved beyond the status quo to establish what works for us in the long-run and document our trials.
Do you have your own 4 Ps that helped you grow your business? Let us know in the comments section.