The voice of the consumer has never been more important to a company than now. Marketing has traditionally functioned on a top-down model. That is to say that companies used all their resources to come up with a logo, slogan, and static image that appeared in commercials, magazine ads, in-store display material, and brochures. How times have changed!
With the advent of the Internet and social media tools, the nature of building your consumer base has evolved. Marketers can no longer win over customers by manipulating them with catchy lines and controlled taste tests. I remember the commercials where a company would pit its product against the competition in a taste test. The unbiased participants would taste both products labeled with A or B and say which one they thought tasted best. The commercial would allow us to watch the person say that the sponsor of the commercial’s product tasted best and then, at best, hear a five sentence statement on why it beat out the competition. The company would rely on those “testimonials” to sway the public to purchase their product.
Taste test testimonials have now been replaced with consumer-generated forums, blogs, reviews, tweets, Facebook, and other social media postings. These powerful tools have, in essence, taken away business’ power to dictate the communications agenda and placed it squarely in the hands of the consumer. So what is a company to do? How should it approach its marketing strategy given the new voice given to the consumer? Marketing agencies and departments need to shift from the traditional top-down, static positioning of their product or service in front of the eyes of the consumer, and join in the discussion. Here are some specific bottom-up, conversational, marketing ideas:
- get a Facebook page,
- put a review or feedback section on your website,
- provide as many different “contact us” options as possible,
- make online chat a possibility,
- post a video on YouTube,
- invite customer’s to submit an original commercial that you’ll put on your website,
- get Facebook, Google +1, Tweet, and share links on your page,
- participate in forums,
- give links to positive reviews written by a third-party, and
- address negative reviews in a positive manner.
These are just a few ideas of how to join in. Embrace the empowered voice of the consumer and make it work to your advantage. Instead of devoting resources to generate the profile of your customer, let the true profile of your customer come to you. Monitoring the social tools that are being used by your customers helps ascertain a true, organic identify of your audience. A company may think that their product or service targets a specific audience without realizing that it is actually meeting more success with another audience. Another benefit to embracing and encouraging the voice of the consumer lies in the fact that free and open discussion has the potential to create additional buzz about your product or service.
This leap of faith in acquiescing some marketing power to the consumer is definitely a leap of faith. Control freaks can barely imagine letting go of the reins to such an extent. However, joining the company’s voice with that of the consumer does not ultimately result in “letting go of the reins” but in harnessing and monitoring the opinions and comments of those that the company is trying to please anyway. So, get out there and join the conversation. If venturing into the virtual world of social media and Internet dialogue seems too foreign or new to you then solicit the services of content companies like My Web Writers to handle your social media needs.