Previously, I discussed about how to develop and market a product. In this post, I am going to discuss how you can build a brand for tomorrow. While attending the Pivot Conference in New York City, I learned that whether you are a start-up company or a large fortune 500, it imperative that you react and anticipate changes in your customers’ needs. For a brand to be successful today and in the future it has to be customer focused. In the past, brands would create content that consumers had to like. Today brands are co-created through shared experience with the consumers. This co-branding effort is happening on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Customers are sharing their experiences with the use of different products. They are liking their products on Facebook, sharing their thoughts on Twitter and posting YouTube videos. Brands such as Coke and Pepsi are great examples of this. Consumers want relationships with brands, they want to be part of the story.
It is imperative for brands to field consumer issues promptly. On Social Networking sites, every consumer has a voice. Social Media had enhanced the power of local word of mouth marketing and turned it to Global Marketing. With a few keystrokes, a message could be spread to the masses as the speed of sound. It goes without saying that if you a building a brand, you need to be where your customers are. So where are your consumers on social media? Social media is a place to share ideas and find information. The first generation of the internet was the era of the search engine. (Google) This generation of the internet is going to Facebook. When people make buying decisions, they are asking their network for advice. People also post product reviews on these sites and ask for advice. Another thing people are doing is friend sharing. Friend sharing is when people take pictures of products and ask their friend’s opinion. Friend sharing can also take the form of just asking your friend’s opinion about whether to buy a product. Earlier this evening, I purchased a book on Amazon.com. After I checked out, the site asked me if I want to share this purchase with my network on Twitter and Facebook.
If you are a brand presented with this information, you might be thinking this is great but how can I capitalize on this information? Here are the steps that every brand should take.
1 Do research on your target market. How do they buy the products that you are selling? How do they interact with brands? I spoke about this in my last post. Is this group using social media? If yes, then how? What purpose are they using it? Where are they dominant, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc…?
2 Make sure that your products and services are top quality. Nothing will sink you faster than products and services that do not deliver what they promise.
3 Have your products tell a story. The brands of today and tomorrow are co-created as I said earlier. In other words brands no longer own the content created. Your brand has to be focused on the needs of your customers. Make sure to engage your audience and have them create the content with your brand. Customers are engaged through experiences. Your brand has to be focused on the needs of your customers. When content is co-created, there is more engagement. This higher level of engagement will lead to more sales of your products and services.
4 Be sure to engage industry influencers of the products and services you provide. Provide these people with free sample products. Allow these people to try them out and share their thoughts with their networks.
5 Make sure your brand is on Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter, YouTube and Google+ allocating your advertising budget based on how your target market uses these sites. Have multiple pages on these sites that are culturally relevant to each country and part of the world your brand does business in. Your brand should also have multiple websites with blogs that are informative and user-friendly. These sites and blogs should provide links to social networking sites.
6 Handle any customer complaints and issues immediately. If the complaint is voiced on a social networking site, address it and do not ignore the concern. As a brand online, you can set your reputation in this new era. Local Word of Mouth Marketing has become Global Marketing. Content can be shared on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook. What is your brands reputation online? You can use reputation management tools such as Google alerts to see the kinds of things people post about your brand.
7 Consumers see brands as one entity and not a series of department. Sales, Marketing Customer Service, Engineering and Product development need to be structured into specific product task-forces to be able to meet customers’ needs and ultimately anticipate future needs. Members from top management need to be a part of these task forces.
Anticipating customer needs and wants is what will determine what brands survive this era of Social Darwinism. This is how to build the brands of tomorrow.