Ahead of the curve, Strategies for Success: How to connect with tomorrow’s customer

Ahead of the curve, Strategies for Success: How to connect with tomorrow’s customer
4 minute read

Consumer
habits and expectations have changed, and most marketers are well-aware that
the old-fashioned advertising techniques have become far less effective these
days. Thanks to social media, smartphones, and growing connectivity and
globalization, customers are becoming far more knowledgeable and savvy—which
means that content marketing campaigns must also become more sophisticated to
match.

In fact,
according to a study published by Compete.com, 94% of shoppers hit the Internet
before making a purchase. Consumers are more educated than they used to be—and
that’s not a bad thing. Shoppers are doing instant price comparisons. Buyers
are also reading reviews—lots of them. And, of course, they’re additionally checking
out video demonstrations of products and discussing experiences and opinions
with those they interact with online.

If you’re
not marketing your business online via the process of content creation or
curation, you’re missing out—and your competition loves you for it. Our online
visibility now defines our ability to stand out and compete on tomorrow’s most
crucial business battleground.

How buying
decisions are made

Researchers
have come up with a theory called ZMOT or “Zero Moment of Truth.” It’s a new
way to approach decision-making when it comes to marketing. In a nutshell,
customers no longer buy solely from brick-and-mortar stores; they also make key
purchase decisions, and choices to move forward with specific partners, as part
of the online research and review cycle.

ZMOT offers
a framework for what marketers keep in mind to keep up with ever-changing
times—and do so online specifically, where much of this decision-making process
and surrounding due diligence takes place. It also reminds organizations that
they need to continuously approach marketing campaigns and outreach strategies
with fresh eyes and new perspectives. Some companies are even using ZMOT as a
basis for developing new business models.

What is most
important here aren’t audience numbers or creative designs—rather, ZMOT is all
about consumers. “There is a new group of consumers who are far more connected
than everyone else, and they’re unlike the traditional consumers we’ve come to
know over the past,” writes What’s the
Future of Business
author Brian Solis. “Your first guess might be that I’m
talking about the Millennial. After all, I think they’re born with a smartphone
and a Facebook account. But what I’m referring to is something altogether
bigger than any demographic.”

Solis says
that we’re witnessing the dawn of “Generation C,” a connected society that can
be grouped based on shared interests and behavior—not age, but rather personal
choices and lifestyles.

How you
should market content, not why

If the last
half-decade saw a wellspring of growth in the content marketing business, it’s
not surprising that experts say that last year was the year that brands should
no longer have been asking why they
should be participating in content or inbound marketing efforts, but rather how? However, if you are still asking
yourself why it’s important to engage in content/inbound marketing initiatives,
the team at DM Confidential puts forth some compelling reasons as to why these
practices are imperative:

You become easy to find. SEO (search engine optimization) isn’t just a buzzword. It’s an
effective tool for online publishing—and one that creates vastly enhanced
Internet visibility. You want customers to be able to find you and your
products or services, right? By using search terms correctly and strategically
in content marketing materials, you can rocket your way up online search engine
rankings, and become far easier to locate in cyberspace. More people now more
than ever are searching, preplanning, and making purchases straight from their
mobile devices and Web browsers. If you’re invisible to them, it’s hard to
close a sale.

You gain credibility. Sandra Zoratti, VP of marketing, executive briefings and education
at Ricoh Production Print Solutions, says that providing value via relevant
content is a great way to gain credibility, establish trust and build
credibility in a helpful, authentic way. Jennifer Wong, marketing manager at
Optify, agrees, explaining that the core purpose of content marketing is to add
value so buyers can make a more intelligent buying decision.

You have more control. You know what you want to say and you know how to say it: In other
words, you’re the one who best knows how to define your branding. Through
content marketing, you can tell that story—and do so the way you’d like it to
be told. When content comes straight from the horse’s mouth, it’s hard to get
confused about the message that you are sending to customers unless, that is,
your communications strategy could use an upgrade.

You can generate your own leads. Content marketing can be a huge time and money saver. Brendan
Cournoyer, content marketing manager at Brainshark Inc., says that content
marketing reduces the need to obtain lists of leads from external sources just
to keep your sales funnel filled with prospects. If you create your own
content, you can draw an audience to you more readily, and willing one at that,
allowing you to generate your own leads and build lasting relationships—a
win-win situation for all involved.

You can be an innovator. Want your product or service to be distinguishable from everyone
else’s? Do something singular or different—and thereby differentiate. Many
others are competing for a share of audience attention, and still more
attempting to do so by leveraging content marketing—plot and strategize how to
make your voice stand out above the din, and what would make audiences want to
listen to whatever it’s saying. Like any successful marketing campaign, victory
in the online space begins with careful research and planning. Nor should
content marketing be the sole focus of outreach efforts: As Cournoyer also
points out, content publishing shouldn’t replace your more traditional
marketing practices: It should supplement and enhance them.

Award-winning professional
speaker
Scott Steinberg is a bestselling expert on leadership and
innovation, and the author of
Make Change Work
for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed
Despite Uncertainty. Among today’s leading providers of keynote speeches, workshops and seminars for Fortune 500 firms, his website is www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.