As I combed through all the content weâ€™ve planned for MITXâ€™s FutureM conference, I was struck with a sense of opportunity for brands and products willing to invest in creating digital experiences centered on Customer Love, not just like, but serious love. Customer Love is more accessible now than ever before â€“ but there are some very important rules to guide us if we are to be successful.
1. Marketing ≠ Advertising.
Advertising still is important but marketing today is much more about conversations, not shouting out messages â€“ itâ€™s bringing the customer with us. Building customer love is about engagement and relationships. Connect to an emotion, give customers a reason to believe or care about you. Learn about your customers and how they want to interact with you.
2. Participation is the 5th P of marketing.
Today we live in a world where connected consumers want to have a say, want their voice to play a role. Participation is not about letting go of your brand, but instead itâ€™s a willingness to let others in. Give customers the means to play with your brand and make it their own.
3. Always be listening.
Online communities, ratings and reviews, Twitter, call centers, all provide opportunities to learn and innovate. There are more opportunities now than ever before for channels to listen to your customers, you will be amazed at what people will tell you if they think you are listening.
4. Talk is cheap (media).
Empower your customers to talk to their friends about your products, their influence is far greater. Provide ways for them to spread the word, enlist in your cause, share what they learned.
5. â€œMe-Commerceâ€ is better than E-Commerce.
Create digital experiences and interactions on a mass scale make them feel like they are 1:1. Digital technology has enabled this â€“ personalized discovery, product customization and stellar customer care. There are a few great young companies in Boston, like Gemvara,Blank Label and CustomMade that are working on this.
6. Think mobile first.
According to the Pew Internet Project, 88% of adults carry a mobile phone, 50% of which are smartphones; 19% have tablets. Mobile devices account for 30% of email opens. Thinking mobile first means understanding how the consumer is experiencing your brand on the go, when itâ€™s convenient for them. The rise of mobile should encourage you to rethink the role of Location. Even better, reinvent your offering to make location matter â€“ how can it change the game?
7. Content is king.
Be relevant, meaningful and helpful and people will come to you. What are you expert in? What do you know about better than anyone else? Share all the facets of this. Think about how your product fits into peopleâ€™s lives â€“ business, personal whatever - and build a content strategy around it.
8. Every employee is a brand manager.
Marketing, capital M means that your customer service department, your innovation or R&D group, your retail clerks â€“ anyone that has a touch point with the customer all know and understand how to communicate what your product means, what the brand stands for and can bring it to life in their work every day. This isnâ€™t a new idea. But what is new is the way that customers and employees can interact and be very connected because of social media and the internet.
9. Two parts here: Use technology to simplify and measure everything.
Can technology help me do this better? Think about user experience through the entire purchase path and how technology can make it better, help us learn what our customers want and give it to them. Technology can also help track how we are doing. There are so many options and channels, links and levers â€“ you need to be sure you know what is working well and what is not.
10. Donâ€™t be a lemming.
It can be so tempting to try each bright shiny object that comes along thatâ€™s the darling of the moment. Do not do this. Ask yourself how this would fit your customer and if the answer isn't obvious right away, itâ€™s probably a bad fit. For most products, you canâ€™t and shouldnâ€™t be everywhere online.
Bonus Rule: Change is the norm. Be ready for anything.
So thatâ€™s my 10 â€“ whatâ€™s yours? Please leave me comments below. Or come toFutureM in Boston in October to debate with the nationâ€™s best and brightest on the topic â€“ youâ€™ll be glad you did.
Debi Kleiman is the president of MITX, the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, the nonprofit trade association focused on digital marketing and Internet business in New England and the creators of FutureM Boston, Oct. 23-26th.
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