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Everybody likes to buy. Nobody likes to be sold to.

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This is one of my favourite quotes related to marketing, because it’s so true.

Retail therapy is a thing.  And for good reason.  People like to shop.  They like to buy products and services that make them feel good and make their lives easier.  But have you ever encountered a pushy salesperson?  Did you feel compelled or repelled?  There is a difference between pampering and pushy.  A pampering salesperson is tuned in to your needs and helps you find what you are looking for… and sometimes you come away with more than you initially intended.  But you feel good.  A pushy salesperson, on the other hand, sucks the joy out of shopping.  They make you feel pressured.  And if you do succumb, you leave with regret, not satisfaction.

The idea of being customer-focused is so over-familiar in marketing circles, and yet the most recurring stumbling block businesses find in their marketing efforts is the ‘me, me, me’ approach.

This is especially true in online marketing.  If a customer is on a shopping website page, browsing offerings, the message is expected to be direct and clear.  If that same person is flicking through their Facebook account, on the other hand, they are in a different mindset.  They are there to be entertained, catch up on news, see what’s going on with their friends and their world.  The message must fit the mindset.

Engage

Go Pro is a fantastic example of a brand who gets it.  It starts with their slogan ‘be a hero’.  It’s not product-focused, touting the benefits or portability of their cameras.  Instead it resonates with the dreams and ambitions of their target market, encouraging them to live their dreams and ‘be a hero’.

As a brand, pinpoint the pulse of your target market.  We’re not talking demographics here – age and income is irrelevant here.  We are talking about their passions.  What is your target market passionate about?  What drives them? What are their goals and dreams?  And how can your brand align with those dreams and encourage them on their path?

Once you’ve zeroed in on this, and decided which platforms your target market spend time on, it’s time to find your voice.  On Facebook, be social.  Entertain, inform, engage.  Beyond just the emotional connection, this will allow you to align with Facebook’s algorithm.  The tide has shifted and there are now more ‘Pages’ (Business pages, brands, media pages) posting than personal posts.  For this reason, Facebook has limited the reach of Pages.  Not to hurt businesses, though it can feel that way as a business trying to gain reach.  But to create a platform that people like to spend time on.  The key metric Facebook looks at is shares.  If you create interesting, engaging content, and Facebook sees people engaging, they will extend your reach because they see people WANT to see it.

The same applies to other platforms.  Instagram is very visual – but in a fun, artsy way.  Professionally branded content doesn’t fly on Instagram. It’s a social platform at heart.  Artsy, beautiful, engaging imagery does.

Twitter is the cocktail party of the social circle.  It’s all about conversation.  Engage with tweets, answer questions, start conversations.

Snapchat is a very fun, behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal platform.  Warby Parker does an exceptional job on Snapchat.  You might find people dancing, passing off to the next dancer, each sporting a new style of sunglasses.  It’s quirky, fun and personal.

Encourage User Interaction

User-Generated Content

Did you know at least 6000 Go-Pro tagged videos are uploaded to YouTube EVERY DAY?  They build their community on User Experience.  They encouraged people to upload videos of their own experiences.  GoPro buys the rights to self-shot videos with unique and inspiring content, polishes them and posts them to their own channels.  Doing so, allows viewers to live vicariously through the lives of other viewers… and to share their own experiences.  And in today’s world, if you’re going to jump out of a plane, you kind of want to show the world.

I recently spoke at a conference alongside Kevin Kuster of #JJCommunity. The JJCommunity is stellar for encouraging user generated content – but that’s a post in itself.  Kevin shared the story of being hired by M&M.  They asked their followers to buy a bag of M&M’s – do whatever they want with it, and send in the images.  M&M’s chose the best and the winner enjoyed free M&M’s for a year.  Not much expense for M&M’s… but thousands of people started posting their photos tagging M&M’s on Instagram.  The submissions were amazing, M&M got thousands of artistic and fun renditions of their candy, and a whole lot of buzz, for the cost of a year’s worth of M&M’s.   Now that’s smart marketing.

Inform

We are living in a learning economy.  The way customers shop has changed.  Not just the way they buy, but the way they shop.  Before making a purchase (even an offline purchase), they look online.  They research.  They compare.   Your online marketing strategy will succeed best if it aligns with the way your customers shop.

Start a blog.  Make a list of all the questions customers have asked related to your product or service and dedicate one full post to answer each question.  Be informative.  Give value.  Don’t sell.

Create videos.  Tutorials.  Personal journeys of customers using your service.  Behind-the-scenes videos.  Show the product or service in use. Don’t be afraid to give information.  Customers like to research, they like to learn. But they don’t always have the time to DO.  If you position yourself as a resource to your customer, you will be top of mind when they look to pay for that product or service.  Lush Hair Extensions is a great example of this.  They create videos showing how to create different hairstyles.  You don’t NEED extensions to create the looks, but they just look SO good in the videos….

Encourage and curate reviews.  Send a follow-up email thanking the customer for their business and include an easy link to TripAdvisor or Google Reviews…whichever best fits your niche.  If you’re in the restaurant industry, post a big sign “On Instagram?  Talk to us”  Offer a free dessert to customers who post a photo of their time at your restaurant.  It can be the food, drinks, their friends around the table…it doesn’t matter, so long as they tag the restaurant.  Once the restaurant gets the tag, desserts on us!  It’s fun and blurs the lines between online and offline…which is really the way we live life today, isn’t it?

The dynamic has shifted.  The way customers shop has changed and thus the way brands find success in marketing has also changed.  At least the best brands have changed.  It’s all about switching mindsets.  Stop thinking as a business, and start thinking as a customer.  What information would you be looking for?: What questions would you have?  What images would you want to see?

Cater to this.  Be a Prince Charming (or fairy godmother!) in an industry filled with Gastons!

gaston


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