Customers Don’t Care About Us

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Bored?
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Let’s talk about sales. Customers don’t care about our online brand conversations.

The desire for customers to have personal relationships with brands remains the greatest myth pushed by today’s online marketers.

Then there’s the assertion that increased engagement will lead to stronger relationships.

Mmmm, not necessarily. Chatty versus cheap toothpaste, who wins the deal?

Social engagement can lead to customer loyalty or a win in an apples to apples situation (up to 15% of customers, says Gartner). But ultimately, if there’s a significant value difference between competitive offerings, the conversation won’t carry day.

More important than our conversation is the word of mouth generated from the satisfied customer and the true brand loyalist, both on and offline.

Trust comes from peers, not brand owned conversations. In fact, 63% of customers need to hear something about a company three times before they believe its true. So much for that all important brand created conversation.

Social and Sales Relevancy

There are four primary tracks for social media in a marketing organization identified by McKinsey & Company’s Demystifying Social Media Report (pictured above).

The final track, Lead, is where sales occurs. Sales comes down to relevancy.

When someone needs something, a product or a service, suddenly your brand becomes relevant and has an opportunity. Outside of the one or two percent of customers that are blood loyal brand evangelists (generally speaking, some companies have more), brands need a comprehensive integrated marketing experience to win.

It’s not that social media validation isn’t important. It is. But only when the would-be customer starts investigating your wares.

The prospective customer may find you through a wide variety of means, including social, search, content, traditional media, email, word of mouth, etc.

If you have a high dollar or B2B sale, you can expect prospective buyers to examine your online presence over a significant period of time, weeks or even months (this would make for an interesting research study). Low dollar consumer purchases have a much shorter sales cycle.

In conjunction with other decision factors like peer reviews, price points, feature sets, etc., the brand conversation may play a role in that final decision.

After the Sale

Walk Away
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After the purchase, that conversational role may continue.

Customers may want to chat, perhaps with us (the marketing or customer service team), perhaps with other customers to learn more about the product, and maybe share some good will. After all, people like to feel good about how they spent their money.

If we’re really lucky, a new customer might join your community of brand evangelists, developing further word of mouth.

But don’t kid yourself. Most will lose interest. Their need for our particular product and service is fulfilled. They stop caring.

For the customer, it’s on to the next purchase and social conversation.

And for us, well, the marketing job continues with the next prospect. Let’s hope the overall social media effort amplifies interest and increases demand so that many more potential customers consider our products, services or causes.

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  • davidquaid

    The ideas and notions around content and Social Marketing have a lot of interesting and attractive qualities but its moved on little in the past 4 years. Big brands who already have lots and lots of engagement, can draw and encourage that on Social Media. They cannot control it but they can add to it. But its also typically a very small %.

    Content Marketeers who don’t have any other channels outside of SoMe will notice that better content gets shared more frequently. But even if you take the number of times an article is shared on RTE – its probably a lot less than the actual page impressions generated by direct and other sources.

    We have a problem of two halves: Those who desperately want (need) Content and Social Marketing to work and the huge lack of evidence to support it but also to convincingly demonstrate it’s challenges.

    Please don’t anyone take me the wrong way: I’m not saying that SoMe is not useful for marketing or brand awareness or anything else. I’m challenging the life span of how long brands can be told that they have to become content curators and generators in order to build up channels and that these channels can be sold to indirectly.

    I particularly like how small businesses and professionals can be connected or people with problems that they cannot solve can turn to crowd sourcing. But how relevant will a brand be to an audience its curated via content sharing?

    Brand managers must be careful that they cannot control what people think as much as they do They still need a good product and the right message.

    Employing lots and lots of content copywriters and having companies build up news and entertainment channels just so they can get (free?) advertising sounds epic in futility.

    • geofflivingston

      I think the best thing you said here was, “Brand managers must be careful that they cannot control what people
      think as much as they do They still need a good product and the right
      message.”

      I do think content has a larger play than simply a brand-owned social media conversation. For me, I was referring to more like Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Instagram, etc.

      This is why I liked the McKinsey chart because it showed four uses for social. Customer service, brand monitoring, etc.

      Also, creating great content helps in the sales cycle from a validation standpoint, but the thing is that it’s not the lead generator usually. So, a white paper or even educational blog posts can make a big difference. Social can help enhance an experience, and amplify current positive word of mouth.

      Thank you for a thought provoking comment!

  • http://www.drivenforward.com/ Glen Hellman

    Brilliant Geoff! Mind if I repost?

    • geofflivingston

      Of course, go for it!

  • Mel Webster

    Sometimes I think that you and I share parts of the same brain. I cannot remember the last time I disagreed with one of your posts. Pretty scary. Nice job, and once again spot on!

    • geofflivingston

      Then I’ve come a long way. Thank you, Mel, what a compliment.

  • http://twitter.com/jeanniecw Jeannie Walters

    I agree with this totally. Marketers, product engineers, community managers…they have to realize that the customer has a life outside of the product/service. We don’t jump and down just because we hear from brands. We live our lives, and hope they can provide something when we need it. Great stuff, Geoff!

    • geofflivingston

      Love this, “We live our lives.” No one wants to have dinner with a brand! LOL. We just want what we want. Thank you for a great comment.

  • http://richardrbecker.com/ Rich Becker

    There are finite possibilities for any relationship that is associated to a single thread. If you want to make an impact, the relationship has to find ways to fit. Most (if any) corporate brands can’t do that. Only people can do that. And even then, like any relationship, they are subject to keeping those threads connected.

    • geofflivingston

      You know I have had the same lawyer for six years. He works hard to keep the relationship… I hear from him every month on a personal 1 to 1 level whether I am billing or not.

      Proof to your point. Well said.

  • http://twitter.com/T60Productions T60 Productions

    Nice one Geoff… and it applies in video production as well. Don’t tell us, the audience, all about you, the company. Tell us how you’re going to help us.

    –Tony Gnau

  • rowlandjohn

    Great Post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katskrieger Kat Krieger

    This ties into a Brand Fast-Trackers podcast we are posting tomorrow. I’ll include the link back. Really great as always Geoff.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you, Kat!

  • http://twitter.com/JonMikelBailey Jon-Mikel Bailey

    This is the sort of honest and realistic conversation we need to be having about social media. I would invite anyone who disagrees to take a week and log all of their brand experiences. Then go back and look through that list. How much did you think about that brand after the experience that you logged? Let’s get honest with ourselves. The kool-aid is tasty but too much makes your belly hurt.

    Great post as usual Geoff!

  • http://www.captivetouch.com/ Sherry Nouraini

    Great post, loved reading. I always say, if you don’t have a competitive advantage, no amount of conversation in social media channels will help you win customers.

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