By Loren McDonald
The marketing world is experiencing a revolution like never in its history, with new channels emerging before marketers can grasp and implement successful programs in the previous hot new channel.
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by all the changes or nervously scanning the horizon to see what lies just beyond it? The following list of eight assertions is intended to help you put some of these larger marketing trends into context.
1. Customer service is the new marketing
In a world gone social and with hyper-transparency, the No. 1 priority today for companies is creating and delivering great products and services.
Responding quickly and honestly to issues, or better yet, enabling your other customers and community to respond for you, has become paramount to your ability to acquire new customers.
Customers who get slow or poor responses from customer support or whose experiences don’t fulfill marketing’s promises will air their complaints quickly on Twitter, Yelp, Facebook pages, or community and review sites.
In this paradigm, your customer service and marketing departments must learn to work seamlessly to avoid inadvertent disconnects or bad customer experiences. Historically, these departments had very different missions; today, they must be aligned to create great experiences for customers.
2. Customers become your marketing department
Social media has changed marketing’s job description. Your ability to grow your business and acquire new customers begins with your ability not just to satisfy your current customers but also to “wow” them.
Marketing is more about actions that ensure a great customer experience and encourage your most highly engaged customers—your fans and fanatics—to share their loyalty with non-customers.
While marketing will continue to create and deliver push and pull marketing programs, its most critical role will be identifying your fanatics and influencers and enabling and encouraging them to, in essence, do your marketing for you.
3. Social media as Swiss Army Knife
You might have heard these common refrains about social media: “Where is the ROI?” “Twitter isn’t a marketing channel,” or “Social media is about a conversation, not advertising.” The fact is, you can’t pigeonhole social media
Like e-mail, it’s becoming a “Swiss Army Knife” not just of marketing but also customer service, product innovation, and more. Yet, so many people are trying to bring their existing marketing paradigms and budget, resource, and staffing approaches to social media as if the channel only did one thing.
Social media—again, like email—can be sorted into buckets for communications, customer service, community, engagement, entertainment, advertising, marketing, public relations, and e-commerce. Some buckets will be huge and others tiny, depending on a company’s culture, brand, industry, marketing approach and, most importantly, how customers prefer to engage with your brand.
Social media is not a one-size-fits-all tool. Don’t treat it like one.
4. The iPad changes everything
Not just the iPad, of course, but also the coming explosion in tablet-size portable devices (40-plus tablets or e-readers are reportedly in development), all bigger than a smart phone but smaller than a desktop or laptop computer.
The iPad’s mobility, combined with the touch-screen interface and screen size, will create an explosion in publishing, gaming, entertainment, marketing, customer service and other applications. None of these provides a compelling experience on a one-inch smart phone screen.
The iPad/tablet platform will provide tremendous opportunities for companies to create amazing brand experiences that are richer, more engaging and more valuable to consumers than the current PC/laptop or smart phone experience.
(Note: I wrote this mostly on my iPad using both virtual and Bluetooth keyboards.)