By Katrina Olson
I recently finished writing an article on 12 marketing trends for tED Magazine’s December edition. But some trends (not covered in that article) are always in style. Regardless of where you stand on technology, social media or content marketing, these “trends” should be firmly entrenched in your business.
- Listening to Customers
Some companies appoint customer advisory councils that meet in person and provide feedback throughout the year. Others conduct focus groups, make phone calls, and do surveys.
Listening can be as simple as making phone calls, participating in LinkedIn groups or talking with customers at company events. Better yet, contact those who aren’t customers and ask them why they’re not doing business with you.
Or, you can conduct an entire initiative to solicit and implement customer feedback like Philips Lighting Canada’s “Brighter for You” campaign of 2014-2015. Distributors were frustrated dealing with the company during a major business transition. That translated to reduced market share. Philips responded by making significant improvements to the customer experience, then communicating those changes in an integrated media campaign while also opening channels for ongoing communication.
- Being Different
Many distributors’ and manufacturers’ ads show close-ups of products, technicians installing products, building shots or warehouse photos. Instead, consider showing people, benefits, solutions or a visual seemingly unrelated to your product, like this ad by Leviton or ad series by Shat-R-Shield.
- Meeting Customers Where They Are
Customer events at your location give you an opportunity to show off your products and capabilities, but how about meeting customers where they already are—physically and digitally?
Build a mobile display or rolling showroom and take it to job sites. Use social media or mobile technology to meet your customers in their digital space. And of course, attend or sponsor events, expos fairs or association meetings your customers are already attending.
Here’s an example: Eaton’s Crouse-Hinds mobile training trailer was designed for electrical contractors, designers and end users who wanted to learn about code-compliant installations for harsh and hazardous applications. It featured a complete electrical system, work bench with product samples for hands-on training, and interactive media so users could access additional product information.
- Engaging on Social Media
Social media is here to stay. Your customers are looking for Information on blogs, Facebook Pinterest and Instagram. Use the interactivity of digital media to connect with customers and potential customers on an emotional level. Give them answers to their problems and solutions with “how to install” product videos or troubleshooting tips—like this series of YouTube videos from Cadet Manufacturing.
- Putting Customers First
From strategy to execution, whether you’re designing a promotion, building a website, or writing a brochure, think about customers first. What information do they want and need to make a decision? How do they want that information organized? What questions do they need answered?
Don’t just tell them about your products but describe how the product will make their jobs or lives easier, and why it’s better than the competitor’s product. Finally, make a few small wording changes that will make a big difference in the tone of your content: use the words you and your more than “I,” “we,” “us” and “our.”
- Being Authentic (Especially with millennials)
Millennials especially crave authenticity. Don’t try to be something you’re not or promise what you can’t deliver. Be honest and straightforward about who you are, and what your product can and can’t do. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than over-promise and under-deliver.
This is a people business. Your competition is selling the same products; it’s your people and their relationships with customers that make the difference. And that’s much better than competing on price.
See tED magazine for more!
Get more marketing trends in my Marketing 101 column in tED magazine’s December issue. (You may also find the November article on public relations as marketing helpful.) In the meantime, if you’d like to see any specific topics addressed in future editions of Marketing Momentum, email tED magazine Publisher Scott Costa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine’s print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine’s Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.comor via her website at katrinaolson.com.
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