by Tony Vidler
Finding the right opportunities to build trust and connection with consumers who don’t know you yet, but who are thinking of engaging with someone like you, is the perennial marketing challenge.
But where are those opportunities to do it well, and differently, for todays professional?
It is helpful to be quite clear about what the objectives of effective marketing are to begin with. Basically they remain the same as they’ve always been, and that is:
We know that consumers overwhelmingly trust the recommendations and actions of their friends and family, and as a second choice they trust in the shared experience of other consumers like themselves. Online reviews are immensely powerful in making (or breaking!) trust in a brand. Because these methods are so highly regarded by consumers themselves we must constantly work on these methods as “essentials” in our marketing plan.
But new technologies and new mediums and evolving consumer buying behaviours mean that we should be constantly considering how else we can achieve the marketing objectives while working on the word-of-mouth tactics. Essentially we need to be constantly thinking about what is the next opportunity to stand out and begin the engagement process with possible future clients.
Market research such as that consistently provided by firms such as Nielsen provide great insight into where such opportunities might exist. While they confirm the importance of “owned” marketing channels – or areas where we control the medium and drive content – they also highlight emerging opportunities.
I have deliberately chosen their published research from about 3 years ago to highlight how this can help.
Recent research has shown the most important trust building mediums (recommendations, etc) have actually increased in importance in the last couple of years. In late 2011 though – when this research was released – the eye-catcher was the rapidly improving position of advertising on social media channels. Also of interest was text advertising, which raised the line of thinking around the entire use of SMS as a marketing medium.
In the last couple of years a few professionals that I have worked with have spotted these opportunities (for which I am not claiming credit I hasten to add) and their results have been quite extraordinary.
One has evolved to the point where SMS has become the lynchpin of prospecting and prospect engagement for the practice in just a couple of years….and turnover for that practice has more than doubled since doing so. The prospect “bank” is full, and constantly overflowing. Turnaround and response times on prospect engagement have sped up to crazy speeds – conversations and information sharing with prospects that used to take 3 months now happen over the course of 3 days.
The speed and responsiveness that is expected, and then delivered, with SMS marketing absolutely fits for todays busy consumers who demand convenience and answers “right now”.
On a different tack, but just as effectively, has been social media advertising. The relatively low cost of the constant presence via social media is attractive of course. But the ability to be constantly present, but without being a nuisance, tends to build brand familiarity. Familiarity is an essential step towards building trust. It is also a key factor in creating top of mind awareness if done well. The real pay-off in maintaining that constant presence and building a familiar and (relatively) trusted position is that when trigger events happen in the consumers lives then you have a high probability of being their chosen solution or advice provider.
Again the prospect bank that can be created is immense and reasonably rapid, but it is a far more “passive” and patient strategy in terms of individual consumer engagement.
Our objective when trying to market ourselves and our brands is to find mediums that reach our target market, and which also engage in a way that our target market desires. The way to figure out where consumers preferences are heading is to keep an eye on the changing trends in trusted advertising mediums together with consumers participation rates in emerging media or technology.
Do that and it will be easy to work where there are opportunities to stand out with your marketing.