There were no festivals or celebrations to mark its beginning. No one changed their calendar or started writing the date differently after it began. In fact, if you are not someone who has been around the marketing world for a long time, you may not even realize that the new age is upon us. The most astute marketing strategists, however, understand that even if you don’t realize it, a new era in business has recently begun: The Age of The Customer.
The Significance Of The Age Of The Customer
What does this new age mean, and why does it have such a big impact on brand marketing? To understand these questions, let’s first take a look at what the Age of the Customer actually represents. Jim Blasingame, a small business consultant, very accurately sums up the Age of the Customer in a recent Forbes article. Blasingame explains the new era by breaking down the three key elements of any market: products, product information, and buying decisions. Traditionally, vendors have controlled all of these elements except the final buying decision, which was left to the customer.
In the Age of the Customer, however, this model has been flipped around. Now that the Internet and the rise of mobile devices has given average consumers the ability to find data instantly about almost any subject, customers control two out of the three market elements: product information as well as buying decisions. This change represents a serious shift in the balance of power from sellers to customers. In order to adapt to such a dramatic change, buyers must also shift the way that they think about brand marketing.
Brand Marketing In The New Age Of Business
How exactly can a company hope to succeed at marketing their brand when the customer has so much control over buying interactions? The Forrester research company says that only companies that become “customer-obsessed” will have any chance at succeeding in this new age of business. From a marketing standpoint, this means that businesses need to show how their brand serves customers. There are several keys to this modern approach to brand marketing:
Focus your brand around what your customers want:
Remember that this is not always a tangible quality that can be found in your products. Consider the case of Apple, one of the biggest private companies in the world and arguably one of the most successful consumer electronics companies to ever exist. Apple was not the first company to develop a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, yet their offerings in these fields continue to be some of the highest-selling products in the world, because their brand focuses on something that customers today value: sleek, attractive products that are user-friendly. Apple’s brand sells this message everywhere, from its simple yet elegant company logo to its all-white, brightly lit retail stores.
Interact with customers:
Another big hallmark of brand marketing in the Age of the Customer is interaction. The best brands are the ones that interact with their customers and prospects: with the prominence of social media, this is easy to do. A good example of brand marketing through interaction can be found from clothing company Urban Hilton Weiner. The South African fashion retailer offered customers a $10 discount for taking a selfie wearing an outfit and posting a picture using the hashtag “#urbanselfie.” Not only does this brand marketing move help make a company’s name more prominent, it also allows them to show the world how passionate they are about hearing from their customers
Don’t be what you aren’t:
The days of deceiving customers through phony or misleading advertisement tactics, as the tobacco industry tried to do in the early part of the 20th century, are over. The Age of the Customer means customers have the ability to find out whether or not your brand is truthful about its claims and stance in seconds: twisting the truth or lying outright will only hurt your reputation. Instead, pick a single overarching brand message and stick to it honestly with actions as well as words
With these brand marketing tips for the new age of business, your company can build a brand that will increase the amount of positive attention you receive from customers and prospects by showing them that your organization is very in sync with their needs and can provide something that will meet those needs.