Want to know what the biggest marketing trend is – the one that will fundamentally change our entire marketing strategy? In 2014 and beyond, the focus will not be on content marketing. It will not depend on who gets more likes on any given social media platform (which is meaningless anyway). It will not revolve around making a big splash at SXSW or CES.
Instead, marketing will all come down to doing one thing well: building relationships. In fact, we are already there.
Before we jump into how your brand can do this, let’s first look at relationships. All relationships are built on trust. As consumers, we trust the brands we buy from:
- We trust that their products or services are going to deliver.
- We trust that our experience with the brand will be seamless and professional and easy.
- We trust that they are experts at what they do – and that they do it better than anyone else.
- We trust that they will not let us down.
- Increasingly, we trust that they will delight us.
That trust is the foundation of our relationship with any brand. The stronger that relationship, the more we will talk about our experience with the brand. Eventually, we become brand advocates.
So how can you build that kind of trust with your audience and turn them into brand advocates? Here are 5 commonsense tips to incorporate into your overall business strategy and help you take advantage of the biggest marketing trend of 2014:
1. Share your knowledge freely
Help your audience by giving away your knowledge and expertise. Write blog posts with detailed how-to instructions. Share easy hacks that maximize the use of product or service. Give away ebooks and guides.
2. Prioritize customer service
As Peter Shankman says, you just have to provide customer service that is one level above crap, and you’ll be doing better than almost everyone else. Treat your customers as you would your mom or grandmother. Do everything you can do fix the problem, and do it as quickly as you can while keeping your customer in the loop.
3. Keep your promises
If you say you’re going to do something, do it – and do it when you say you will, not a day or week or month later. It’s as simple as that.
4. Be transparent
I know of one startup that publishes their revenue, profit, and business results on their website. You don’t have to go that far, but you should be transparent in everything you do.
If you mess up, fix it, explain how you fix it publicly, and ask for forgiveness.
If a product or service is struggling and you’re thinking of axing it, blog about it and ask for input from your audience.
If you are developing a new product or service, blog about it to get feedback and find beta users who can help you improve it.
5. Be human
All the above really come down to one thing: Being human – being you. We like to do business with people we like. Let people get to know you so they can start liking you – and start building a relationship with you and your brand.
What do you think – am I spot on with this trend? How do you build relationships with your audience?
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Image courtesy of davidbork.com