The New Customer

When the Internet became a household tool a lot of things changed. When landlines and desktops turned into cell phones and tablets, even more things changed. It’s hard to measure exactly how much our lives have changed through technology, but our personal lives aren’t the only thing that changed – so did the customer.

Customers today are very different from what they used to be and that means the way businesses market to and connect with customers must evolve to keep up.

Let’s look at four characteristics of new customers and how you can adapt your strategies to suit them.

Customers know more than you do.
Customers today have access to virtually all the information they need before you know if they are even interested. They’re armed with greater information and influence than ever before. They use technology to make their decisions and influence the buying patterns of others making them feel empowered and knowledgeable. They may know as much or more about your product and your competitor’s product than you do. Be ready for them.

Customers are social.
“If you make your customer happy they will tell someone; if you make them unhappy they will tell 10 people.”

This adage describes the practice of word-of-mouth. Online platforms have transformed word-of-mouth into what is called “user generated content” or UGC. When customers post online about their experiences, questions, praise or condemnation of products, services and general behavior in the marketplace, it’s like word-of-mouth on steroids. Be a positive social information generator.

Customers make their experiences and opinions about businesses and their products/services known to millions. They are blogging and posting about it on Facebook and Twitter. And not only are they telling their own experiences, they are reading everyone else’s. Referrals and recommendation are coming from anyone but you (unless you have testimonials – which we’ll talk about later.) Which leads us to…

Customers tell you what they want.
Customers today tell you how to interact with them, and when and why they will or will not do business with you. This is directly connected to the previous point. They are posting on blogs and social networks telling not only what they think, but they are telling you what they want. Listen carefully.

Customers judge books by their cover.
Customers are influenced by who they believe that you are before they consider your products and services. Customers care about what your brand stands for as much as they care about what you offer. Consumers have the power to shape what you stand for if you don’t do it for them. Share your “why?”

How to adapt:

  1. Anticipate that customers are already well informed and be prepared to answer any questions they have, truthfully.
  2. Make social media a substantial part of your marketing strategy. Be flexible. Consider why customers share, when they share and how you can facilitate the process.
  3. Track and respond to UGC. Make it easy for customers to share their experiences.
    Don’t shy away from it. Testimonials are vital today. Written testimonials are great and give customers information they want. Video testimonials are even greater. 80% of Internet users recall watching a video ad on a website in the past 30 days – of that 80%, 46% took action after viewing the video! (Online Publishers Association)
  4. Keep yourself and your employees up to date on the social landscape. Understand how social media works and why it’s so important to your customers.
  5. Invest time, energy and money into adapting to the continually changing social landscape.
  6. Decide what it is you want to be known for and allow that message to saturate everything you do and say. Share your personal story of “why” you do what you do.

Stay on top of your game, adapt to the customers wants and needs and the avenues by which the obtain information and your business will grow hand in hand with your customers.