Sixty years ago, Peter Drucker said, “Marketing is the unique, distinguishing function of the business.”
We’re moving into a new era of marketing, one that is distinguishing the successful and memorable businesses from the rest. An era where customer service is part of marketing, a time where we want to live life to the fullest and share our knowledge. We’re living in an era of experiences.
According to experts, we recently moved out of the “Relationship Era”, having started with one to one marketing in the mid-90s and moving into engagement and becoming “friends” with potential customers, online. But let’s face it. It’s been complicated.
So, how does a company go from merely creating content to creating value and stellar customer experiences?
Instead of asking “Should I lower my prices?” or “Should we offer another product?” ask “how high can I set the bar to deliver an experience that connects with my customers?”
Marketing can – nay, must – lead this new era to create powerful customer experiences.
As a long-time beer blogger and marketer, I found myself nodding enthusiastically. Offering interesting content and showing off the latest beers and trends at beer festivals (aka “experiences”) and dinner pairings (more experiences) & in brewer interviews (valuable & relevant content) has been my blog’s main driver for almost a decade.
Today’s consumer is information driven, insightful and eager to find the best service and product experience. They want to buy from businesses that acknowledge their pain points, their needs, desires and hell, just make finding a product or service easy and dare I say, enjoyable.
Here are a couple great examples:
- Kraft: Want more of your message consumed? Offer useful and relevant content to your consumers. Kraft has been delivering delicious recipes online to beef up their content marketing since the early 90s. Okay, I’m done with the puns. About 1/3 of KraftRecipes.com are created by their culinary team and the rest is curated from their member community. The ROI on the content marketing work is among the highest of all of their marketing efforts. They’ve been so successful (100m annual visitors to its web properties) not just by giving away recipes, but by understanding customers based on their interactions with the content. Kraft has proven that its content marketing yields 4x better ROI than its traditional advertising.
- Saks Fifth Avenue: The nearly century old department store has successfully tapped the potential of mobile. Knowing that in-store customers use their devices to shop, the luxury retailer aimed to optimize their marketing, sales and branding. They brought in guest editors to their catalogs, giving a more magazine-like feel, presenting Saks as a fashion authority and making it more of an experience.
Content, after all, is still king.
Starting in 2013, Sakes also started offering a mobile-optimized website and an iPad app. This allows shoppers to enjoy a seamless experience that combines the efficiency of online interactivity with the immediacy of in-store shopping. And get this, Saks Fifth Avenue even embraced the selfie. Last year, they launched a user-generated section of its site, called #SaksStyle, that aggregates shoppers’ selfies shared on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.
And the images are shoppable. Giving consumers a standard hashtag to use and featuring their images on the site rewards them.
Now, that’s an awesome experience.
Spark interest by making your brand larger than the sum of your products. And coming on the heels of the next big Google algorithm update (Search “Google Mobile algorithm update”) on April 21st, be mobile! Google searches about location are growing rapidly, and so are consumer expectations.
Use Content Creation Management (CCM) to create experiences that delight, inspire and engage your audiences.
In today’s constantly connected world, people crave sensory experiences. Just look at IfOnly.com, the “world’s first emporium for experiences.” They offer exclusive options with semi-finalists of this year’s James Beard Awards and even a private dinner inside the Venetian Gothic Palace for some tantalizing and memorable experiences.
What do you as a brand have to offer that matters to consumers? What are you going to provide to make them want to come back to you again and again?
If we provide value and a great experience to our clients and consumers, marketing still, indeed, can be the unique, distinguishing function of the business.