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Why are people not 'interested' in companies any more?

Date posted: 18 February 2015   |   Posted in: Blog

Twenty years ago the average amount of time somebody held shares in a company was four years. Today it is just 22 seconds*. When you consider that the definition of a share is “a unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset”, you can safely argue that people aren’t interested in companies for very long these days.

But good companies should be about more than just making money. Business thinking has become so short-sighted that marketers are increasingly under pressure to generate quick sales from their campaigns, increasingly sacrificing time they should be spending building communities of loyal fans or increasing customer experience, to delivering a quick return from a tactical sales campaign.

As a result, very few consumers feel like they have a relationship with a brand anymore. Forrester discovered that of the 58,000 consumers they surveyed, “only 10 per cent of consumers trust advertising, but 70 per cent of customers trust brand recommendations from their friends”. 

This means people just aren’t interested in companies and brands in the way that they used to be; and getting their customers’ attention (and keeping it) feels like it is harder than it has ever been.

For marketers, part of the problem is that all profits look the same on a spreadsheet, whereas in actual fact they are not. Profits generated from discounts, flash sales and click-to-buy campaigns are completely different to profits generated by loyal customers and repeat sales. One increases brand value. One reduces it. The issue is that accountants can’t tell the difference between the two, but marketers do, which tells me that we are responsible for arguably the most important business function of all.

Author Milan Kundera once said: “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”

There are obviously a few flaws to that statement (it’s good to sell stuff occasionally), but, as marketers, I often think that we don’t realise the power of our position, or the importance of the consumer insights that we are responsible for. This is why one of my favourite calls-to-action comes from analyst Eric Swayne: “Insights are things we don’t know, should know, but have the ability to change.”

My advice therefore to any marketer looking to make a serious impact on their organisation is to follow three simple rules;

  1. Be Accurate
  2. Be Helpful
  3. Be Everywhere 

Be Accurate
Don’t be seduced (or overwhelmed) by the concept of big data. Big data is really just lots of small spoonfuls of data, as Robert Scoble once said. Filtering vast oceans of data to surface only what is relevant to your organisation should be the main priority of any good marketer. (Once you have accurate data – you can start to see the difference between quick sales from one-off customers, and repeat sales from loyal customers).

Be Helpful
The boundaries between sales, service and marketing are more blurred than ever. Given that many customer service issues are often first heard on channels that marketers are responsible for, marketers need to make sure that they have as much information about every single customer quickly accessible. (The most successful brands in the world allow sales, service and marketing to have access to their customers’ conversation history, so that they can be truly helpful.)

Be Everywhere
Being everywhere doesn’t mean you have to have a content strategy for every single social network in the world (if you did, you’d never get any real work done). Being everywhere means listening everywhere. Customers decide what channels they want to speak to you on, so be ready to respond quickly on the first channel that they contact you on.

Just to be sure that we are on the same page and nobody accuses me of being a ‘fluffy’ marketer quoting three rules that would look good on a PowerPoint slide, consider the commercial impact of being accurate, helpful and everywhere from this** Forrester study:

  • 75 per cent of consumers move to another channel when online customer service fails… unnecessary service costs due to channel escalation are $22m, on average .

If that isn’t an incentive for executives to make sure that marketers have one of the nicest chairs in the boardroom, I don’t know what is… 

Jeremy Waite is head of digital strategy EMEA at Salesforce. He tweets @jeremywaite

*According to the Master of the Universe documentary
*
*Forrester, Embrace Continuous Improvement To Power Customer Service Operations, 11.6.13


Source: Drum

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