There’s no denying that it’s a busy time to be growing a brand and it can be especially overwhelming when we consider the bigger picture; it’s highly likely our consumers are using multiple devices at any given time, meaning brands are fighting for airtime across browsers, platforms and apps.
Traditionally, we looked at the ‘4 Ps of Marketing’ to make decisions. We expanded our portfolios and developed new product lines. Now it is becoming increasingly obvious that this is no longer sufficient to keep our customers satisfied.
On the surface, technology has opened the doors to a myriad of options for just about anything you’ll ever want or need – food, clothes, electrical goods – making it easier to find the option that’s both right for you and is convenient enough for your lifestyle. Despite our customers becomingly increasingly savvy, the landscape is also becoming harder to navigate, so it’s only natural that by the time they reach a decision, their expectations are very high.
Here are some of my key considerations of how to use technology to help grow your brand and add value to your consumers.
1. Don’t implement new technology for the sake of it
The marketer’s focus should always be on the customer, and never on using technology for the sake of it, or because it’s trending. One of the greatest things about tech is that we now have such an amazing tool for social listening, giving us a deepened understanding, not just of who our customers are, but how their lifestyles impact their behaviour and habits. We can accurately track the multi-channel journey and be highly targeted whilst consistently delivering the new products they really want.
When we first launched New Covent Garden Soup Co., we held a number of focus groups with a really wide range of people. Creating a whole new category is no easy feat and while asking for feedback from a wide range of potential customers was time consuming, it was really worth it. It was important to know who might be enticed to buy, what was at the time, a crazy new product, and why. Technological advances have sped up this process exponentially, and now you can dedicate the time saved to new product development and diversification.
In FMCG more recently, we’ve seen the same with Weetabix, who have rolled out an entirely new range thanks to accurate social listening and deepened understanding of when, where, and by whom their products are consumed. This refreshed understanding was the key driver in the revised ‘on-the-go’ marketing strategy, helping them stay really relevant.
2. Remember that people still want to buy from people
It’s always really important to remember that people buy from people, regardless of how tech-enabled our lives (and shopping!) has become. Wherever and whenever possible, talk to your customers, ask for feedback, embrace their ideas, and implement change based on what they have to say.
Remember that making a purchase is rarely a decision made purely on rationale. Use social media to ask questions and tell intriguing stories – the more your customers get involved, the more interesting a dialogue you’re likely to create. As a result, you’ll have so much more to take away and implement and you’ll likely generate strong loyalty.
It’s always a much more exciting branding exercise when your customers are in the driver’s seat and you’re not trying to wrestle it away from them.
3. Find something that adds real value to your customers
Understanding the relationship between new technology and your brand identity is paramount; it either needs to add significant value or streamline what you and your customers are already doing.
At New Covent Garden Soup Co., we originally anticipated consumers would purchase the product as a first course for an evening meal at home, but not long after the launch we realised its prime use was in the standalone lunchtime market. A quick overhaul meant we were able to market our new product with increased accuracy to target a new hoard of consumers who may have otherwise overlooked us. So it’s fair to say that we all make mistakes and sometimes that’s inevitable. But don’t be afraid! Fail fast so you can recover quickly, and show your customers you take constructive feedback seriously.
When making any change, ask yourself, ‘what value will this add to the purchasing journey?’ or ‘how much easier will this make things for the customer?’ If you can’t come up with a clear answer, you might reconsider.
It has never been more important we stay tuned into our customers, but continue to bear in mind that it isn’t enough to simply know who they are. We need to know when, how, and where they want to be contacted, promoted, and sold to otherwise we run the risk of getting lost in between the endless scrolling and mass Googling.
Further reading on consumer habits
John Stapleton is a business thought leader, CEO and board director.