For decades, marketers have been taught to use customer-centric selling to move buyers through the sales funnel. Often, this is accomplished through targeted messaging and offers to purchase, and it usually leads to marketing success.
If you’re not happy with your marketing results and you practice customer-centric selling, the problem may not be with your approach. It may be your understanding of the sales funnel.
It’s actually not a funnel anymore. It’s more like a galaxy.
Technology has changed the buyer journey so that it can no longer be considered as linear. Three years ago, Google described this shift as imagining that a customer’s journey with a brand metamorphosized from a car driving down the highway to a sightseeing tour with plenty of stops to explore things along the way.
Like the Milky Way, which has more stars than can be explored, consumers have more points of intersection with brands today than ever before. This abundance of touch points only increased with the pandemic.
Technology trends that were being slowly adopted, like video conferencing, telemedicine and remote work, were suddenly shoved onto center stage, where the whole world began relying on them to connect, be productive, relax and entertain.
Thankfully, customer-centric selling still serves us well in this wild new frontier. By elevating the customer’s needs and wants above our own echo chambers, we can ensure we speak the right message, at the right time, in the right place to the right people.
In 2021, this includes social media (and social audio). If you aren’t thoughtfully crafting a customer-centric social media strategy, you are taking your brand or business out of the conversation and opening yourself up to be outflanked by your competition.
Keep the following four things in mind to keep yourself in the conversation and top of mind with your ideal audiences this year.
Marketers owe it to their brands to evaluate every social media channel. Too often, we write off newer platforms, assuming they aren’t worth our time or investment. But even brands in highly regulated industries like health care and finance owe it to themselves and their customers to take a long, hard look at every burgeoning social media channel. This includes the following.
And there are many other channels capturing the attention of consumers today. Clubhouse, which took off during the pandemic, arranged an exclusive content deal with the NFL to broadcast the 2021 NFL Draft.
When you think about it, the deal had all the hallmarks of a successful, customer-centric venture. People love to prognosticate about the draft. On Clubhouse, instead of listening to commentators share their opinions, fans could discuss their own thoughts in dedicated rooms on Clubhouse that ranged from pre-draft assessment of prospective players to a conversation with alumni of the University of Alabama’s football team to a fan mock draft and more.
Clubhouse’s interactive social audio platform is the perfect forum for fan draft talk. Few brands are discussed as much as the NFL, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for your brand on Clubhouse. Taking yourself through the exercise of evaluating it for your brand will help you move forward with confidence, regardless of whether that future includes a presence on Clubhouse.
Since the success of Clubhouse, every major social media platform is looking for ways to integrate social audio into its platform. As consumers show a desire to connect and converse with audio only, it only makes sense for video and text-forward platforms to find innovative, intuitive ways to integrate audio for their users.
Facebook, the world’s most heavily trafficked social media site, has done this by introducing a new miniplayer that streams Spotify music from the Facebook app. Labelled “Project Boombox,” the integration allows users to listen and share music or podcasts directly to their Facebook feeds. The synergy goes both ways, with the ability to share items to Facebook directly from the Spotify app.
If marketers are given visibility into the data behind what audiences are sharing and when, it could open a new stream of advertising possibilities through targeted podcast and streaming music placements. It’s clear that Facebook sees Clubhouse as a threat it wants to ward off, with other audio enhancements like allowing podcast creators to share long-form audio on Facebook and short-form clips called Soundbites, as well as its own version of Clubhouse on the horizon.
These integrations are good news for marketers, who can use them to better connect with their ideal audiences throughout the myriad of touch points on their customer journey mapping exercises.
Customer-centric selling capitalizes on the fact that humans crave contact. The pandemic has put all that to the test and incubated a pent-up demand for in-person interaction. As vaccination efforts roll out across America and around the world, there will be an increasing number of people who are hungry to eat, dance, play, work and shop in person.
Reimagine a post-pandemic experience for consumers with your brand that prioritizes this desire for in-person contact with a safe yet satisfying way to accommodate it.
If you haven’t conducted a secret shop experiment yet, now might be a great time for one. As you put protocols in place that allow in-person interaction with your brand, make sure to test it with secret shoppers. Doing so affords a clear perspective into the experience you provide customers and helps avoid tunnel talk in an echo chamber (i.e., drowning out customers’ voices with your own).
The pandemic was nothing if not a reminder that we are all interconnected in a global society. What happens on one side of the world reverberates on the other. China’s booming social commerce market provides ample opportunity for U.S.-based marketers.
Luxury brand Hermes livestreamed its Fall/Winter 2021 Womenswear show in cities around the world on Weibo, instead of its own website, and attracted an audience of nearly 6 million visitors. Cartier livestreamed its jewelry exhibit on Alibaba’s Taobao Live and snagged 770,000 viewers in 2 hours.
It was a stunning move for a brand that has only ever done such an exhibit in an exclusive, in-person format.
With a culture that has more fully embraced social commerce than the U.S., China provides an intriguing source of insight for marketers and a well of customer-centric selling ideas to consider for their own campaigns.
Want help ideating or implementing a customer-centric sales strategy at your organization? Talk to me about strategic marketing consulting today!