Posts Tagged ‘Consumer Behaviour’
A recent meeting on changes in buyer behaviour and marketing styles raised more questions than it answered so here are a few thoughts to help clarify things:
We used to say, find out where your potential buyers hang out and go talk to them, advertise to them, socialise with them, network with them, get in their face wherever they are.
In recent times consumers simply don’t accept that any more. They have become virtually immune to most forms of advertising and there are so many marketing messages vying for attention that it is difficult for any but the truly exceptional to be noticed.
And yet, buyers still buy.
The big difference in buyer behaviour is that they seek out suppliers, not the other way round. This means that, as businesses, we need to be found when our potential clients come looking for us.
So, the big question is: If you were searching for your product or service, where would you go to find it?
It might be Google, it might be a business directory, it might be a group of friends or a peer group.
We all know the power of Google and the importance of having a web site that shows up in Google searches but increasingly, people are turning to their social networks to ask for word-of-mouth recommendations – and the giant of the social networks is Facebook with over 500 million users.
In the background of this organic change in consumer behaviour is the change that is being driven by the big battle between Google and Microsoft.
In a nutshell, Microsoft wants a piece of Google’s market share of the search advertising revenue stream. It launched its own search engine (Bing) and bought out Yahoo search and then did a deal with Facebook that gives Bing huge amounts of information to draw on in searches.
Every time anyone clicks a Facebook ‘like’ button (now used on more than 2 million sites) the information creates Facebook’s Instant Personalisation which gives each Facebook user a unique experience.
This in turn feeds Bing which means that it can provide what is called a ‘social search’ that shows the searcher what their Facebook friends have liked in relation to that search. In effect, Facebook, in conjunction with Bing, is now challenging Google as the main driver of traffic to websites.
Just today (17th Feb 2011) Google has announced a subscription service allowing publishers to charge for content from which Google will earn a fee.)
Do you have a Facebook ‘like’ button anywhere on the web?
Is your website optimised for searches, including video content?
How else can a business be ‘found’
Google ad words and Facebook ads are both cheap and easy to use but Facebook has the edge on targeting ads.The only real answer is to experiment and see what works for your business.
YouTube and Twitter are also huge influencers on how people find and visit websites, drawn in because they were actively searching for something or were sent there by a friend.
LinkedIn is another major player in on-line business to business networking. Since the recent introduction of ‘open’ groups, discussions are searchable and it is easier than ever for the 80 million members to be found because of their area of expertise.
And then there are smartphones. Anyone with a smartphone can search the web on the go and find suppliers for their needs. If your website displays well on mobile phones and your competitors doesn’t that’s great. If it’s the other way round you’ve lost the game.
If your product label or special offer flyer has a QRCode (a Quick Response bar code) a smartphone will read it and bring people to you.
So, you make sure your website is optimised for search engines like Google and Bing (SEO) and that it displays well on smartphones. You swap your email newsletter for a blog, set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile, start your own YouTube channel, make some videos, optimise those too and then resume blasting out your sales messages, right?
If your buyer behaviour has changed then your marketing style must also change.
The reason buyers changed their behaviour is that THEY DO NOT WANT SALES MESSAGES. If they find you on Facebook and Twitter and you are just broadcasting the same old stuff in the same old way they’ll ignore it in the same way they do direct mail or unsolicited email.
So here’s the second big question: If a buyer can find your competitors just as easily as you, why should they buy from you?
Go on, answer that question. If you don’t know why, how will a buyer know?
How well do you know your customers? Do you know what they are trying to accomplish in THEIR business or THEIR lives? Does what you do provide them with what they need to do this? Where do you fit in with what THEY want?
It used to take masses of market research to discover this but with the technology we all have at our fingertips it is much easier to find out what your potential customers are thinking, what they need, what they like and what it takes for them to trust you. It involves having conversations – real, two way communication, not one-way sales broadcasts.
When they find you, you need to engage them and encourage them to engage with you. If this sounds time consuming and laborious think about it this way. A conversation with one person on Twitter or Facebook or via a comment on a blog or a forum will be ‘overheard’ by hundreds of other people. All of these media are platforms for you to engage with more people, more closely targeted, more quickly than ever before and for them to pass those messages on to others in their network at the click of a mouse.
Its not easy but its not that hard either. The technology is made for non-techy people to use so don’t get hung up on that. A few simple pointers and some common sense will help you to avoid wasting time.
The main thing we all need to do is change from thinking of mass, largely untargeted and one-way sales messages to discovering individual needs by engagement and two way conversations.
Considering how few people like to ‘sell’ and how many love to help people to discover what they need, it’s really not that hard once you get your head around it.
So, how DO you market your business in an age of mass empowerment?
- Be found
- When you’re found, be engaging
- When you engage, listen
- When you listen, offer help
- When you help, develop trust
- When you’re trusted you’ll be bought.
Should you pay for this or DIY?
You CAN do all of this yourself but you need work out how much it costs you. If you are running a business your time is not ‘free’ it is valuable. Spending earning time on these activities needs to be balanced with everything else you could be doing to grow your business.
Marketing agencies, web designers, SEO experts, social media experts (treat these with great caution – what did they do before they were SoMe experts?), copywriters and graphic designers all need to know how these new tools and strategies fit together. Most of them are learning as they go along because everything is so new and changes happen fast and often without warning. If they admit that and work WITH you, they’re worth talking to.
The key is to see if they are using these techniques in their own businesses and how successful they are at making it work. There is no one person that can do all this for you. If you are a small business, don’t try to imitate a large company – it just won’t work.
There is no one-size fits all so explore what is the best solution for your business and don’t be shoehorned into a pre-determined process.
This is a huge subject and I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions so please share them below. ……….
- What did I learn from my clients this week?
- Change. Its not easy.
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- You can’t grow a business by yourself
- Social networking v social media marketing
- Why blogs are great for small businesses
- The Dragons Den’s Newest Stars
- How well connected are you?
- Can you use “Made in Britain”?
- How are you using your content?
- Who is spending your time?
- There is no ‘Law of Attraction’
- The only time management tip you’ll ever need
- Why LinkedIn is the Most Important Site for your Business
- Thoughts become things – choosing the good ones
- Is Mary Portas bottom line in the red?
- The holes in Mary Portas’ knickers
- Networking – time to move on.
- Cupping, or how to break into a conversation
- What ‘s the most innovative way to use a great testimonial?
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