Here at Novo we talk to our clients about the new normal a lot, and I’ve read a few articles about it recently so it’s a bit of a hot topic in marketing. For me, the new normal is all about the way we, as marketers and purveyors of the brands we represent interact with our audience. The biggest enabler of the new normal is technology; it has transformed the way consumers purchase and access information. And it has transformed the way information is pushed out. But most importantly, it is a shift in thinking that has changed the expectations customers place on the companies they do business with. Customers expect relationships, not transactions.
It’s no longer B2C, it’s B2Me.
In the good old days (think Mad Men), the general approach to marketing was to blast customers with a range of one dimensional messages that said how great, strong, clever, good, big, bright and shiny a product or service was. Effectively instructing the customer on how they should feel about the brand. The problem with this approach is that we failed to identify with our customers. You cannot tell someone how they should feel, but you can influence. Consumers want to be engaged in a way that has meaning and relevance to them personally.
It’s not rocket science. Organisations that reap the most success are those who recognise that their business (and therefore profit) comes from their customers. You’d think this would be a given for all businesses, but it requires (for many) a significant shift in thinking and culture. Many businesses are still employing Mad Men marketing techniques because it’s easier. The temptation to push out one dimensional, one-size-fits-all marketing messages resonates with the very human desire to talk about ourselves all the time. Sadly, it won’t win you any friends at a BBQ, and it won’t work in marketing these days either.
Flip the focus.
The biggest change required is flipping the focus from ‘inward out’, to ‘outward in’. Our friends at Sterling Cooper would huddle around a table thinking up a bevy of messages that they wanted the public to know about their clients’ products, and then pushed these highly salesy messages out to the market. An outward in focused organisation listens to their customers first, collates personal customer data to understand their demographics, motivations, wants and needs and the problems to be solved, then adjusts their messaging to respond to these directly and personally.
By taking the time to listen to your customers, you should start to understand them better, identify sets of customers and the topics that resonate with them. When you understand your audience’s perspective, you can then start to build messaging that combines your audience’s needs and your own business objectives, brand values, internal processes, tone of voice and imagery.
The Black Sands Brewing Company
I recently had the delightful experience of attending an awards evening and was seated next to the owner-operators of the Black Sands Brewing Company, craft beer brewers based in West Auckland. They were up for a marketing award that night and so, of course, I wanted to know all about their marketing efforts. Over a rather spectacular glass of their Pale Ale (which has a mandarin flavour and totally invigorated a new appreciation for craft beer), they told me of their foray into the world of beer sales in West Auckland.
These guys have approached their marketing in a measured, considered way. They have kept their audience highly targeted, which means they not only understand exactly what resonates with this group, they are also able to interact and respond face-to-face in a lot cases, which fosters highly personal, genuine relationships. They are not trying to be all things to all people, and in fact, they don’t want to be.
Everything about this brand speaks to its target audience; the name, packaging, tone of voice and sales channels. They get it. Their MO is first and foremost about their customer. The result is a more intimate customer experience that generates loyalty and a great deal of goodwill. It’s great to see, and is a fantastic example of B2Me. Nice one Ian and Craig!