This just in – your customers matter. Sounds like a no-brainer. Sounds like a topic not really worthy of discussion. Everyone knows it. What more needs to be said? As simple as this concept sounds, it seems that some businesses aren’t heeding the advice. Consumers are angry over increased fees, changes in services, changes in the business model, changes with products… you name it. When consumers feel slighted, they immediately take to the Internet to voice their opinions. Unless businesses address these concerns, they can quickly become mired in a very sticky PR situation.
All one needs to do to see the effect of this consumer backlash is to look at Netflix, who quickly ditched their plans to spin off their DVD service into a separate company called Qwikster. Or consider the uproar that Bank of America caused when they decided to start charging customers a monthly fee for using their debit cards. According to this article from USA Today, they too have backed down in the face of public opinion and have decided not to charge a debit card fee. Conversely, consider how Domino’s Pizza responded to customer feedback in late 2009.
What does all this mean for marketers, advertisers, and PR professionals who work to build up brands?
Decisions must be weighed carefully. Don’t rush into any decisions regarding marketing/advertising strategies unless you have done your homework and thoroughly understand your ideal consumer; his/her opinions, buying habits, likes/dislikes, etc.
Don’t underestimate your consumer. With social media at their disposal, customers have a very loud voice and can stir up support for their cause quickly at the grassroots level.
Difficulty awaits those who find themselves trying to rebuild trust among their consumer base. There are two items to note from the USA Today article referenced earlier. One is a quote from famed PR guru Howard Rubenstein, who said, “Every company is now sitting on electronic quicksand. It may look like solid ground, but one wrong move and you’re up to your chin.” The second is a statistic released from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. The study states that “some $58 billion in transactions may be at risk from Americans who had a problem with a product or service purchased in the last year.”
Businesses can’t afford to aim wildly with their marketing, advertising, or PR decisions and just throw something at the wall to see what sticks. A company’s reputation (and its bottom line) is at stake. Well-crafted, well-executed, and well-targeted messages will always work best. Be communicative. Be consistent with who you are as a company. And remember who matters the most.
Brands are really starting to embrace interactive video content, which gives viewers options of what they would like to see while the video plays. It’s an excellent way to boost consumer engagement, while increasing the amount of time a potential customer spends with one particular brand. Video producers and marketers are not only interested in video views, but also on completed video views. Recently, Coca-Cola Germany released this interactive video for Sprite Zero. It features a skateboarder launching himself off of a ramp and doing tricks while in mid-air. However, viewers have control over which tricks they want to see. By using keyboard keys 4 through 9, viewers can skip certain tricks, replay others, and create a customized sequence. It’s interesting to note that the producers chose to minimize branding, because, “[We] wanted the focus to be on the content and interactivity.” So, how can you incorporate this kind of video content into your marketing efforts to draw your potential customers into learning more about your products and services?
James Marshall was a carpenter from New Jersey, born in 1810. In the late 1840s he was hired by John Sutter to build a sawmill near Coloma, California. The sawmill was being built to provide lumber to the Sacramento Valley.
As Marshall and his men worked to build the sawmill in the American River, they soon realized that the water in that particular section was too shallow. There wasn’t enough water coming through to turn the wheel which powered the saw. They had to shut the water off to dig a deeper trench for the water to pass through.
On Monday January 24, 1848, Marshall was inspecting a section of the river below the mill when he spotted shiny metal flakes resting on some exposed bedrock. He took the metal back to Sutter where the two tested the metal privately. It was gold.
Between 1848 and 1850, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000. People poured into Northern California. Merchants popped up everywhere, supporting the miners with goods and services. And as the gold became more difficult to find, technological advancements helped the miners move and sift through an enormous amount of dirt. The gold rush truly transformed California and, over time, the entire country.
Here are a few applications from this story:
Only a small percentage of miners actually struck it rich, and yet people kept coming to California because of the allure that gold has. How can you better market and promote your goods and services in order to generate an increased level of appeal?
No one goes into the mine looking for dirt. They go in to look for gold, and yet there’s a lot of dirt that has to be moved in order to reach the gold. Ultimate success for you depends on your level of commitment, patience, and positivity. You will have to dig through some dirt, but don’t stop until you hit the gold.
That one speck of gold that Marshall discovered in 1848 was a small ripple that eventually generated a tidal wave of transformation throughout the country. You, your employees, and your company also have the potential to make a big impact on more people than you realize. The small investments you make today in your business can pay enormous dividends in the future. You never know. So, be aware of the kind of brand you are building. Be mindful of the people you surround yourself with. And be careful in how you treat others.
I will let you in on a little secret. No one can guarantee that an online video will go viral. And, while we’re on the subject, what constitutes “viral” anyway? Is it the amount of views? The amount of “likes?” If it’s based on the amount of views, how many must a video reach before it’s considered viral? There’s no doubt that businesses want their videos to go viral. They want millions of eyeballs tuned in to their content. But if those videos fail to convert customers, how successful has the video marketing campaign been? I think that the success of online video for marketers should be measured more in conversion versus views. More views will provide more opportunities for conversion, but if your goal is strictly to see how many views you can earn, then I believe you are focused on the wrong thing. When starting any video campaign, you should focus your efforts on content.
Content is still king. As a marketer, if you don’t have something valuable to say to your audience, then it doesn’t matter how funny, exciting, or awesome your video is. It will be difficult to find an audience willing to watch. Your videos should have a clear, concise message that’s delivered to your audience in a way that will capture and hold a viewer’s interest. Video is part art and part storytelling. Don’t be so concerned with pushing your product/service into the forefront. Rather, share a story, an experience, an event with a targeted audience. That’s where you will find the type of material that will entertain, engage, and convert.
I believe the next big thing with regards to online video is interactivity. Companies are already starting to explore how they can use interactive videos to enhance their brands and bolster customer engagement. In essence, an interactive video is comparable to the old choose-your-own-adventure books. Click-able items within the video allow viewers to determine the outcome of a particular story, or affect the video in some way. Retailers can insert links within videos to take viewers directly to a products page where they can purchase the items featured in the video. The fashion company French Connection has embraced interactive video by creating a custom YouTube channel and uploading short episodes with links back to their website where people can buy the clothes seen in the episode. For inspiration on how you can use interactive video for your own marketing efforts, take a look at this article, “10 Incredible Interactive YouTube Videos.”