On the surface, the use of Social Media as a new way to influence buyer behavior may seem positively revolutionary. Sadly, it’s not…and the content creators that realize this will be the only ones who will succeed in making a name for themselves, and the products/services they hawk.
While it can be said that Social Media marketing is a faster, flashier and more intuitive way to communicate with customers, it’s only one part of the equation…and believe it or not, it’s not even the most important part. [Gasp!]
Yes, today’s consumers are purchasing different products, from different places, in different ways than in the past.
However, the reasons WHY they buy ‘Brand X’ or ‘Brand Y’ have remained constant for as long as people have been buying and selling things from each other.
OK. So why DO customers buy?
Anyone walking into The Apple Store (or going online) to buy the latest and greatest iPhone 6,7,8… has very likely gone through the same internal, emotional decision process that my parents did when they bought their first microwave oven.
….which is the same emotional decision process that my grandparents used to buy their first color TV.
….which is the same emotional decision process that my great-grandparents used to buy their first car.
Someday, my kids will go through the same internal process when choosing their first virtual-reality vacation package.
To be effective, all marketing – meaning everything that a customer reads, hears, experiences, shares and believes – must tap into something more than just whatever the functional purpose of the product or service is. In the past, this meant paying attention to the packaging and the promotion of a product in newspaper and magazine ads.
Today, those communication channels may have shifted from paper to pixels, but the marketing messages that successful brands are using to connect with their customers online have not.
Instead of newspapers and magazines, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and dozens of other online social media services are where people turn today for information and entertainment.
The good news (for marketers) is that because of social media, there are now more opportunities than ever to communicate directly with customers and prospects.
The bad news is that there are also many more ways companies can screw that up, including by not having an online presence at all.
(Coincidentally, it would appear that this dilemma is nothing new. Check out – New Ways to Reach Your Customers – Harvard Business Review, July 1981)
Marketing Motivators: Learn them, know them, live them.
Customers make purchased based not only on what the product can do (rational) but also because of how it makes them feel (emotional).
The proportion of one to the other depends on the person and the specific product.
For example the emotional appeal of one brand of cooking oil over another is probably much less than it would be for one type of car, article of clothing or brand of cell phone that one chooses over another.
Marketing pros have labeled these emotional triggers as the “5 Marketing Motivators” and they include (1) Fear, (2) Greed, (3) Guilt, (4) Exclusivity and (5) Need for Approval.
Here are few well-known examples of ad copy that set these motivators into action.
The 5 Marketing Motivators
- Fear – “Supplies are limited. Call now!” “Don’t leave home without it.” “For a limited time only.” “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
- Greed – “You deserve a break today.” “The best a man can get.” “Don’t just buy a car, invest in a Volvo.”
- Guilt – “Every Kiss Begins with Kay.” “Choosy moms choose Jiff.” “It’s 8 pm, do you know where your children are?” “Juicy Juice. All natural.100% Juice.”
- Exclusivity – “Membership has its privileges.” “Custom made.” “Limited edition.” “Hand crafted.”
- Need for Approval – Fueled by celebrity endorsements, expert reviews/recommendations, peer pressure, word-of-mouth and the ‘wisdom of crowds’.
But…doing business is different today, isn’t it?
There’s no doubt that many aspects of running a business today are very different than they were just five or ten years ago. If you were ask anyone walking down the street today, they’ll tell you that “things change” all the time and that “the world is a different place now” – they are right.
Holding on to a customer’s loyalty today – and ideally encouraging them to bring you more customers – requires more than just providing a good quality product or service. Customers today want, and often expect, to be treated with common courtesy before the sale, respect during the sale and appreciation after the sale.
Check out the McKinsey paper on customer lifecycle management (CLM) best practices.
Successful companies are accomplishing this by communicating with their customers on a regular basis. And social media channels are allowing them to do it more effectively than ever before.
These businesses are educating customers about the benefits of buying their products, congratulating them when they do buy, reminding them when it’s time to buy again, rewarding them for doing so and encouraging them to tell all their Friends along the way too.
Are you talking with customers or @ customers?
Thanks to the speed and power of mobile devices and the Internet, this truly is the age of “what have you done for me lately” when it comes to keeping a customer happy and coming back for more.
Remember, its called Social Media not SELLING Media. Here’s Hubspot’s take on ‘Social Selling’ during the Buyer’s Journey.
The bottom line: If all you ever say to your social media audience is BUY-BUY-BUY, be prepared for them to say the same thing to you:
Attention All Online Marketers: Act now…or it’ll be Bye Bye Bye! for you.
The sooner that companies not only accept, but also engage with their customers’ praises and complaints, the sooner they will be able to understand what their customers really want – and what they really don’t.
If not, the competition is only a click away.
The last word –
File this little nugget of wisdom away into the back of your mind. When you’re struggling to decide whether or not you should be engaged with customers on social media, ask yourself “Do my customers want me there?”
“The Purpose of ANY Business is to create and keep a Customer. To do that, companies must do the things that make people want to do business with them. All other truths on this subject are merely derivative.“
Ted Levitt, author, editor and professor at the Harvard Business School penned these words in his book, ‘The Marketing Imagination‘ way back in 1983. IMHO, truer words have yet to be published on the subject since.