Live a Customers Life

18th May 2020

What is it that helps one brand become a rip-roaring success while others falter and fail? According to research by Siegal and Gale, in conjunction with Shift Thinking, successful marketers approach marketing in an unconventional way.

 

More about the study

Traditionally marketing is about getting your brand out there and making it known. However, successful digital marketers turn this concept on its head. They focus on how to position their brand in their client’s lives. They look at clients as users instead of merely buyers. 

This difference in point of view means that the focus shifts from just getting someone to buy your product, through the sale and to the aftersales service. What this means, in a nutshell, is that they focus on the entire lifetime value of the client, rather than just making a quick sale. 

The study found some interesting things. For starters, it focused on a range of 50 brands from both the traditional and digital marketplaces. Respondents were asked: 

• How they viewed the brands

Which brands they preferred

• How they used the brand

• If they would promote the brand at a later stage

The brands were split into two sections – legacy brands and newcomer brands. Legacy brands are those that have been well-established and that everyone knows about. A newcomer brand is the “new kid on the block.”

In addition to the actual respondents’ answers, the company also drew on existing brand ratings and net promoter scores. That evaluation wasn’t enough, though. The company examined this information in terms of the marketing strategies and expenses of the company concerned. 

Now, as you would expect, the legacy brands were more well-known and respected. The newcomer brands, on the other hand, scored well in areas relating to how the company makes clients’ lives easier. 

The upshot, then, is that while it’s nice to have an established brand, it’s better to have one that’s perceived as useful. People are more likely to turn to the brand that makes their lives easier. 

Another interesting observation was that while legacy brands were well-known through traditional media, digital brands relied more on word of mouth recommendations and social media marketing. 

There are two different brand types

The company further found that there was a distinct difference between what it called usage brands and purchase brands. Let’s have a look at these a little more closely. 

Usage brands represent companies focused on getting people to use their products. Purchase brands are focused on creating a demand for their product. Now, granted, those sound very similar, but there’s a really subtle difference here. 

A person using a product is more likely to recommend it to others and will want to buy it again in the future. If you’re creating a demand for a product, it will sell. But if people aren’t really using it, they’re not buying more in a hurry or recommending it to their friends. 

Why usage is more important than a simple purchase

Let’s look at a simple example of this in action. If you go to the makeup section of a beauty store, the staff are going to offer you a makeover and samples to try. This is a traditional technique and one that has proven very successful in the past. 

It will work. People are going to consider buying the makeup after seeing it applied to their skin. But there is a problem here as well. The makeup has been professionally applied at the sales counter, so a customer might not have the skills to replicate it at home. 

Sephora takes an entirely different tack. They’ll teach you how to apply the makeup and will ensure that you have resources to draw on when you’re at home. 

Of the two, which company do you think gets the most repeat business? Sephora, naturally. Think about it this way. If you buy a product and you can’t figure out how to use it, what do you do? You’ll stick it in a drawer until you can find out. It could stay there forever.

With Sephora providing the support that their clients need, they are ensuring that those clients can use their products. Clients will, therefore, be more likely to buy and use the products. 

Purchase brands chase promotions

Another trick used by successful newcomers is that they focus on advocacy rather than promotion. So, instead of convincing you to buy through marketing, they’ll encourage your friends to advertise for them.

This goes a lot deeper than simply offering rewards for referrals. It also entails setting up systems that encourage clients to share with their friends. 

Let’s say that you’re marketing a new game on Facebook. You could spend a ton of money buying advertising. Or you could create a system that allows your players to challenge friends to matches, or to beat your best score, and so on. 

This kind of strategy creates an extra element of fun for the game. It makes it more exciting if players can challenge their friends, and, to put the cherry on top, this form of promotion is very similar to word of mouth recommendations. 

Worry more about what clients say to one another

Another way that a usage brand makes a difference is in how much emphasis it places on what clients are saying to one another. A purchase brand carefully tracks what it says to clients. Every message is on point and designed to get that purchase. 

By contrast, take a company like Airbnb. They focus more on getting clients to recommend their brand for them. As a result, they make it easy for guests to share their experiences and create content. 

And it’s working for them. Let’s be honest here, who believes what they read in the marketing material a company puts out? But if Joe Bloggs from London says that the view was outstanding, and posts a picture of that view, it instantly becomes more believable.

 

Is traditional marketing outdated?  

That’s something of a loaded question, and it’s something that has to be evaluated on a brand by brand basis. In some industries, having user reviews is not necessarily going to work out for you. Joe Bloggs might, for example, be excited about his trip to London and want to post pictures. 

What if he was going on business, or for a funeral, though? Would he want to post pictures of the funeral service or a glowing testimonial about the brand? That’s not very likely, so in this case, traditional advertising would be the better option. 

 

Why not work on a combination of the two?    

Now, naturally, the best option would be to work on a combination of the two. You can switch to promotional material that encourages the usage of your products. You can also work at building an ongoing relationship with your clients. 

Let’s take this back to the Sephora example to see how this could work. Perhaps the team at Sephora could offer a makeover to a client. That allows the client to see what the makeup will look like on them. It’ll also help them narrow down which products to purchase. 

But Sephora also wants the client to be able to get the same look at home. So, they create a video of the techniques that were used that clients can refer back to. They could also give updates on the latest makeup techniques and how they can be adapted for different looks. 

Shift your thinking

The key to getting this form of marketing right is in ensuring that you think a few steps ahead. Think past that first sale and create an environment where clients want to keep coming back. If you can build a solid relationship with your clients, you have a better chance of creating real advocates for your brand. 

Shifting your focus in this manner can help to increase loyalty for your brand as well, which makes them a lot less likely to jump ship. Also, if you can lock in brand loyalty, you’ll get away with a higher profit margin as well. 

 

Why you have to build your client relationship  

When thinking about building the relationship, it’s not enough to simply court your clients until they make a purchase. Many companies make this mistake and end up paying for it in the long run. They are so busy chasing after new clients, that they ignore existing ones. 

This attitude pushes sales in the short-term, but your client is bound to feel a bit used. You chased them until they bought, and once they bought, you moved on. Now, what if instead of doing that, you followed up with them a few days after the purchase to check how things were going? 

The aim of this follow-up call is not to try and sell anything else. Instead, it’s to continue that bond. And yes, for a salesperson with targets to chase, it is work that could fall on the back burner. But, maintain the relationship, and when the client needs a replacement, they’ll seek you out.

Besides that, they’ll be so delighted that you followed up that they might well be willing to leave a positive review. At the very least, they’ll tell some friends and family about it. So, while there’s no tangible benefit to that phone call straight away, it is essential.

We need to also take into consideration the potential leads that this client could refer to us. If he tells ten people about the company, you’re ahead. Even if only two people decide to buy from you, you’re still ahead. 

One small, two-minute follow-up phone call could be one of the best investments you might make in your business as a whole. 

 

And finally…    

Consumer expectations are shifting. Brands that continue to be successful are those that adopt a different approach to marketing. Instead of focusing on everything that happens before the sale, they look at what happens afterwards. 

They make it as easy as possible for the client to share their own personal experiences. Why? Because there really is nothing better than a word of mouth recommendation. In the business world today, it’s like gold. 

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