Let’s talk for a moment about the significant culture shift of our time that has changed the way we look at business and marketing as a whole. We are living in the evolution of the humanization of business. This is a direct result of the evolution of the internet itself and the way we interact with the people around us.
Think back for a moment to what we know of business 100 years ago. You walked into the barber shop, sat down in the chair, the barber greeted you by name, and asked you if you wanted the same cut as two weeks ago. While he cut your hair he gave his praises to your son’s performance in the Friday night high school football game and asked if your wife got over that cold she had. When you left he personally thanked you with a handshake and a smile.
To you, that man wasn’t just the random barber, he was Tom, a man you trusted. The brand was as much your friend as the guy next to you listening to the baseball game on the radio. That context he built with you was enough that it didn’t matter how many barber shops popped up on the corner you would still get your hair cut at the same place and if someone needed a barber he was the first person you would suggest. As the American culture shifted so did the small town and customer service train of thought, but the new social web culture is bringing it back with a vengeance. Now we are closer than we have ever been before to not just our family and close friends, but acquaintances and businesses alike.
Marketing individuals and companies have turned customer acquisition into a science, some even better than others. Look at the original Groupon and Living Social trends. When they came out you couldn’t wait to get your hands on $50 worth of sushi for $20. Now, you are so sick of the emails that they could be offering a million dollar house for $100 bucks and you want nothing to do with them. They built no context with their end user, none, zero and now they can’t keep customers coming back. A handful of companies have tried to replicate their style, but none have been able to match the reach and popularity the originals once had.
There was a car salesman named Bearl Gosa who sold cars for years and never forgot to take care of a single customer. He sent “Happy Birthday” cards every year, called all of his customers just to check on how they were doing, and spent a great deal of his time just enjoying coffee at his desk with one of his customers. Many of whom would come by just to check on him. He has spent thousands of hours over the years going the extra mile to do things that didn’t instantly put a check in his pocket, but something very important happened. Bearl did not not advertise or stand on the lot waiting on new customers to walk up, yet he was constantly flooded with customers both new and repeat. They stormed the showroom floor asking to work with him and only him, ready to buy a new car. This, ladies and gentleman, is true Return on Investment and the social web has finally made it scale-able for big and small business to do the same thing! You can hire against it, now you can hire people who are passionate about marketing. A combination of a strong marketing company to lead the strategy and an in house staff that wants to engage with the people that are talking about your business. Trust me, they are talking.
We are now sharing more content about each other, products, services, things we like, and things we don’t like than ever before. Think about it for a minute. This moment when you checked your Facebook or twitter feed in the car on the way to work you saw some post saying something along the lines of “the new blend at Starbucks is awesome!” or “the coffee shop on main is horrible!” These are things that we would never pick up the phone and call even your closest friend about or even bother to send an email regarding to anyone. Yet, no in today’s world we blast this message to everyone in our social grasp without even thinking about it and it could reach people in numbers of the thousands! These micro-engagements are critical in today’s market and developing the social equity necessary to become successful at the next level.
Companies that want to be successful in the near future need to start now if they want to remain relevant, because when the breaking point happens they will not be able to catch up with money. Once an individual becomes truly loyal to a brand no flashing banner ad is going to make them switch. The minute someone has built context built with a logo, there won’t be an email in the world that will convert them. Going back to the car salesman, Bearl Gosa, built so much context with his customer base that he could send them to test drive a vehicle at another dealership to test it out before transferring it in without even blinking at the possibility of losing a sale to the competitor, even if the price is lower. We have a very small window of opportunity take advantage of this before the competition does and we need to start now without delay.
Execution is the key and ideas without follow through are useless. Remember, this is not zen stuff. We have zero interest in holding hands, drinking tea, and playing guitar in a circle. This social web is important because it sells and it is the only way to be successful in business for the years to come. What could be more important than your businesses reputation?