: Going forward, businesses must succumb to the power of the consumer.
Instead of interrupting their day with ads, advertisers must create something customers will choose to engage with. We must create marketing that adds value to people’s lives. I call this new model “marketing with meaning.”
The best starting point lies in delivering information and services that help customers make smarter buying decisions. Since they will most likely conduct research online anyway, you might as well offer your perspective. Examples that you can implement tomorrow include:
- Allow customers to post ratings and reviews on your website without editing. Often a few negative reviews actually add credibility–and give you the chance to address an issue directly.
- Create a “buying guide” for customers to help them make a smart decision about which of your products or services are best for them.
- Provide ongoing training and tips after a purchase to help customers get the most out of their purchases–which will eventually turn them into repeat customers.
Some businesses are taking the idea of marketing with meaning a step further, purposely preventing customers from incurring high fees and bills. Imagine a local bank that teaches customers how to avoid fees, a golf shop that stops a customer from buying the expensive new driver that will worsen his slice or a videographer who dissuades a customer from producing an unnecessarily long video despite the chance for higher sales. By actively stopping poor buying decisions–especially at the risk of lost sales–these businesses build enormous trust, earn loyalty for life and generate positive word-of-mouth marketing both online and offline.
In many ways this shift is a trip back-to-the-future. It harkens back to a time when the local shopkeeper treated our grandparents like neighbours. In a way, the interconnected world resulting from the openness of the internet has forced business to revert to these positive social norms of old.
Businesses that behave like neighbours will win, and advertising will look a lot better than most of what we see today.
photo courtesy of Adam Pieniazek
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