The customer is King, but Users are your Universe – your “User-verse”. How do you stay at their center?
According to Forrester Research, by mid-decade over half of all purchasing will be done online. For post-digital people (think: Millenials & their iGen progeny), who represent the incoming wave of buyers, influencers and decision makers, this has already come to pass. Millenials are comfortable with technology; iGens are uncomfortable without it. Today’s post-digital citizens deftly filter and apply information to move smartly through life. Socializing and transacting online is ordinary and commonplace. Today’s cadre of decision makers, too, use mobile and social filters to navigate decisions and find relevance in the bit-torrent of change. Collectively, we are your expanding User-verse. For us, B2C and B2B are becoming less different. Now it’s U2E (Users to Everybody), and therein lies a challenge: filtering and relevance.
The challenge is especially acute for Marketing leaders, who are now being held accountable for ROI while also striving to maintain respect and relevance with audiences. Some organizations do a great job at meeting the needs of our always-on audience. I call them Fan Foundries. We recognize them by their digital presence in our lives: everything real-word is mirrored and ehanced online, where it can be detected and consumed by customers, suppliers, employees etc. In turn, our digital travels are observed by these smart Fan Foundries to determine how best to help us through our decision journey and, where appropriate, engage and buy. You know you’re dealing with a Fan Foundry when your next interaction feels like a continuation or enhancement of the prior one, rather than another blind date.
How are you doing?
How is your organization doing? Are you at the center of your Userverse? You probably know that answer, but try this experiment. Visit Amazon, iTunes, or some other online account you admire. Compare that online experience to that of your own business. If you don’t measure up, be assured somebody is going to steal your business soon. How soon? How about…while you’re reading this? If you’re still doing mainly interruptive, outbound marketing, yet your audience is filtering out your messages (via spamblock, TiVo, Unsubscribe, delete key, etc.), what are you doing to help yourself get found and stay relevant?
Fortunately, you no longer need a massive budget to master your User-verse. What, then, do you need? What does a balanced, humming Fan Foundry look like? Layer by layer, it might resemble this:
- Front end – Web interfaces (desktop, mobile, kiosk, email, social media, etc.). The online experience these days is spotty at best, but many good examples exist and they’re in plain view. Good poets borrow, so why not learn from the best, then adapt and refine it based on what you learn from your User-verse as they navigate your content, make choices, and send you signals about what they buy and why.
- Content layer – main website content, product/service literature, user-generated content (reviews, comments, etc.), custom apps, partner portals, blogs, e-newsletters, online forums, social media, customer care & service channels, etc. Rich content, re-formatted for channels and micro-audiences, is a golden opportunity to anticipate and delight users, keep you appropriately centered, and signal you on when and how to engage. Just like your web navigation, your content navigation can be tested and refined based on user behavior.
- Information management layer – CRM, marketing automation, analytics, modeling, planning, supply chain, financial datastores, etc. Here, with an array of connected technologies, you can dashboard, orchestrate and analyze the flow of people, information and material to discover competitive advantage and facilitate progress. Don’t let the geek factor frighten you from implementing some basic, essential tools. Dig in and ask for help. Or not. And be toast. (Suggestion: call us)
- Records/data layer – In an age where more and more data is publicly available and public-generated, your ability to harness data to learn and adapt more quickly could spell success or failure. Master this layer, and you can spend more time selling, transacting business and nurturing future customers while cutting out time-wasters. By cultivating your own data sources and applying your own relevance filters you can speed learning and adaptation, and improve your ability to reliably forecast a profitable future.
What stands in the way of progress? The usual responses are resources, people, skills, time, money, and appetite for change. Okay, but wouldn’t you like to delight customers and win new ones? Wouldn’t you like to substantially and sustainably grow revenue? Wouldn’t you like to still be in business and growing – or, if losing, at least know why you’re losing so you can adapt and improve?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, and you just need resources and expertise to make it happen, contact us.
Get started today! Visit our Resources page to download free planning tools.
- Users Are the New Growth Engine (blogs.hbr.org)
- Forget B2B and B2C; Hello, U2E (Users to Everyone) (FanFoundry article)
- The Second Economy (McKinsey Quarterly)
- The Sales and Marketing Alignment Conversation (FanFoundry article)
- Moving from Transaction to Engagement (hbr.org)