Early on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 13th, greeted by breakfast treats and coffee, guests gathered at International Market Square; everyone was eager to hear from David Cooperstein to talk about branding for the 21st Century presented by the Advertising Federation of Minnesota (Ad Fed). His presentation was packed full of wonderful insights; the following is a review of the facts – facts we need to know.
Over the years, Cooperstein has learned a lot about what consumers are willing to do with technology. They have high expectations and delivery has become more challenging in the 21st century. The average US adult spends thirteen hours per week online on a PC, 60 percent have mobile Internet, and 35 million adults have DVRs. Media consumption has changed fundamentally, and how people are interacting is changing as well. In 2007, there were no conversationalists, now 36 percent of media consumers consider themselves to be conversationalists. Back then 44 percentage of media consumers were completely inactive when it came to interaction, now that’s only 14 percent. The biggest numbers: 73 percent of media consumers are spectators and 68 percent are joiners in the interactive market. This means consumers are out there, watching, reading, and analyzing all the time.
Every interaction is like a mini conversation, usually consisting of photographs, images and locations. Millennials like Instagram the most, because the tool can shrink a network and communicate with pictures and less conversation. From 2010 to 2011 Millennials trended down in talking on phones and up in entertainment and super-connected. Surprisingly, communicators were down a bit, too.
How about watching TV and interacting? I don’t mean yelling at the TV and no one else can hear you, how about yelling at the TV via your Twitter account by concurrently watching shows and tweeting. 63% of Gen X (30-43 years old) and 74% of Gen Y (18-29 years old) are interactive online while watching TV shows.
What does this mean for marketers? According to David Cooperstein, its “The Age of the Customer.” The sources of competitive advantage have changed over time. Through the 50’s was the Age of Manufacturing, 50’s – 90’s was the Age of Distribution, more recently ‘90s – 2010 was the Age of Information. Now the Age of the Customer is in full boom and companies that have been excelling at maximizing the experience of the customer include USAA, Amazon and Southwest Airlines. Why do customers feel this way about the companies? They have become “customer obsessed”. They understand what the customer needs.
Products need to become customer-centric. Instead of following the old marketing funnel: (Awareness -> Consideration -> Preference -> Purchase -> Loyalty), the new pattern is a continuing circle. Starting with discovering the needs of the customer, then exploring what and who serves those needs, then maximizing the retail experience with the buy and finally engaging those customers, keeping them loyal and continuing to discover more about them. Constantly discovering new needs and locking customers into the ecosystem, a good example is Apple and how integrated all their products and systems are. Apple creates a need for the next Apple product; this works in the new Age of the customer.
Customer obsession is all about building value around the customer and not around the channel or the product.
There are four pillars to a customer obsessed strategy:
- Real time customer insight: More social listening and media optimization, less unengaged emails and in-person focus groups.
- Holistic customer experience: More culture and volume metrics, less automated service and use of a single channel.
- Intelligent sales channel: More direct customer interaction and collaboration tools, less single channel programs and third party channels.
- Interactive marketing: More branded digital content and earned media strategies, less static & one way advertising.
In the new Age of the Customer, marketers need to keep in mind that traditional brand building vehicles yield lower mileage. The brand should be owned by the consumer, not by the company creating it.
The four standards to measure by in this new Age:
- Credibility: Brand pride drives referral
- Leadership: Societal contributions drive pricing power, customers have a willingness to pay a premium when the product makes the world a better place
- Uniqueness: Special experiences – a brand making the customer feel special will also drive them to pay a higher price
- Preference: An indispensable brand that people cannot do without
We can guide brands into the 21st century by defining three main components: A Brand North Star (goal), Brand Map (how to get there), and Brand Compass (make sure you’re on the right path).
A North Star needs to be honest, strategic (a guiding light, not just a tagline), inspirational (what you hope to deliver and what you can deliver), and concise.
A Brand Map needs to be continually updated with actions that define how the brand interacts with the world, products that align and augment offerings with actions, and messages that shape and share the brand message overall.
A Brand Compass must have each of the four directions:
- Trusted: Earn trust by guiding the brand to be more transparent and accountable
- Remarkable: Disrupt the market in a way that inspires people to talk about the brand
- Unmistakable: Easily recognizable, more than just a logo
- Essential: the brand must be necessary for the customer, to earn loyalty
To wrap it up, Cooperstein reiterated: “Branding in the 21st Century is not just about marketing differently, it is about fundamentally changing how the company does business.”
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