WSILTY-rubin-emlimgThe words “customer experience” and “engagement” are being bandied about a lot lately, and new tools are being created every day to supposedly help brands bridge the gap between engagement and sales. But let’s not get the cart before the horse. Before you go out and spend money on the next big CEM or SaaS tool, there are two basic principles you need to work on:

  • A Deep Understanding of Your Audience
  • A Crystal-Clear Value Proposition

If this sounds like Marketing 101 to you, well, you’re right. But you’d be surprised how many brands throw these tried and true principles out the window in favor of the next “big idea.” After all, this is a new era, right? Isn’t exploding technology turning marketing on its head?

Yes and no. It’s true that we’re charting new ground when it comes to social connection and engagement, and technology is changing so fast it’s hard to keep up. In this environment it’s easy to feel you’re getting left behind; however, the truth is that we’re all people being carried by the same current. Rather than desperately grasping at every new tool that floats by, it pays to do something counter-intuitive: relax, observe and think.

Who is your audience (really)?

Today’s technologies allow us a myriad of ways to listen to our audiences and learn about their pains, passions and preferences. But do we do it? Not as well as we should. We get caught up in “big data,” but don’t often look deeper. Take a leaf from the old-school books on direct response marketing and spend quality time listening to what your audience has to say. Where do they hang out? What are their dreams? What are their problems? How do they live, play and work? What are the social issues that matter most to them? Unlike the “focus group” marketing of yesteryear, social platforms have brought this type of listening to a whole new level if we’ll just use them.

I’ve talked before about manually digging into people’s social profiles to learn more about them. When brands direct more resources to this type of listening, they gain much greater understanding of their customers and prospects as individuals with hopes, dreams and everyday problems. It’s this knowledge that helps them scale connectivity and engagement, and allows them to create the memorable experiences their audience wants to share.

Why should your audience listen to you?

Today’s consumer is busy, distracted and a little overwhelmed with technology, so once you get to know them, spend time thinking about how you help them. If we spent more time asking ourselves “How can I help?” rather than “How can I sell?” we would be a lot better off.

What makes your brand special? What is it about what you offer (or the way you offer it) that makes people sit up and take notice? Better yet, what makes their experiences with your brand unique? When you know your audience well enough to understand their motivations and empathize with them, it’s much easier to distill your unique value proposition. Having a crystal-clear vision of your value helps your brand in two ways. It helps you create content that will attract your audience, and gives your employees a mission standard for ensuring that all experiences with your brand are exceptional.

Listening to your audience and using what you learn to develop a clear mission and value statement will help you put strategy before tactics—a big advantage in a rapidly changing environment. So before jumping at the next tactic in the technology stream, make sure you are using the tools you already have to answer the #WSILTY question first.

Originally posted at The Marketing Scope, July 7th, 2015

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