The hard-drinking, hard-selling Don Draper's of the sales and marketing world are being confined to history, largely due to the savviness of modern consumers. E-commerce has changed the game, with consumers now having the ability to conduct extensive searches pre-purchase and the capability to interact with each other post-purchase via numerous online platforms. These online communities have connected people like never before, and handed back a certain level of control to the masses. For all the talk of the ‘post-truth era’ that we’re now apparently slap bang in the middle of, this shared connectivity and communal attitude towards how we are treated as consumers is at least something to be grateful for.
For companies, this has meant that the way in which they interact with their customers has had to change; adapt or be left behind. Instead of being hounded by sales people and bombarded by advertisements, companies are increasingly choosing to instead provide real value to customers in the form of visual and written content. This kind of content is vast and varied, and includes ‘how-to’ guides, funny or heart-warming videos, engaging blog posts, and free eBooks.
By giving consumers this free media, companies are creating a dialogue between themselves and customers and creating an environment where customers often actively seek out their content, thus reversing the way in which we interact with them. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is all just out of the goodness of companies’ hearts. As consumers, we increasingly have control of the advertising that we’re exposed to, in the form of online ad blockers, and with on-demand TV, such as Netflix, we are free to watch our favourite shows without those pesky adverts.
Likewise with print media, who’s sales figures continue to fall in the face of an increasing online readership. The beauty of this shift is that it has levelled the playing field. Whether you’re an entrepreneur with your own start-up or the Marketing Director for Apple, valuable content is valuable content. If you’re the former, you don’t have to bankrupt yourself just to take out a miniscule advert in some local paper in the hope that members of your target group happen to see it. You just need to share your industry-relevant insights and knowledge in an engaging way and start building a lasting and two-way relationship with your customers that will one day hopefully develop into a community.
So if you want to add value, start creating.