Marketing is hard — harder than it used to be. Your marketing is supposed to generate motivated leads that your sales team can convert to sales. Yes, your product might be genuinely better than the competitor and you have some compelling unique selling point. The problem is that your customers don’t believe you. Marketing has lost the trust of the customers.
The broken trust of customers
Having grown up bombarded with marketing messages, Millennials and the younger Generation Z have absolutely no faith in them. They don’t even bother listening. Unfortunately the same is now true for business to business customers. They all know talk is cheap and a clever sales team will ‘sell ice to eskimos’ as the old saying goes. They also know there are plenty of companies unscrupulous enough to sell products and services that are far from being in the customer’s best interest, even harmful to them or other people through the product’s entire lifecycle. In fact, customers don’t trust their politicians, bank managers, or governments departments either. Their trust has been eroded from every angle.
“When customers assume you are untruthful, the answer is deceptively simple: prove that you aren’t.”
Hence, the carefully crafted sales presentations and marketing campaigns heralding why products would be of immense benefit to customers are a waste of time, as by extension would be attempts at cold calling. So what is a company to do when their customers by default assume they are untruthful? The answer is deceptively simple: prove that you aren’t. Saying so is obviously not going to work, you have to show them.
The search for authenticity
Research states quite clearly that millennials and their younger counterparts are searching for authenticity, for genuine connection, including companies they can believe in. In a way, they want to get to know you—who you are, what you do and how. They are guarded in placing their trust, but they really want to. They just want you to prove that they can.
Social media’s potential to engage
Social media is an excellent opportunity for this kind of discourse. It has the flexibility and fluidity that allows companies to introduce themselves, show who they are, how they make decisions and run their business. This can include showing the innards—the people, the processes, even the people who man the production line. This is what we do and where we stand for.
Venturing into transparency
But there is an opportunity to go a step further, to open up the company to be transparent. Manufacturing has always been an opaque process. For big ticket goods, the customer places an order and some time later, it is delivered, hopefully to customer requirements. But this process can also be made transparent. The customer can follow along their cherished product’s process from beginning to end, seeing each step of its journey, perhaps even making decisions and interactions along the way. In the search for authenticity, would a customer want to know who actually constructed their product? There is a good chance.
This does involve customer interaction on a scale unseen before, but in this era where the previous methods no longer serves its purpose, it might be worth considering giving customers access over talking to them when they refuse to listen.
Camilla Urdahl works for Social IoT company Unified Inbox, makers of the popular Outbox Pro social media publishing tool, and will speak to strangers at events about communications strategies, new business models, and how best to accelerate innovation. Follow Camilla and her conference adventures on Twitter @CamillaUrdahl. And learn more about Unified Inbox’s social media publishing tool Outbox Pro on https://app.outbox.pro!