Rethinking business in the 21st century

The world of business and marketing is changing. And to survive, you will need to change and adapt with it.

Why? It’s changing for one simple reason: Technology and the Internet have transformed the way we connect, communicate, consume, share and service others. Businesses need to rethink how they will adapt to this changing world or perish in time to be replaced with business that thrive in such a dynamic digitalized environment. And I do not mean that you need to become the next Google, Amazon or Uber. What I mean is that you need to realise that business relationships and how consumers consume is happening increasingly through technology with data being the by-product that companies must use to manage technology driven relationships. Don’t do this, and risk a competitor or completely new disruptive innovator stealing relationships from you and making your business obsolete.

So how do you adapt? You start from the ground up. Measuring at scale, the behavior of your customers and potential customers, and using this so called “data” to make decisions for your business. The customer at the center really means the data at the center as data is customer behavior.

So what do you have to do to adapt? A lot of businesses need to transform in the way they think about data and technology. This is often referred to as the “digital transformation”, which is another way of operating a business in a digital hyper-connected era where technology and data are providing many disruptive innovators the tools to rapidly and efficiently serve a growing and tech savvy consumer.

You need to rethink measurment and place it at the center of your business operations to allow all departments from communications to legal, support, marketing and product development (to name a few) to operate coherently and efficiently. I am sure you have heard of placing the customer at the center? Well this is not in the literal sense of the word but in the fact that the “data” we are talking about — this new oil and currency of the future — is, and always has been, a proxy into human behavior. In the data you can understand what your customer needs and wants and make data driven decisions to serve them better. It comes down to having to build and nurture relationships at scale through technology with data (yes, through the websites, apps and devices we all know so well).

The real catalyst to the change we are seeing in business is the mobile phone. Especially the arrival of the smartphone, which empowered us in our ability to connect in even more meaningful ways to information, products we need and want, people and tools that help us live our lives.

In a mobile environment, the only ads people want to see are the ads they would miss if they were not there.

Consumers are expecting more and more from the brands they live with. They expect brands to be there in meaningful ways when they need them, offering them the answers they seek in the moments they seek them. Whether it be information on products, buying a ticket or service, forfilling a task or complaining about some bad experience, or just saying thank you! Customers are doing this already in the ways they can by the means they have available. Brands need to empower consumers to do all the things they need and want to do and measure the behavior through technology and data to understand the relationships and build a better business, which is after all, simply a relationship you build with a person that needs (and hopefully wants) something you have to offer.

Consumers expect this across all screens and devices and all touch points, online and offline, which may grow into the 100’s as they approach any given purchase. Each touch point is an opportunity for a brand to service a consumer and be there first ahead of the competition that can and often do hijack any relationship you had with a potential customer through technology and data.

What a pitty that so many businesses are focused on getting people to click ads. Stuffing messages in front of people in a hope they will click on it.

Something is wrong. And that something lies in understanding the intent of a person before you decide to interupt them.

Interupt them with something they need at that moment with a message they want and welcome and you will do well. This may not be in the form of an ad as we know it but instead helping them get to the next step of their journey with an action that will help them get there. Maybe they needed information, entertainment, inspiration, comparison, advice, motivation or just someone they can talk to.

Are you being useful to your potential customer at any given touch point?

Do you have the tools in place to be able to measure this usefulness?

How can you become even more useful in the future?

Do you even know what typical journeys your customers are taking before they eventually buy from you?

Have you thought about attributing your budget to touchpoints in this journey that have the most value to your potential customers? Invest in their happiness and it will come back to you many fold over.

There are now tools on the market available to you to be able to break down data silos and combine data and draw insights from it in order to help your customers when they need you. Connecting online channels with offline channels and attributing budget to the places that matter most for your customers and unltimately your business.

You need to ask yourself the question of what outcomes are you trying to achieve and then ask yourself how will we measure success of these outcomes? Once you know this, then you start to address: so how will we get there?

This post first appeared on my blog @baldemia

Cheers,

Chris

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