What Customers Want
Posted by Becky Carroll on October 1, 2007
This summer, I spent some of my time as one of the judges for the 2007 Web Marketing Association’s WebAwards. While this was a fun experience, it also reminded me of the old phrase: more is not necessarily better. I judged some beautifully-executed sites, and those that appealed most to me were sites where the user/consumer was able to easily accomplish the task at hand (getting information, signing up, requesting contact, etc).
Unfortunately, many companies feel they need to make their sites flashier, cooler, and more “eye catching”. David Armano shares his thoughts on flashy sites and social media in his post last week inspired by a Globe and Mail article on the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia site redesign. David says this:
What does the Martha Stewart example, Bud TV, and Coke Show all have in common? Users couldn’t give a damn what they offer because it’s not relevant or valuable. Give them slick, flash special effects—”beautiful” visual design and artificially controlled “user generated content” and it all spells a recipe for disaster (IE, no traffic).
He then goes on to echo some of the sentiments I share here at Customers Rock! on a regular basis:
Folks, we really need to start understanding what really motivates users. There are literally millions of enthusiasts out there producing quality content in highly search engine friendly formats. Not only is much of their content easier to find on the Web—it’s engaging, relevant, and the people who produce it actually talk back to us. It’s time to wake up. We need to get out in the field and understand people—what motivates them, and why they behave the way they do.
Three cheers for you, David. You rock! It isn’t about “user generated content” or cool videos or avatars or flashy sites. It is about relevant marketing that speaks to the needs of our customers.
How can we do this type of marketing? We have to get out, engage our customers in conversation (online or offline at their place of consumption), learn from their feedback, and put what we learn into action within our organizations.
When we do this, we start to create customer relationships because we are offering something our customers need. If we do this correctly, some of the results are
- increased customer loyalty
- reduced customer concern about price
- improved barrier to exit.
Michele Miller has a great post on how to market to existing customers. Here are a few examples of some recent purchases she made without thought about price.
Spending $5.03 on a small container of veggies at AJ’s because the deli manager took the time to come out from behind the counter and find me in the store to tell me they were freshly steamed.
Spending $15 more for a pair of fitness shoes on NB Web Express, because they have a free return policy (they even print out the return slip and place in the box) and they write personal thank you notes to their customers.
Spending more than you want to know (you’d need smelling salts) on my Fuji road bike because when I was first shopping, the salesman at Bikes Direct spent 20 minutes talking about what my needs were and how I’d be using the bike before he even suggested trying one out.
Her examples are all typical of Customers Rock! companies: organizations that focus on their customers as a key to their future success in business. They nurture their customers. They thank them. And they listen to them, then sell what best meets each customer’s needs (rather than selling to reduce inventory or make commissions).
The sooner that companies start being more relevant for their customers and stop jumping on the social media/user-generated content/flashy website bandwagon just to “keep up with competitors”, the sooner real customer loyalty can flourish.
Can social media and other WOM marketing tools be effective? Yes! Should they be used? Absolutely – when they are executed the right way, with customer needs in mind.