More than one hundred years ago, Henry Ford introduced the first conveyor belt assembly line for his Model T. Before that cars were a pretty rare and expensive product that only the richest people could afford. Through lower production costs resulting from the introduction of a conveyor belt, in 1925 Ford managed to decrease car production costs to USD 260. Cars turned into affordable mass products.
By the 1950s, the conveyor belt had been implemented as a standard in all developed industrial countries. The relevant experience and expertise were also applied to the production of household appliances and items for home and personal use, which also became significantly more affordable and higher quality. Through industrial production, the economy of that time basically reached its peak. Practically anything could be made and the product itself was no longer at the forefront. The story or brand began to add key value to products.From convincing consumers of what they need to trying to offer them the best user experience possible ... Click To Tweet
Product development began to focus increasingly more on sales and marketing. This was the beginning of a golden era for marketing agencies and the mass media, which were trying to convince people that they needed fridges, cars, toys, services, and so on. The consumer was placed at the center of the economy, whose goal was to convince consumers of what they needed.
Digital interfaces and user experience
Over the past ten years, during which the millennials have become a desirable target group, the situation has begun to change. The millennials didn’t grow up in front of the TV like the generations before them. Their development has been influenced by the internet and the mobile revolution. The amount of information available to them has provided them with a variety and amount of choice that no other generation before them had. The value or accessibility of information has become a key currency to them. They select the information and communication channels themselves and they respond significantly less to generic messages than the previous generations. They’ve discovered the world “on demand,” they don’t want to be bombarded with large quantities of marketing messages, and they refuse to be “passive consumers.” They are aware of their power. They want to be actively included and involved in developing the user experience offered to them by products and services.
Technology is changing the rules of the game and users are changing the customer engagement standards
It seems that the consumer society that was created by mass media and advertising, and which lasted for two or three generations, is now falling apart. The habits of the millennials are now also being adopted by those older than them. We do this a bit differently, but we nonetheless like the new options that we’ve gotten to know through them. We want to be informed, empowered, and feel well-informed. As consumers, we are starting to like the full transparency and unlimited sources of information, so we can check anything at any time at any place. And we like being able to share our experience with anyone through only a few clicks or touches on our smart phones.
Today’s consumers have all the information and constantly share everything with the rest of the world. Click To Tweet
Seventy-four per cent of managers believe that the purpose of digital transformation is to improve value for the customers.
Today’s digital economy is no longer based solely on creating and selling products, but on creating a better user experience with products or services than the competition. This applies to all stages of the customer lifecycle, not only the stage of marketing and winning new customers. User experience has become a key differentiator and foundation of providers’ uniqueness. The most successful companies are proving to be those that are best able to include their customers and raise their engagement to the highest level. These companies no longer need marketing communication in the sense of promoting products the old way. This role has been taken over by their satisfied users within their communities. As long as marketing (as well as sales and implementation) ensures a high level of user inclusion and engagement, the transaction goals of such businesses will automatically be met. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet fully adopted this mentality, at least not in large numbers. But there are exceptions, such as the Duth ZLM insurance company, which seeks to meet its financial objectives by rewarding employees based on the empirical measurements of customer satisfaction as the key value of its employees.
If there are no more traditional promotional approaches, what should marketing be doing then?
Let’s use an example to think about this …. What makes Uber different from the experience offered by other taxi providers in the eyes of the user? The basic aim of the service has actually not changed at all. But the experience is completely different. Let’s see: you start by ordering a taxi the same way at any place around the world (where they have Uber, of course). The driver that comes to pick you up knows you based on the information he or she got from his or her colleagues that have already driven you before. You can track the car that’s coming to pick you up on the map and you know exactly when the taxi is supposed to pick you up. You also know exactly who the driver is and how he or she has been rated by other users. You know the taxi fare in advance as well as the optimal route, travel time, and the time of arrival at your destination. You don’t have to pay cash. You don’t have to worry about how much taxi drivers are usually tipped in that specific country …Successful businesses offer such a good experience to users that they spread the word about it themselves. Click To Tweet
There seem to be a lot of advantages for the user. And so the service becomes a logical choice for everyone that tries it out. All Uber needs to achieve is that you try their service out at least once. Then you become a member of a community with whom they can directly communicate in a personalized way as a customer, also based on the information your smart phone conveys to them (in line with the relevant context).
Marketing as a technological skill?
Technology forms the basis for effective omnichannel communication throughout the customer lifecycle and is practically a vital precondition. The more the channels and the longer the customer lifecycle, the harder it is to provide omnichannel communication without excellent technological support. Technology is necessary, but it’s far from being a guarantee for success in and of itself. But you can succeed if alongside technology you know how to successfully innovate your business to the extent where you can discover an experience that your users will grow to like so much that they will spread the word about you in their social circle themselves. I think precisely this is the new mission of marketing and marketing communications.
P.S. Would you like to get to know the technology that the most successful companies in the world use to manage their omnichannel communication with customers? I’d be happy to prepare a presentation for you if you are able to stop by our office for two hours. You have my e-mail. 😉