How can companies differentiate themselves in today’s global market by managing their digital customer experiences? It’s an interesting question, pulling at the key issues facing today’s digital marketer in our crowded, noisy, always-online world–attracting attention by being different, being global, and the business imperative of the moment: customer experience management.
To address that, I want to call on another business practice gaining traction in the toolbox of the contemporary marketer: content marketing. As you know, the core tenet of content marketing is to tell stories, to move beyond the stuff that your audience currently has no interest in–you, your product or your services–and to discuss what they care about–their interests, problems, professions, or needs.
Viewed another way, the goal is to get other people like your audience to talk about you, your product, or your services and their problems, professions, or needs at the same time.
This isn’t just about being different, emblazoning your brand down the side of a 100-foot inflatable pink submarine in Times Square. This is about being like them, or to be, as Seth Godin describes, “in their tribe.”
The initiation into that tribe comes through building a sustainable engagement with this group of people by offering something that is of value to those things they care about. (Note that I used the term “people” rather than consumers, customers, or even audience).
It is important to create marketing assets that don’t interrupt and scream “buy me,” but rather gently usher the consumer toward choosing to engage with something that is relevant and useful to them.
Here is an example. As a reader of Future CX, I would imagine you’d be interested in reading, “The 5 Lessons From the Best Example of Content Marketing Ever.”
You might have even clicked that link and then, having read the article, pondered subscribing to updates on the book that it subtly promotes. But what if instead of me including a link to it here, a pop-up interrupted your reading pleasure with “BUY JAY BAER’S BOOK TODAY–IT HAS THE BEST CASE STUDY IN IT.” You’d probably click the close button before you’d even registered the author’s name.
The interruption – in this case a pop-up – was not useful. However, in the article, Baer offered some great, useful content, which appealed to me as a marketer and that I thought you might like, too. It was valuable to me, my needs, and what I care about. Also by associating this article with Baer, maybe I have built a little bit of your trust in this article, in me, and maybe the services and products of our company.
My point is, differentiation isn’t about being louder, cheaper, faster, or having more features and buttons. Rather, differentiation will be created through engagement. It will move the conversation from a war of the feature tick-boxes–a price war that nobody wins (including the customer) –to a matter of trust.
You understand me. I like you. People who I know are like me like you. I trust you, and I buy from you.
I previously stumbled across a curiously great example of this. The owner of The Regency, a fish-and-chip shop in Brighton, U.K., noticed an influx of new customers who, in particular, were Chinese tourists.
It turns out that if you search for “Best Restaurant Brighton” in Google’s Chinese Mandarin site, The Regency tops the rankings. Could this be a fiendish SEO plot by some super savvy Web developer? No. Unknown to the restaurant, a Chinese celebrity chef had enjoyed a meal there and wrote about it in his culinary blog. The article was featured on Google and created some buzz on the Chinese social networking site Renren.
The effect is that this restaurant is on the “to-do” list of an army of Chinese visitors to the U.K., who found that review useful. This happy army is now marketers for the restaurant who share their experiences, fueling the buzz on their local social networks.
I share this example because it’s a wonderfully unintentioned simple story of global customer engagement and the power of advocacy. This advocacy and acceptance within the tribe is the differentiation for this restaurant from 100 others on the Brighton Sea Front. It’s not cheaper or faster, doesn’t have a bigger menu or commercials during the Super Bowl, or a flashier sign–it’s trusted.
So back to the original question, “How can companies differentiate themselves in today’s global market by managing their digital customer experiences?” The answer is simple–by building trust. And being useful through content marketing is a good start.
Ian Truscott is the Senior Vice President of Content Strategy at Tahzoo. This article was originally published in CMO.com.