There’s no denying that the Internet, including Social Media, has significantly changed the way people do business. The attitudes of customers as a whole have shifted, and the power is moving into the hands of those customers more and more every day. While some of the changes brought about by the move to online communications are more obvious than others, what’s clear is that the companies that will thrive going forward are those that learn to adapt their thinking as the business world changes. If you’re a student of old-school business and marketing, you might still be clinging to some outdated beliefs about what’s important in your business. To help illustrate the shift we’re talking about and provide some pointers on how to deal with the changes, following are three things that just don’t matter as much as they used to, and what really matters today.
1. Quality – What? Quality doesn’t matter? Of course it does. Quality is more of an expectation now though. What that means is that you can no longer tout your product or service’s quality as the primary reason for doing business with your company. You need to go beyond quality.
2. Price – Like quality, price is certainly important to some extent, but competing on price alone just won’t cut it. If you’re the low-price leader, and that’s all you’ve got going for you, you’re in trouble. With advances in manufacturing processes and the continued move to inexpensive, overseas solutions, “cheap” is easier to come by than true differentiation.
3. Testimonials – Have some customers who love you? Guess what – so does your competition. While there’s nothing wrong with displaying testimonials on your site, don’t expect them to be the thing that swings customers your way. First of all, we’ve all become a little distrusting of testimonials. Secondly, customers know that testimonials from a company are like references on your resume: You’re only going to list those you know have something great to say, so how much do they really matter?
What matters today…
1. Simplicity – Customers want processes to be simple. This goes for every step of the customer experience, from ordering to paying, from shipping to customer service issues. Make things too complicated, whether it’s with your order process or how people use your product, and they’ll go elsewhere.
2. Innovation – More strides in innovation have taken place in the past 20 years than in the previous 100, and we’re all eating it up. People love the latest and greatest, and if it makes them look cool, all the better. If your products and processes offer a new or better way of doing things, you’ll attract customers and keep them coming back for more.
3. Honesty – One word that has become more than just another buzzword lately is “transparency.” It’s no secret that our current economic condition is at least in part due to a lack of transparency, and people are fed up with it. Even a hint of impropriety or dishonesty will have your potential customers running for the hills. People have always wanted to be treated with honesty, but today more than ever, they’re demanding it, and looking out for any chinks in the integrity armor.
4. Straight Talk – This goes along with honesty, but it’s a little different. Straight talk has to do with getting rid of all the games that companies often play. For example, when a guarantee or discount is offered, but the little asterisk next to the headline refers to a litany of conditions, restrictions, and limitations, it quickly deflates any excitement the original offer created. This also goes back to the simplicity point. Straight, simple talk is what will win customers over now, not perceived tricks and scams.
The companies that survive and thrive in the economy of today and the years to come will be able to identify these and other changes in public wants and needs and adjust their game plans accordingly. Those that can’t or aren’t willing to adapt on the fly will simply go away. It’s survival of the fittest, and the fittest in business are those who evolve the most efficiently. What are your thoughts? We’d love to continue the conversation in the comments section!