Marketing and advertising practitioners have spent decades formulating and re-formulating odd, complicated, and even divisive audience segmentations. Primarily, these partitions were based on age: Baby Boomers, Generation X’s (that’s me) and, recently, Millennials. These designations are an attempt to homogenize a population so that mass messaging can be “directed” to a particular audience. They work, at least sometimes. (We had some good results launching a cool ebook called For Your Inspiration that showcased quotes by Millennial leaders.)
While there are unique and distinct age-based audiences, there is also a better way: truth-telling and helpfulness. Simply put, today’s consumers want to inform themselves. Armed with easy access to information, prospective buyers, across every generation and demographic, today make decisions about what they will buy and from whom they will buy it before contacting a business. In fact, one study found that 81% of consumers do online research before making a purchase. In the B2B world, data suggests that buyers get 60% of their way through a sales process before speaking to a sales rep.
So, why is this important? The web has fundamentally changed the way businesses and consumers interact. Potential customers want to know why your business is unique or why your product or service is better. They also want to connect on some level with your values. The more you can connect with customers, the more likely they are to share this connection with others.
Before online technology, consumers often relied on referrals from their neighbours. Who is a good plumber? Know anyone who does siding? Many industries were built on this referral system. The new referral system is now online. Consumers are interconnected on many platforms and are sharing their experiences with others. Yelp, Amazon, Google have ways for consumers to interact and share their experiences, as do, of course, social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.
This interconnectivity between consumers and companies is a great way to build bridges between your business and potential buyers, patrons or members. By providing information that your consumers are seeking and by responding to their feedback, you can connect with them in more personal and human ways that nurtures and grows relationships.
Your website plays a vital role in promoting this interconnectivity. You can build a bridge between your business or organization and potential customers and clients by articulating the unique values and qualities your business represents. This can consist of blog posts, newsletters, and offers. All of this content will help purchasers make a buying decision. Remember, many consumers have already completed 50-70% of the buying process. Your job and that of your website is to help them understand why they should choose you. As Marcus Sheridan says, “Someone is going to solve your customer’s problems online. That someone should be you.”
If you are looking for some content ideas to help you connect to your audience, please take a look at our downloadable social responsibility calendar. It highlights important dates with tips and suggestions on how to use this information to inform visitors about your values and vision.