Kerry Grady, Founding Principal
In his book, “Pre-Suasion,” social psychologist Robert Cialdini shines a curious light on the art of effective persuasion, revealing that the secret doesn’t lie in the message, but in the key moment before that message is delivered. Cialdini, the bestselling author of the iconic book, “Legendary,” explains how to capitalize on that essential window of time before you deliver an important message – the “privileged moment for change” that prepares people to be receptive to a message before they experience it. As Cialdini says, optimal persuasion is achieved only through optimal pre-suasion. In other words, to change “minds” a pre-suader also must change “states of mind.” The beauty of this creative twist in storytelling – successfully mastered by the likes of Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell and Laura Hillenbrand – rests in its ability to unravel a mystery. It starts by positing a question, then taking the audience on a journey for the answer. Marketers like us, will do this through brand stories, case studies and narratives.
It has been quite a year – across all marketing fronts. Heading into 2021, marketers want to keep the momentum in areas like content marketing, marketing automation, customer engagement and social analytics, just to name a few. Ask for the goals and strategies they will focus on next year, and marketers say the game plans involve engaging and growing their communities, along with closely analyzing customer patterns throughout their journeys. The imperative in 2021 for marketers will continue to be customer experience. And, optimizing customer experience requires a combination of individualized insights, contextualized interactions, and fluid processes to engage the customer in their channels of choice. The marketers who can best paint such pictures and create such personal narratives are well on the way to establishing long-term brand loyalty.
Trends to Watch:
Know Thy Customer: In the race to know anything and everything about today’s ever-sophisticated consumer, Mike Sciortino believes that focusing on creating the client experience will be a major asset for any marketer. The founder of Gratitude Marketing and bestselling author of “Gratitude Marketing: How You Can Create Clients for Life,” Sciortino says companies that become memorable work hard to master the art of consistent, creative, fun engagement and deliberate, emotional connection with their customers. Sciortino says that knowing and creating the experience begins with asking the following questions: Do I have a systematic approach to consistently communicate with my top customers and top prospects? What are the most effective ways I am using to reach my customers today? Do I have a carefully crafted and specific plan in motion to position myself to be the thought leader in my industry, marketplace and community resulting in me staying relevant and “top of mind” with my customers and prospects for when their need for my services arises? Which marketing strategies have I tried to improve my business worked and which ones didn’t work? “To create the ultimate customer experience, be prepared to listen, and listen to be prepared,” Sciortino says. “Train your staff to listen intently to what customers are saying in the day-to-day operation of your business. Customers who feel like they are being listened to feel accepted and appreciated.”
Keep Thy Customer: With the rising costs of customer acquisition, brands will place greater emphasis on nurturing increased customer retention, increased customer referrals (one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing), and increased customer revenues (per customer). Customers want to be regularly reminded that they are important to you – It’s not up to your customers to remember you. It’s your job to constantly and consistently remind them of who you are and reinforce why they have a relationship with you.
Five Keys to Successful Marketing
1. Aggregate and refine your brand’s digital presence. Make sure to continuously optimize web pages and A/B test everything. By testing various hypotheses, you can gather real data about customer behavior, and then quickly make the changes to improve performance across digital touch points.
2. Use mobile to connect the dots. Mobile has strengthened brands’ ability to connect and reach customers at any time of the day. Consider all the ways customers are reaching your brand from mobile and optimize those interactions.
3. Create rich content. Optimize your content for context and strategic intent with a goal of enhancing the value of every customer interaction. Support a wide range of tactics to address branding, customer experience and performance objectives. This will help eliminate the noise and focus on relevant, pertinent content that truly aids in their buying journey.
4. Build your strategies with the buyer in mind. Know your customers and their tendencies, and then craft your game plan. To do this you must adopt and embrace change at every level of the organization.
5. Sales is not your customer. The buyer is your customer, so look to engage them and work with sales as a partner to reach them.
Be the Storyteller
The need for brands to inject storytelling into their marketing to tap into people’s emotions, aspirations and needs hasn’t changed. But the way brands can tell their stories has changed. Today, a brand’s narrative can be told through videos, tweets, posts, crowd-sourced content, rice media, etc. The best stories tap into people’s emotions because they genuinely connect to what a brand stands for. For example, find stories that stand out from a crowd, give a sense of belonging or confidence, and show how to succeed in life or how to feel secure. It’s about connecting the brand’s narrative to one’s personal narrative. The marketers who can best paint such pictures and create such personal narratives are well on the way to establishing long-term brand loyalty.