The pandemic brought with it many new and surprising changes in how companies do business. One of the most interesting, and most impactful, changes for organizations has been how consumers engage with brands. Accenture’s recent research, “Reimagined Consumers Will Abandon Brands That Don’t Support Their New Values — and Pay More to Those That Do,” explored this very topic and the results were clear. Consumers are re-thinking how they interact with others and have re-evaluated priorities in life. This includes the types of brands that will get their business in the future. These consumers were much more willing to change brands if they did not feel the brand promise was in alignment with their core values. They also said they would spend more money with brands that they felt supported and understood their needs during challenging times.
Digital engagement is actually person to person.
This can translate to a simple construct: the more human the brand, the more business that brand may get. These consumers looked at factors other than just price and quality; trust and brand reputation factored into their decisions. This trust encompassed brands taking responsibility to live by their values and be more relevant in today’s world.
NO LONGER A NEBULOUS CONCEPT
Consumers are looking for companies that represent and reflect their values, their beliefs, and their sense of purpose in the world today. Brands of the PPE (Pre-Pandemic Era) could float out in the ether as a nebulous concept with no real shape or form. Those types of companies may still try to exist on that plane, but companies that do are missing out. They fail to capitalize on retaining customers as well as attracting new customers.
And those new customers may be willing to pay more for the relevancy brought to the business exchange.
The antiquated constructs of business-to-business or business-to-consumer (B2B or B2C) do not take into account this new shift in consumer beliefs or wishes. Prospects and customers want a deeper focus on building the relationship, having a brand reflect today’s current values and providing the type of support and alignment that makes the interaction feel more like an investment in a relationship.
Instead of looking at organizations as one end of a transaction, companies that wish to grow in the current paradigm must look at the who in the interaction. The focus must now move to people-to-people or person-to-person (P2P).
HOW TO TRANSLATE DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT INTO P2P
Digital engagement and communication are set up to be much more humanistic than many organizations allow. The focus on connection and community is readily available for organizations. By allowing the people behind the brand to emerge out of the shadows, companies can move beyond the products and services they sell and provide engagement with the people who create those products and services.
Several recommendations can be quickly applied by any organization to move past B2B and B2C and move into a P2P interaction. Here are three ways to help move in that direction:
Many Voices, One Brand
There was a time when one person was sharing content on behalf of the organization. Smart organizations, however, have moved to sharing several different voices and points of view in their digital communications.
Not only does this allow different viewpoints from a brand perspective, it also keeps content fresh, as many voices make the brand what it is today. Providing different styles of content engages more than one type of prospect, which sets up potential growth.
Focus on the Individual in Every Interaction
It should be obvious that the individual consumer must be a focus. But what about when businesses market to other businesses? There are individuals that each business brings to the table for the engagement, and each one is important in bringing a different viewpoint. When creating content, consider the personality of the key players in the receiving organization. What are their individual roadblocks? How do they define success? Always consider the individual sending and the one receiving the communication. Because either way, a person is on each end of that communication.
Know Where the Power Lies
It has been said that consumers are now holding all the cards in the business interaction and have no plans to give them back. When organizations look at who is in control of the communication, the power lies with the consumer, not with the company. Organizations need to understand this fundamental shift in power to the person receiving marketing and communication. This will help move communication to a person-to-person level and allow the consumer to drive the engagement, which is what the consumer not only wants but demands in today’s digital paradigm.
REAP THE REWARDS
Taking the opportunity to bring in humanity into any organization’s digital communications can bring accelerated digital growth and engagement. This may feel like a risk to some organizations. However, the new paradigm has shifted this from novelty to necessity.
By switching the focus from B2B or B2C to P2P, digital communication can be realigned to meet the current demands of audiences. With this ever-changing shift in consumer behavior, thinking about how one person communicates with another has become a cornerstone in digital engagement. This is no longer a passing trend but a new way of being, and the organization that embraces this way of being will reap the rewards.
Lisa Apolinski, CMC, is an international speaker, digital strategist, author, and founder of 3 Dog Write. She works with companies to develop and share their message using digital assets. Her latest book, Persuade With A Digital Content Story, was named one of the top content marketing books in the world by Book Authority. For information on her agency’s digital services visit www.3DogWrite.com.