Friday Jul 04, 2014

The Buyer Revolution: Let Freedom Ring

Social media truly did amount to a consumer revolution. And if you don’t believe that, simply think back to what life was like before the revolution.

The mantra was “buyer beware.” It was a battle cry that meant brands were largely out to trick you, sell you garbage. If you fell for it, it was your fault for not being smart enough to see through the charade. But even more importantly, “buyer beware” was a pre-emptive warning to remind you that you, as the customer, had little to no recourse if you mistakenly believed in the brand. Gotcha.

Your choices in a particular type of product were slim. And your sources of information that might lead to you discovering competitors and options were limited. In nearly every category, you were aware of two or three of the “big guys.” And, of course, the big guys were barely distinguishable from each other. Why would they need to be?

And not only did brands only care what customers thought to the extent they could be manipulated, they built brick walls, barriers and hurdles between themselves and the customer that were so well-crafted and impenetrable, they remain obstacles to change inside enterprises to this very day.

Fast forward to July 4, 2014. A single consumer voice is connected to other single voices such that it can amount to millions. A circle of influence of about 8 people is now one of tens of thousands, or more. The consumer who formerly could only see what was nearby or marketed to them can now proactively seek out everything that’s available on the planet…with a click.

The revolution has been won for the consumer…but ALSO for the brands.

Brands will now live and die by the way they treat customers. They will rise and fall based on their reputations and the extent to which existing customers are willing to proudly recommend them. They will be forced to get better and be better. The luxury of putting out a poor product is fading away. The maker will be exposed.

But most of all, brands can now pursue the benefits of truly knowing their customers, sincerely caring what they want & need, actually wanting to be in communication with them. Today’s mobile, multi-device, always on, socially connected customers are accustomed to not being ignored, put off, given the runaround, or abused. They are free.

The buyer revolution switched the game from transaction to experience. The experience IS the product. Brands no longer don’t reply. Brands no longer blindly send automated messages. Brands no longer make the customer wait weeks for a resolution. If something is wrong, brands are quick to make it right for the customer. Brands are keenly aware of every previous encounter that customer has had with them for context.

Of course none of that is true. Whether it’s from lack of leadership or lack of the proper tech tools, plenty of brands are still fumbling around, mired in how things used to be before the social media revolution. The customers, however, are not stuck. Their freedom is ringing loud and clear.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial


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