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Becoming Relevant to your Empowered Customer in the Age of Assistance

Google's Strategic Partnerships Manager, Meagan Tanner walks the talk. She's a woman in the forefront of the world of digital transformation, but it wasn't that long ago (in 2011) when she was selling advertising for Yellow Pages in the Cayman Islands and working as a digital sales leader for Canada's Postmedia. Today she was in Vancouver for the Board of Trade's Thrive Series delivering her keynote, "Marketing in the Age of Assistance". So what do we need to know about this term "assistance" in marketing? Plenty.

MOBILE is king.

In the game? You're not in the vicinity of the field if you're not activating your mobile readiness to your commerce model. It's frustrating when business (non-profit and government agencies are the major culprits here), insist they're working hard to engage and serve their audiences, yet customer service seizes up, donors dwindle and sales slip, opportunities fly by. The evidence is clear: they're missing the marketing boat and standing on the shore of the deserted island of forgotten advertisers. How easy are you making it for your customers to make that buy when it comes down to it? I'll point out that mobile traffic growth on Facebook alone, Zephoria's top 15 Facebook statistics confirms it's hard to ignore a number like 1.15 billion mobile daily active users (Facebook as of 2/01/17). It's down to timing - consumers can access the other guy instantly.

Oh, and save them TIME. Time is MONEY. Make it as easy as possible to step into that transaction - whatever it is. I can't believe how many charities aren't taking advantage of PayPal Giving Fund, for instance. PayPal lets you benefit and be listed in their app and their dedicated fundraising site. So if you believe your charity website is just getting too many hits in a day, I guess it would make sense not to use this tool. I mean, why would want to expose yourselves to an audience of millions of designated giving philanthropists anyway? Me being totally facetious of course, but I have run into this very resistance. Face-plant moments.

Would you agree that your customers (and donors) are tougher to please and harder to reach?

It's the perfect storm: Curiosity meets information, meets impatience. As Google articulates, "a brand's ability to leverage data to anticipate their needs will define its ability to grow." It's not even about bamboozling anyone either. Today, people are research junkies - from their vegan lip gloss to their shining new Volvo S60, to which charity to give to, to which Cloud software they'll choose in transforming their entire business model.

It would seem that curiosity, intel and impatience has collided. What suffers is loyalty. You can't count on it any more. Just because they've purchased from you, donated to you, worked with you in the past, over and over, doesn't mean they'll continue to hold you in that glowing regard. Just as Stuart Hogg articulated about the expected buying journey ,"In an ideal world, the journey people take to become loyal customers would be a straight shot down a highway: See your product. Buy your product. Use your product. Repeat." Not so fast Jack.

Meet Buyer 2.0

It doesn't matter what you're selling or promoting. Whether you're a software vendor, a charity promoting fundraising, or an online grocer specializing in organic food - how interact and align with "Buyer 2.0" is crucial. You have to get ahead of them because your consumer is more empowered, more knowledgable and more demanding than ever. Businesses, non-profits, governments must elevate to inform, engage AND assist.

Going beyond inform and engage.

For businesses and organizations of all kinds, the customer experience is . How do you make it better? When I think of small business, government and non-profit organizations, where the bottom line is so very tightly monitored and critiqued, I think we cannot afford to ignore the new landscape. It's kind of like trying to be an Olympic swimmer and training in an above-ground Walmart manufactured pool.

Keith Weed of Unilever describes the "5Cs of consumer engagement":

1-Consumer Journey: looking beyond technology and really dissect what assets bring a buyer along;

2-Connect: how we engage Buyer 2.0 starting with mobile - check out Google's micro-moments PLAYBOOK to better understand where they find what they find online;

3-Content: specific, purpose-based content can be the snippets of solution - like instead of "stain remover", it's "removing wine stains";

4-Community: when we can better understand or even predict what's happening within our own industries, we can get ahead of the curve with the creation of destination sites that deliver the necessary how-to videos, connecting the right influencers, guest blogs, white papers - you name it - just build out that tribal value;

5-Commerce: How are you attending to that crucial moment of the business transaction? How does it live up to your brand? Marketing must be elevated to the most strategic function in the organization. Seems obvious, but it's remarkable how the door shuts on the feet and cuts the noses off the marketing and hands it right over to the board and sales. Your brand health quickly deteriorates.

In this age of assistance in marketing, think about how you are going to be massively relevant and customer centric. Remember the top 3 trends in the Age of Assistance Marketing, listed by digital analyst Brian Solis:

#1 Everything can and will be researched

#2 Consumers have high expectations

#3 Consumers are impatient

Trend number 3 is this radical change that has marketers running for their lives. For more on the curious buyer, check out these insights.

If you're a small business or a nonprofit organization and you're ready for your rebranding approach to begin, Maven can help implement and guide you through these critical steps.

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