In some aspects of popular culture, the current generation of British adults is portrayed as a lost and unambitious demographic. With popular television shows like Benefits Street portraying welfare claimants in an incredibly negative light and the media constantly discussing the so-called barriers that exist in the housing and property markets, you could be forgiven for thinking that Millennials and older adults are part of a lost generation.
This is at odds with the bare statistics, however, which hint at an increasingly engaged, adaptable and knowledgeable generation of adults. The number of adults aged under 35 starting new business ventures has risen by more than 70% since 2006, for example, while an estimated 30 million votes were cast in the recent general election. This was the highest turnout at an election since Labour’s landslide win in 1997, and together these statistics suggest that Britain is home to a determined and motivated breed of adults in the modern age.
It is crucial that you understand this as a business owner, as this demographic will contribute heavily to your consumer base. By failing to understand the abilities and needs of your customers and the evolution that consumers have experienced since the turn of the century, you may find that your venture quickly becomes outdated. With this in mind, here is an insight into how consumers have evolved in recent times and advice on how to effectively sell your brand to modern demographics:
1. Empower Customers as Advocates for Your Brand
Prior to the age of social media, traditional television and billboard advertising was considered as the optimal method for reaching targeted audiences. While these methods can still prove to be effective when used on a selective basis, however, there is evidence to suggest that traditional media lacks the impact of ten years ago.
According to leading Internet consultancy group Forrester Research, consumers in 2005 were 50% more likely to be influenced by a verbal recommendation from a peer than traditional advertising methods. This is because customers have been forced to become increasingly wary when processing the swathes of information online, creating a slightly cynical outlook and a desire to source information from trusted resources. This has coincided with the rise of social media, which has afforded customers a voice and made it easy to access trusted reviews and product references from peers.
As an entrepreneur, you need to understand and embrace this, and empower customers as proactive advocates for your brand. This can be achieved by partnering with ground-breaking companies like Trustpilot, which provides a medium through which a community of consumers can share objective reviews of private companies. This firm has previously raised $73.5 million in funding to become the dominant player in the market, and by reaching your customers through the site, you can invite them to leave reviews and positive recommendations to their peers.
2. Blog to Become a Trusted Thought Leader
While the ability of brands to effectively communicate with customers has always been crucial, it is only recently that entrepreneurs have considered this as a leading business priority. This first began with the drive to create more consistent and identifiable consumer messaging, with 75% of business-owners surveyed in 2013 confirming that they intended to channel this through a well-managed and centralised process.
This is not enough in the modern age, however, with modern-day customers demanding informative and insightful communication from their most trusted brands. This can take many forms, with two of the most popular channels for this type of communication being branded blog sites and social media. By publishing relevant, timely and informative content that adds value to the customer experience, it is possible to emerge as an industry thought leader and establish an entry point into a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
From a practical perspective, you should ensure that your brand has a clearly defined tone of voice to underpin all consumer-facing communications. This can serve as a set of guidelines when crafting short and long-form content, so that can maintain a consistent message while also optimising copy across alternative platforms. You should also make sure that your brand is alert and proactive when communicating through real-time social media channels such as Twitter, as this enables employees to resolve queries and deliver requested information quickly.
On a final note, make sure that all blog content is relevant to your niche, topical and capable of adding value. You can even source inspiration from previous consumer comments and feedback, as this is an excellent way to engage a motivated audience.
3. Use Customer Service as a Marketing Platform
Historically, customer service has always been perceived as a costly but ultimately necessary aspect of business management. More of a damage limitation exercise than a scalable method of growth, customer service departments around the world have survived on minimal budgets and a palpable lack of enthusiasm.
This has changed in recent times, however, in line with evolving perspectives and the growing influence of consumers as brand advocates. We have already discussed how the advent of social media and independent review sites has afforded customers a distinct voice, as brands have been forced to improve the quality and efficiency of their customer service output as a result.
Beyond this, business expert Seth Godin and brands such as Zappo have also explored the benefits of embracing customer service as a proactive marketing method. More specifically, they have recognised that customer service representatives have a unique opportunity to communicate with customers when they are at their most engaged with the brand. Such emotive conversations can ultimately create unique marketing opportunities that provide ‘a scalable way to delight’, potentially reducing the cost of converting leads into sales and turning customer service into a profit centre.
Simply by reevaluating your perception of customer service and creating a culture where this is aligned with your digital and social marketing efforts, you can reach out to consumers and market your brand to a more motivated audience.
Understanding the customer evolution is crucial in the modern age, as this enables more efficient communication and higher sales conversions rates over time. If you have any further advice for our budding entrepreneurs, please feel free to share this using the comments box below.