Traditionally marketing, advertising and branding were separated from the actual product and also from the company identity. Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) businesses are a great as an example of this… and the FMCG industry is one of the last bastions of traditional marketing.
For many FMCG goods there is essentially no difference between competing products. Take for example air-freshener. Whilst the pictures on the packaging and the scentmight be different, the product is fundamentally within a product range from a particular company (e.g. Glade by SC Johnson) as well as across companies.
In most FMCG organisations, marketers are employed to create a difference. They do this through association and repetition; designed to help you connect with a particular product. And let’s face it, for something as unexciting as air-freshener marketers have got their work cut out for them, trying to connect me to their newest fragrance.
The problem is that this sort of marketing has become commonplace. Many consumer marketers think that this is marketing and branding in general, rather than the product-specific type of marketing it really is.
Today marketing is about all the experiences a customer (or potential customer) has with a product and brand. This means that marketing is the responsibility of everyone in the business.
With the increase of the internet and social networking consumers have more opportunities to engage with a product and they are better able to see past many of the traditional marketing tricks.
“At the end of the day, customers no longer separate marketing from the product-it is the product. They don’t separate marketing from their in-store or online experience-it is the experience. In the era of engagement, marketing is the company,” write Tom French, Laura LaBerge, and Paul Magill in a July 2011 McKinsey Quarterly article.
Recently we’ve interviewed over 40 Australian businesses about what makes a great customer experience it’s clear that Aussies are looking for companies to stop trying to “sell” and “market”. Instead, businesses and brand that make the purchase easier those who would benefit from their product or services; and get the basics right (like returning emails or delivering on the date that they say they will), will win the hearts and wallets of their customers.
There’s an ever growing number of businesses and individuals who know what they want to buy, or at least have a very good idea. After asking their peers and network for recommendations on brands to consider the vast majority of people turn to Google to find out more information.
This means that many customers judge a brand first and foremost based on its service and messages – not the physical product or advertising materials. Key to creating a great first impression is the self service simplicity of a company or brand’s website. How easy is it to use? Does it give real answers to specific questions?
As we mentioned last week… at Google they know that putting the customer first is the key to success. This means that customer service is now at the heart of marketing.