Branding is the consumer’s emotional response to a product. It’s how the consumer feels about a company. The important thing to note is that the consumer is in charge. This is a hard concept for organizations to grasp, and the question becomes why are consumers in charge? To best answer this question, we have to look at how we got here.
The evolution of marketing has proceeded through four stages:
In the beginning, farmers grew crops, and craftsmen built products. They then journeyed to the village to sell their wares. Manufacturers made goods and products and then figured out who would buy it. For centuries this model worked well. The manufacturers were in control, and consumers bought whatever was being sold.
As businesses matured, it was no longer good enough to simply build it and hope someone would come along to buy it. Increased competition then led to increased marketing efforts through both mass media and direct sales teams. Marketing soon became king, and the companies that sold products were more powerful than the companies that produced them.
With the modern age came a new stage: the message. Companies used research to develop products that they believed consumers wanted and needed. They then began crafting marketing messages to spur sales. The manufacturing and marketing stages still existed, but the companies with products focused on messages began to dominate. Consumers were in control and drove product development.
In this new era, times are changing yet again. With the manufacturer, market, and message models each still in existence, consumers are now taking their control to a whole new level. Consumers are researching every purchase, and they are driving the sales process.
Retailers have control over the manufacturers. Wal-Mart is now pulling products like Hefty from its shelves in favor of its store brand, Great Value.
Consumers are using their control to avoid the mass-media tactics of the market companies. They no longer have to watch TV ads or talk to salespeople who cold call to receive information about a product.
What's the solution? The best message in the world isn’t effective if it does not resonate and is not seen or heard by its intended consumer. What is a company to do in this modern age?
With the consumer in control and mass media becoming more expensive and less effective, it is imperative that your product or service is findable. This will determine your success in the coming years. How do you become more magnetic and attract your consumers?
Build your brand
You have to build an emotional connection with your consumers. Stop talking at them in your ads and start having conversations with them. Let the consumer in and make them a part of the process. Realize that the consumer owns the brand and don’t be scared of what they might do. Be authentic with them and let them love you.
Be where they are
Consumers are living online and in social media. You need to be there, too. Having a Facebook page you set up last year and haven’t revisited is pointless. Be active in the space. Don't just broadcast a message; engage in conversations, and develop content that resonates with your customer's lives.
Let Google know you exist
If you don’t have a Web site that is search engine optimized when consumers are searching for solutions, you will be hiding under the cloak of invisibility. When you are relevant and findable, you will be magnetic -- and successful.