Build Utility

To be relevant, marketers have to do more in the digital space than tweet and grow fans

June 2010 By Jeff Molander

Successful marketing is becoming less about catering to (or creating) desire, positive sentiment or aspiration among customers. In this new world economy, engagement and buzz aren’t enough. Facebook fans or Twitter followers aren’t enough. Buzzing or creating awareness that marketers think will generate incremental sales isn’t enough to please the C- 
suite executives.

Success today is more about discovering latent, hidden demand among customers and capturing it, using digital tools such as 
social media.

That sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But the real—mostly untold—success stories simply don’t arise out of experimentation with Twitter and Facebook. Instead, I see success stories being built from the ground up, with usefulness and value-creation in mind. They’re marketing-oriented, strategic investments aimed at creating loyalty by improving customer experience, not tactical expenses.

As a marketer, are you tired of the never-ending social media ROI debate and trying to figure out how your campaigns can start realizing tangible, meaningful returns through the use of social media and mobile marketing? I’ll show you how to make emerging digital media reliably produce leads, sales and increased customer value that creates buying behavior. For starters, here’s how in simply two words: Build utility.

The Secret Sauce: 
The secret sauce is being endlessly useful and relevant to your customers. This means providing them with relevant tools—utilities. Applications? Sure, but don’t get caught up in the hype. Think in strategic terms and focus on the essentials; what customers need as a part of everyday life. It’s easy to fall into the trap 
of novelty.

For example, how many consumers love iPhone mobile and social applications? Many. But how many of those apps are truly needed by users and used as part of everyday life? The techno-
wizardry is oh-so-sexy with social and mobile apps, and the technology ends up with the attention nearly all of the time. But this attention is actually a distraction; it’s a hurdle that business decision-makers have to clear in order to remain relevant.

A Value Exchange
What can all marketers learn from Adagio Teas? As it turns out, a lot. This is a great example of social media success using the concept of utility. Adagio’s fully customized tea timer desktop widget helps tea connoisseurs brew a perfect cup each time by delivering a “proper steep time” for almost any kind of tea. Adagio gives tea drinkers a useful tool; in return, it gets access to the customer’s intimate needs-focused information—such as whether she’s tried Adagio’s teas, what her favorite teas are, her name and e-mail address—which the customer provides before downloading the application.

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