What’s next? It’s a question I hear from clients, prospective clients and colleagues in the industry a lot. And, it’s a question I ask myself often. While I don’t have any easy answers (and don’t kid yourself, no one does), I do know that if you live by a few simple principles, no matter what trend, tool or technology comes next, you will have a good chance to succeed. By keeping the following words and concepts in mind, you’ll be able to navigate whatever twists and turns lie ahead for you and your brand.
Trust. Brands that earn trust, earn customers. And earn profits. It’s as simple as that. What are you doing today to earn your customer’s trust? Are you helping them? Solving problems? Serving as a source of content? Making it easier to do business with you? Lots of ways to earn trust. Pick one and do it well.
Humility. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Yes you take your business seriously, but don’t go overboard. People want brands and people they can relate to. How many people do you know that take every facet of their life incredibly seriously? Reflect your customers behaviors. Show some humility once in a while.
Humor. Underrated as far as a brand attribute. Take AbbeyMoor Medical, for example. They make stents for men with prostate issues. Pretty serious health issue, right? Well, in order to kick-start awareness, they injected humor into the brand using video. The results? The phone started ringing. Who would have thunk? The lesson: Even the most conservative industries can use humor to their advantage.
Relevance. Not much more to say here. If your content’s not relevant, it gets breezed right over. Don’t take this one lightly. Evaluate your content strategy carefully. Make sure it’s hitting home with your customers.
Niche. The more the social world evolves, the more niche it will become. Just look at Ning. There are now 1.5 million Ning communities. Those are ultra-niche communities of like-minded people. We’re going to see a lot more of that before long. Think about the niches you serve. Then, think about the niches within those niches. And target the hell out of your messages and content. Call it micro-targeting.
Fail. A key to success that many often forget: failing. Look at any successful entrepeneur. If you peek into their background, you’ll usually find several failures before they found success. That’s no coincidence. Failing is a critical piece to success. Don’t forget that. Especially as the ground continues to move right under our PR and marketing feet.
Human. The human brands will rule in tomorrow’s world. Heck, they already are. Ford is “humanizing” its brand. Organizations like Mayo Clinic and H&R Block are connecting with people in a whole new way. Even manufacturers like Blendtec (and oldie, but goody) are finding a way to relate to their customers differently by putting a more human face on their product.
Solve. At its core, most business is about solving a problem for a customer. Airlines like Southwest make it easier, faster and more affordabe to get from here to there. Google makes it possible for me to communicate, collaborate and navigate. And Mayo Clinic helps me feel better. Solve your customers problems and the awareness, goodwill and profits will follow.
Filter. Earlier this year there were 1.5 billion tweets filling cyberspace. Today? That number has skyrocketed to more than 5 billion. That’s just one example of how the proliferation of content has, and will, continue to overrun our lives. So, the filtering process will continue to become even more important. Not just for individuals–but for brands. The companies that understand how to organize and prioritize their content will win the trust, loyalty and admiration of customers.
Anything I missed? Other rules to live by as “what’s next” comes down the pike?