To reach your customer, you need to BE your customer.

Today people talk less yet they communicate more than ever before thanks predominantly to smartphones, tablets and social networks. Organising a night out or game of football used to mean picking up the phone to talk with your friends. Fast forward to 2013 and nobody talks, texting, Facebook and tweeting are our preferred tools of communication. With people and technology evolving so quickly marketing dinosaurs must embrace this monumental shift in communication. It’s simple, do what your customers are doing – live your life online.

“I’m a non-conformist” was my initial reaction to joining Facebook, Twitter and online communities and why did I need a smartphone? I only need to talk and text, how I was so wrong. Every single day I now check my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and have started to live my life online. Every 20 minutes at Sunday’s Hearts Cup Final I was posting photos and game updates, perhaps trivial but living my life in the moment and sharing with others is how I now communicate.

Newspapers, TV, Radio and all other forms of traditional marketing still have their place in 21st Century marketing, but social media changes the rules of the game. Social media is just that – Social, not commercial media. The balance of power has truly shifted from commerce to the consumer, where social networking is a consumer-driven environment. Whilst advertising messages can still be highly effective on Social Media sites, companies must now learn how to genuinely engage with their customers. A difficult feat to achieve if you have millions of customers like Coca Cola and Microsoft, which represents another significant shift whereby smaller companies can adapt quicker and gain a competitive advantage over their giant rivals. Consumers may connect with brands and companies, but the rule of human biology is that people connect with people. The currency is no longer cash, it’s time and human connections. Small companies can now compete on a level playing field in terms of marketing where big spending competitors can lose customers to smaller companies who have more intimate and personalised engagement with their target audience. How special do you feel getting posted the same generic tweet or message as everyone else?

Be your customer, live your life as they do and customise your products and services to satisfy their needs. Social Media isn’t a platform to be hijacked by advertising and marketing, it must be respected as the customer’s world not just a marketing channel. Word of mouth has always been the greatest marketing tool in existence, but Social Media alters the dimensions of that concept. Word of mouth no longer passes solely between two parties, but can be passed on by multiple parties which expands the reach of traditional word of mouth. Peer to peer marketing is the key to understanding how word of mouth manifests on Social Networks. There’s no need to push marketing onto customers, if you’re engaged and connected then they’ll do it all for you.

By Jason King 22/03/2013

Keywords: Technology, People, Communication, Marketing, Social Media, Smartphones, Tablets, Peer to Peer Marketing,