Marketing in the Age of the Informed Consumer
Gone are the days where a consumer’s purchases were driven by catchy radio jingles and attention-grabbing TV ads. So long to times when what a customer knew about a product was controlled by what a salesman disclosed. Thanks to the internet, this model has been flipped on its head. Consumers are more informed and educated more than ever and it’s changed the way people browse and buy.
It wasn’t that long ago when a snake oil salesman could roll into town, give an entrancing sales pitch filled with false claims and promises, sell their “super elixirs,” and leave town before anyone could catch wind of the charade. Now, consumers are armed with a wealth of information, right at their fingertips. Often, the consumer is even more informed than the floor salesman. (In fact, salesmen are becoming more and more obsolete during the product information stage of the buying process.) It’s not uncommon for the average buyer to almost entirely done with the buying process before even coming in contact with a human sales rep. Dealing with a representative before buying a product has become a formality and, in many cases, no human interaction is needed.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can be doing to attract and win over potential buyers. Without salesmen to steer consumers toward your product, it’s important to be able to get your goods in front of potential buyers. Social media is a great way to reach consumers, as it allows companies to engage their audience in an environment they are familiar with and frequently visit. Another option is user-generated content. Getting users to advocate for your brand can be a powerful tool for reaching new buyers.
The most important thing that your business can do is to take control of your online reputation and make sure to offer a wealth of quality information that’s easily accessible. Have an informative, user-friendly website that guides customers through the benefits of your product or service. Create and claim your business listings to let people know how and where they can purchase them. Your top priority should be to make sure that potential buyers have accurate information and that any questions they have can be answered easily and efficiently (be sure to utilize social media for customer service!).
The final step to selling with the modern consumer is making the buying process as streamlined as possible. While not all buyers want an experience devoid of human contact, it’s important to put as few barriers between the consumer and the completion of a sale.
The internet has changed the way customers educate themselves about products and make purchases. In order to be successful, companies need to adapt to this change by getting in front of buyers to educate them on their own turf. More information might have meant the end of shoddy snake oil vendors, but for legitimate companies, it’s something to be utilized.