Is your brand focused on transactions or interactions?
Grammy-nominated artist David Gray’s “A moment changes everything” celebrates how a single moment between two people has the power to change everything about their relationship—a moment that takes their relationship to an elevated level. Listen here. As humans we understand that interactions alter how we perceive one another, significantly and quickly building or compromising a relationship.
That’s why the pursuit and reward of transactional excellence for brands is over. Transactional excellence is now simply tablestakes. Interactional excellence, where a personal experience and relationship is created and fostered, is imperative for success.
Today’s reality is that consumers today, people today, are thirsty for brands to provide something more than just a product or service. They want relationships, especially amid our technologically immersed lives, where human interactions seem to be decreasing and digital interactions are increasing. Look no further than smartphones that have provided accessibility to work and personal email and social networks 24/7/365. It has us all working at home and dealing with home at work. In fact, 97 percent of executives say they work during vacations, per gyro’s @Work State of Mind study conducted by Forbes Insights.
That’s why CMOs today must recognize four important and transformational shifts that can either accelerate their brands success or see it remain vulnerable:
1. Relationships have moved beyond product transactions to human interactions. Nike isn’t just selling shoes that perform well for runners. It has created communities around Nike+, an experience with the brand and other runners with shared interests and purpose.
2. Relationships between people and brands have moved beyond service transactions to personal interactions. American Express isn’t just handling questions and requests efficiently at its customer service centers. It has accelerated a customer’s value and loyalty by turning calls into personal conversations backed by data-rich knowledge and insight. No wonder the American Express tag line is “That’s what it feels like to be a Member.”
3. Relationships between people and brands have moved beyond marketing-led transactions to user-led demand. Marketers often no longer control when, where and how people experience the brand. Rather, it is pulled into people’s lives on their terms. Scotsman, a B-to-B ice-machine brand, isn’t just extolling the benefits of nugget ice to retailers and their distributors. It has given consumers a user-led digital place (LuvtheNug.com) where they can share their love for chewable ice and find places that serve nugget ice. Scotsman tapped into a humanly relevant idea and changed the game in B-to-B marketing.
4. Relationships between people and brands have moved beyond a structured research process to organic discovery. Google isn’t just serving up search results these days. It is a part of changing how consumers research and buy products. “ZMOT: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” is a must-read Google-published book that recognizes that people come to a brand through many online sources such as reviews, searches, ratings, peer recommendations and more. Relationships we have with one another are leading us to brands, not just how marketers lead brands to us.
In our digital-led world, brands must be humanly relevant. They must get up and into a person’s experience with them and relate to it, looking beyond the numbers and into the experience. Success is subtle and fragile today and so are relationships. Is your brand keeping up?
JP LaFors is director of client service at gyro Denver.