You’ve heard of mobile-first organizations, those that launch first on mobile devices prior to web. That can be a good idea for some, but being a consumer-first organization is a universal necessity.
Gone are the days of relying on clever messaging aimed at grabbing the attention of distracted consumers. Awareness is easy, right? You can even buy awareness in digital and convince your boss that it’s edgy just because it’s digital. But being a sales-first organization that prioritizes short-term bumps in numbers should not be your goal. Building an army of dedicated, loyal followers should. Today, consumer-first brands are winning consumer loyalty and, as a result, their money.
The music industry is a great example. For decades, the music industry succeeded by making consumers pay for records, tapes, or CDs of pre-packaged music. But as soon as the tools were invented that allowed them to collect just the songs they wanted, the music industry suffered. The blame was placed on cheap consumers who just wanted everything for free. But we’ve learned that that isn’t true. Consumers, and music fans especially, WANT to pay for the things they love. In fact, artists have given away their music, allowing fans to make donations and received millions of dollars.
Amanda Palmer was a street performer turned professional musician who grew a large following and eventually received a record deal. After selling 25,000 copies of her debut album, her label considered it a failure and they parted ways. Determined to prove them wrong, she started giving away her music to her fans with the simple request that they help her out financially. She received almost $1.2 million from an ironic 25,000 donations.
I think there is a story here bigger than the music industry, which, as we all know, has seen the light (if you will) and is again experiencing growth. We’re seeing a dramatic shift in consumers’ expectations that is literally decimating entire industries. In marketing we like to talk about how social media is changing everything. It isn’t. It is simply enabling consumers to be as social as they’ve always been but now with the tools to ask for more personalized service. And that should frighten any company that is ignoring not just social, but more broadly, campaigns that genuinely connect with consumers.
Let me be clear, if your model is dependent on pulling in consumers rather than providing easy ways for them to get your product naturally, you will ultimately fail. Companies that do it right, the ones that connect with consumers and build the tools that make it easy for them to pay for the things they want, will survive. That is the difference between making consumers pay for your product and letting them.
Don’t be that brand. Don’t use social as a channel for more awareness and push messaging. Build loyalty. And then build or leverage tools to help those consumers pay you.