A new global study from A.T. Kearney titled The Consumers of the Future: Influence vs. Affluence does a good job of taking the new trends of marketing, filtering in their gained insights and producing real steps that companies—or in our case publishers—can take to adapt to the new business realities. Yes, it's B2C, but the fundamentals here are very similar to B2B.
Let's look at their seven steps to success and SIPAfy it for our purposes.
Step 1: Invest big in customer intimacy. "It's not enough to simply build an app or post on social media; creating a genuine, deep community that offers consumers relevant services and content must be the goal." Stephanie Eidelman, CEO of InsideARM, has spoken about the success she's having with their Compliance Professionals Forum, a membership organization. HCPro's Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS) just finished another CDI Week and runs ACDIS Radio for its audience. These are two vibrant communities.
Step 2: Adapt consumer segmentation models as complex cohorts emerge. "Companies must understand changes in consumer behavior at an individual level, then use advanced techniques to get at common needs and desires across emerging sub-groups. In a sense, it's marketing to the level of one—because data provides the tools to accomplish this goal." Yesterday, I wrote a post about a DecisionHealth website that includes a tool that lets a company put in its number of employees and their output, and then the tool calculates what that company should be producing.
Step 3: Deliver customized solutions in pockets of scale. "Consumers expect ever-increasing levels of personalization, from workout playlists that adjust tempo based on physical exertion to devices that measure emotional responses to certain people." At Melcrum, Kelly Parsons and Victoria Mellor went, in the words of Parsons, "from having thousands of subscribers at $500 each to having a few hundred members at $30,000 or $50,000 each. By the end of my time at Melcrum, we weren't even using the word member—we were partners with our customers in the truest sense of the word." (The two will deliver a keynote talk together at BIMS next month titled How Melcrum Transformed Its Business Model Through Customer Value Creation.)
Step 4: Adjust marketing budgets to reflect social media realities. "A hyper-connected world makes many traditional marketing activities irrelevant—so budgets, as well as mindsets, must adjust. Dashboards should incorporate new ways to measure marketing efficiency..." Amanda MacArthur, co-founder and content director of Lantern Content Marketing Adventure Company, uses a "12x12x12" strategy. "For each new post, our team will write 12 unique social posts in 140 characters or less... On Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, we schedule on the first day, six months later, and sometimes again 12 months later."
Step 5: Engage micro-influencers to build communities. "Micro-influencers can be especially valuable ambassadors who can co-create authentic passion for a brand. So brands should systematize their use of influencers..." The study asserts that tomorrow's influencers will be more segmented, a trend that should benefit niche publishers. In their study, more than 50% of people 35 and under are influenced in their purchases by bloggers and vloggers (video bloggers).
Step 6: Build trust with sharper value propositions. "Transparency builds trust, and... trust can create opportunities for more favorable pricing—up to 8% extra for good corporate behavior." The study shows that people will pay more for environmentally friendly/socially minded brands. This has not come up as much yet with niche publishers, but it might be good to anticipate this sea change. Affiliating with a cause through a walk or run. Taking a socially minded stand on something related to your niche. Partnering with an environmentally friendly brand on something. Trust will come easier with these types of actions.
Step 7: Bridge the business model gap. "Organizations must develop agility and speed to constantly challenge today's models and re-invent the company every day... Consider how Blockbuster failed to adjust its revenue models... Or how Amazon, even at age 20, lives under the mantra that every day is Day 1." Another report this week asked publishers, "What is the single most important risk to a news organization's future success?" The most common answer was a "reluctance to innovate."
Read the report here.