The 5 steps to win today’s (and tomorrow’s) demanding consumer

A new year, a new decade, new opportunities. As the speed of change is increasing and consumers are becoming increasingly ‘awake’, companies need to wake up, too, and continuously adapt their business and marketing approach. What exactly is needed to deal with massive changes in technology, sustainability, diversity, health? Just to name a few of the bigger themes that are changing the world faster than ever before.

Consumer behaviour: the biggest force of change

While we tend to mainly focus on above mentioned areas of change, we run the risk of overseeing the one force that’s behind most of them and probably has the biggest impact on companies today and tomorrow: consumer behaviour. Throughout the world, consumers are awakening quickly and are taking drastically more conscious AND bold decisions. This development is much stronger compared to, say, five years ago and will accelerate even more in the coming years. There is a lot being written about consumers’ need for purpose. If companies fail to fulfill that need, they will fail to turn consumers into customers or lose them if they currently are. Consumers are quickly becoming extremely bold in their loyalty decisions. Patience is out of fashion. They take nothing for granted and decide quickly and in bigger numbers, as today’s consumer is well-connected.

“…we run the risk of overseeing the one force that probably has the biggest impact…: consumer behaviour”

Five-step approach

So, what to do? There are five steps for an effective business and marketing approach that can be divided into three phases: Awareness, Action, Adaptation (our Triple A model). Without going into all the details in this piece, we will quickly touch upon each of the five steps.

Awareness:

  1. Purpose (Why)
  2. Leadership/Culture (Who)

Action:

3. Identity & Positioning (How)

4. Strategy & Tactics (How)

Adaptation:

5. Learnings & Growth (What & When)

Instead of Simon Sinek’s brilliant Why-How-What model, we believe in the extended Why-Who-How-What-When approach.

The first thing a company needs to ask itself, is what its purpose is. What added value do you bring to the world? Why is the world better of with you? This Why question is part of the Awareness phase.

Thought Leadership and culture

The second part of this Awareness phase is Leadership & Culture, step two. This is about the Who. More than ever, a company’s leadership and culture are key to its reputation and success. It should be dealt with early in the process: organize before you communicate. How authentic and purpose-driven is your leadership and are they able to deliver a strong story that is reliable and relevant to your stakeholders? Are they thought leaders? Is it the right leadership to do this? And also, do you have the right business and marketing culture to walk this talk? To consistently execute on the leadership’s vision? Do you have the people (in business and marketing) who dare to try and fail and therefore learn?

Step three of the five-step approach is (Brand) Identity and Positioning, the How. Here starts the Action phase of your business and marketing process. How are you going to position your company in the ecosystem you’re active in? What (potential) customer/client insights do you need? What does your brand look like?

Trial and timing are everything

Second part of the Action phase and step four is your (Marketing) Strategy & Tactics. This part also defines the How, just as the previous step. How are you going to engage with your stakeholders? How will you be winning hearts and minds? What mix of media and channels do you use to reach out to your ecosystem? This is really about the development and implementation of your (business and) marketing strategy.

The last of the five steps is Learnings & Growth. This is the Adaptation phase. Here it’s about the What & When and about continuously adapting and learning (from) your marketing efforts. It’s a crucial extension of the implementation step, because today’s consumer demands companies to continuously adapt. Today, not just timing is everything, but trial and timing are. And the technological tools are there to help you.

Measure, adapt, learn and grow the effects and efficiency of your business and marketing efforts. That’s all that counts. Think well before you act, but don’t think too long: try and amend based on the continuous feedback you (have to) ask and receive from the market. Consumers nowadays are used to that and expect you to. Companies and brands adapt, just like natural ecosystems. As long as your purpose stays the same.

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