We are now flooded with digital technologies and consumers have learned how to adapt and be part of it. We use smart phones and other technologies to link ourselves to a steady stream of communication which is altering our relationship to each other and to all kinds of organizations. For businesses to continue to succeed, they have to see consumers now as customer networks and not just inaccessible people. Businesses need to zero-in to customers’ network behavior to understand it.
With over a billion Internet users and two decades of World Wide Web, we can recognize clearly the five behaviors of networked customers. There are: connecting, accessing, customizing, collaborating, and engaging. Once businesses understand and make use of these behaviors, they can follow the five strategies that will help them create business models, products and services with great values and succeed in a networked future.
Here are the five strategies:
Strategy 1: Connect. – Consumers are share ideas and opinions all the time through social media where one can pick an insight or two for brand acuity. Popular forums like Facebook or Twitter can help businesses can join to reach their consumers. Businesses can create their own as well, where they will also be able to get consumers to exclusively join to share their ideas, vote and express their opinions. One example is the online community The Ford Fiesta Movement. Here, car enthusiasts and fans get to sign up to try out a new car, and at the same time it created huge brand awareness even before it was even launched.
Strategy 2: Access. – Offer mobile location and on demand experiences. Customers want to be connected all the time to access digital data, content or even just to interact. Customers not only want to access, they want it fast, easy and they want it now. When a business offers something with everything in it (fast and easy) they create authentic value for their customers. Nike+ is a good example for this. They linked a runner’s shoes with their computers. In this way they only not keep track of the data but also share it in web through the largest running community.
Strategy 3: Customize. – Networked customers are not into conformity or anything they can blend it. They want to stand out especially in the digital world. Equipping them with tools that can customize services, contents, and products that would suit them, businesses creates value for consumers and makes them incomparable with their competition. Two Charities have prospered by using this strategy and these are DonorsChoose and Kiva. Donors are able to select people and projects they want to fund in their own specification.
Strategy 4: Collaborating. – Creating a platform where networked customers can interact and join in to build the business. This would allow huge room for motivation, imagination and creativity to pour into the business from the consumers. Iphone and Ipad wasn’t built by one creator, it was built by over 50,000 amateur and professional developers from round the world.
Strategy 5: Engage. – The web is flooding with so much data and information that consumers barely take in what they see. To stay on top of the game, create something that consumers will actually want to read and consume. Businesses should focus on how they can broaden their impact to consumers or when to narrow it down. A business can earn by creating informative content, answers query and even contents that can entertain. Like IBM’s Innov8, a videogame to help sell their software and became their best marketing tool.
These five strategies will be of use to any business, whether you sell bags, shoes, or software. One has to think innovatively and creatively to reach what we call the networked customers.
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