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Marketing by Exceeding Customer Expectations

When I look at my twitterfeed or my newsfeed on Facebook, I see quite a few conversations about advertising, how certain brands are doing a good job of getting their marketing messages across, or how they are responding to competitors and so on. All this is contributed primarily by my B-school friends. When I look at the conversations (about brands) that my non B-school friends are initiating, not one of them is about the message or even about an advertisement. But they do talk about brands that are engaging them in ways that exceeds their expectations. In short, they're talking about reality.

Exceeding consumer expectations is the new advertising.

With digital marketing spend steadily rising for most brands, it is important to understand what really happens in digital (of which social is a big part). The conversion rate (percentage of people that look at an ad and then go on to buy the product/service) for digital advertising is quite low. Read this to get a broad idea of the numbers. This will continue to be the case (irrespective of the number of 'likes' a brand gets) if brands continue to advertise the way they do now.

Here is where exceeding expectations comes in. If you delight your customers, they will spread the word. Undoubtedly. Because the default expectation of a customer from any brand is to be ripped off (pay more than the value derived). The brands that change this and begin to delight the customers will be the ones that will get attention on social media. The more customers they delight, the more good press they generate.

Delighting customers can happen in the smallest of ways. The bar is so low at the moment that even the slightest positive action where the brand puts the customer first will delight the customer. For example, Amazon and iTunes pop up a confirmation message asking you if you're sure to go ahead, when you try to buy a book/song that you've already bought. They might be foregoing some extra revenue in the short term by preventing a sale that is unnecessary for the customer. But, they will attract that customer whenever she wishes to buy a new book/song. Similarly, wouldn't it be wonderful if your telecom service provider (who has data about your usage in minutes, data, SMS) offers you the option to switch to a plan that is better suited (less expensive) to your usage pattern as compared to your currrent plan?

Big data makes it that much easier for nearly every brand to delight its customers. The future of digital marketing lies more in delighting customers (which raises engagement levels) and less in advertisements and gathering 'likes'.

What do you think?

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