Are your customers falling in love with your competitor's brands?

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Would you even know? Old models lock us into habits that may have worked in the 1990s, or even a few years ago, but not anymore. 

Many of us are still in love with the 4Ps, a strong model developed in 1960 that revolves around company-driven decisions on price, product, place and promotion.  After 50 years, it's time for a new model to complement the 4Ps.  At the Internet Retailers Conference in early June, I spoke about the 4As, a 100% customer-driven model that is centered on awareness, assessment, action and ambassador phases.

This model is all about how our customers make decisions, how they learn, how they act after the transaction and why they decide to become or not become passionate voices for our brands. 

Customers don't care about your company as much as they do their online friends. They want to do one of three things online to help their peers. Share ideas, share product knowledge and help peers with problems. If you do even one of these well, you will connect. 

Less than 50 people drive share of conversation for your brand. Similar to mainstream media, very few people make a real difference. The rest of us share and follow. Do you know who they are?

Your website is really just a place to store your favorite content.  It's time you take each piece of that content and share it via a new content syndication network, so you reach 20 to 40x more people via social media.

Your search strategy is in need of work. If you don't believe me, stop reading this column right now and write down the five questions being asked by your customers today about your brand. Know them? 

Do you know the exact words your customers use when they are in decision-making mode? What if you could scrape those conversations in real-time, bring them back to a folder and decide who to outreach to? 

I'll end with discussion of a “dinosaur model” that we call customer service. A customer support approach where we wait for people to call us or visit our site is archaic. Even the best companies will have less than 10% of their customers call them in a given year, which means that more than 90% of your customers are figuring out their issues without you, right or wrong every year. 

Your customers are making decisions every day about your brand. The question is: Do you know if they are falling in love with your brand or your competitor's and how you could be more involved? 

Bob Pearson is chief technology and media officer at WCG, an integrated communications firm.

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