One of the most important changes in today’s market economy is a strong decrease in brand loyalty, concludes entrepreneur and innovation expert Danny Mekić, who is a speaker at the Nyenrode Masterclass Business Development. “Brand loyalty used to be an excuse to avoid having to look for the best offer at the lowest price time and time again. It was too time-consuming. But nowadays we have complete price transparency, and comparing the features of different products and services has become a lot easier. In the past, consumers would need to physically go to the store to look at the products, but with today’s technological advances, there’s no more need to even leave the house. It’s mainly the established companies that don’t always know how to deal with this, and so their customers stay away.” Below are Danny Mekić’s five tips for holding on to your customers’ attention.
- Be very aware of your added value.
“Are we really still relevant?” That question is being asked as a kind of stress response in the board rooms of many market leaders. Which isn’t hard to explain: in a time of economic expansion, companies look at their most successful competitors to see what they’re doing that’s better, and then they copy it. That’s why during the time of economic growth, many parties on the same market have ended up resembling each other very much. But in times of economic crisis, revenue streams collapse, and then the question is whether your organisation is robust enough to continue to deliver the same quality. On top of that, it makes consumers hold on to their money more again. In that situation, organisations need to know very clearly what added value they provide, and they need to be able to convey that better than their competitors do — or else they need to be cheaper.
- Find the fastest route from need to solution.
The discussion on the market is mainly focused on online versus offline services. But what this conversation should be about is being ‘fastline’: finding the quickest way to what the costumer needs. Whether it’s about having a certain product delivered as soon as possible, opening a bank account or needing some service or other, delivery speed has become decisively important. It’s no longer the market leaders who determine how the market works; the consumer has been the one pushing for frictionless service — and now that’s become the norm. Look at the taxi service Uber for example, which turned the status quo on its head by removing all barriers in the taxi industry, and now has a market value of $ 70 billion. No taxi company in the Netherlands has succeeded yet at offering the same amount of convenience and comfort.
- Provide relevant services.
Frictionless service relies on a combination of technology and physical, brick-and-mortar shops and offices. The brick-and-mortar shopping landscape of the past decade has seen some successful newcomers, like Apple — the Apple stores are packed every weekend because they organise exciting events every time. When you walk in, there’s no front desk blocking your way; you’re immediately surrounded by products you can try out. There is a lot of staff going around, who are easy to approach and will also ask you themselves if you need help with anything or if they can explain anything to you. Compare that to Dutch stores like V&D, or even de Bijenkorf; those don’t have as much staff walking about and they also don’t regularly host all sorts of demonstrations. Apple’s approach is rewarded with physical visitors, because there they’ll find something that’s really relevant to them. Relevant and fun! Shopping should be a fun experience. How many stores these days are really fun to visit?
Successful organisations like CoolBlue are using similar approaches to explore their intersections with society, for example by uploading hundreds of product videos every month. Those videos are made by CoolBlue employees who unwrap the products, discuss them and demonstrate how they work. Individually those videos might only get a few hundred views, but taken together they give CoolBlue an enormous range and impact when it comes to the brand, the customer experience and the relevance CoolBlue provides. There’s always someone to whom a video like that is very relevant.
- Get everyone in your value chain involved.
There will be even more cooperation within value chains in the future. More and more companies are involving their suppliers in their organisational processes. The Dutch retail chain HEMA for example used their own funds to help a supplier streamline their production process, allowing them to produce faster. That’s a great example of unconventional thinking. If you’re in the market with a certain vision, point of view or philosophy, it’s important to get the entire value chain on board with that. You could organise a suppliers’ day, for example, to involve them in your strategy. People always like to join the table and participate. So don’t just focus on the consumers — think about taking inventory of and sharing relevant information with the other parties in the value chains you’re a part of, too.
- Anticipate change.
It’s a very human tendency to be intimidated by big changes. But that fear is a remnant from the time of our distant ancestors, who risked their lives looking for food in the wilderness. Nowadays, it’s generally a bad adviser. So it’s important to keep the fear at bay by anticipating changes and adapting your strategies to them. Entrepreneurs running traditional shops on the street in particular need to make sure they stay relevant. They need to have the guts to say: “This isn’t working any more, let’s start over and build something new in the best possible way, using the latest knowledge and technologies.” But frankly, that last thing is important for every existing company: what would your organisation be like if you had to start all over tomorrow?