“The shift in business right now means that this is about what your customers want from you,” Jon Wuebben tells me. He is the author of Content is Currency, and the founder and CEO of the company Content Launch. If you are an entrepreneur and want to succeed with your business, it is important to be aware of the shift in consumer expectations. Otherwise, you might find yourself struggling to get your business off the ground.
Not Just About Advertising
In the past, many businesses saw marketing mainly as one-way advertising. You advertise to customers, customers buy your products. However, thanks to evolving technology, and thanks to the social web, customers expect more from the companies they do business with.
“Customers want a relationship with you,” Wuebben continues. “It’s not just about advertising. Customers want tips, how-tos and more interaction. You need to help customers understand the value of your company through content.”
Wuebben points out that this shift in the relationship small businesses have with their customers is hard for some to grasp. “The B2B community has been looking at content marketing and social media in the wrong light. They are looking at it from a profit standpoint, and trying to put short-term money amounts on the return on investment.”
Unfortunately, this is not what the social web is about. The small business that understands this is more likely to succeed in the long run. “It’s really a long-term thing,” Wuebben insists. “Companies need to understand that it’s a commitment of time. Offer what the target customer wants to see in terms of advice, best practices, videos. If you approach customers as a partner committed to make their lives better, you will have a relationship. An authentic relationships means that in six weeks, or a year, or whenever, the customer will turn to you.”
The Internet, Wuebben says, is giving power to consumers in a way never seen before. “If you’re only focused on sell, sell, sell, customers will turn away. They want to see companies coming from a genuine place.”
2012: Year of Mobile Content
In order to keep up with what customers want, it’s important to embrace the shift toward mobile. “2012 is seen by everyone as the mobile year,” Wuebben explains. “People are using smart phones to check social media, as well as search online, and shop online. If your business wants a share, you need to be into mobile.”
Wuebben says a first step is to make sure your business web site is mobile-friendly. “This is key,” he says. “By 2014 more people will be searching on the Internet via mobile than any other way. Check to see if your site is mobile-friendly.”
If you don’t have a mobile-friendly web site, Wuebben recommends that you develop one quickly. “Whether you pay up front, one time, or pay monthly, you need to be going mobile. People use their phones to find local businesses, and search for specials and promotions. If you are local, it’s even more important to embrace the mobile concept.”
Wuebben suggests that it’s possible to make your web site mobile friendly with the help of the WordPress Touch plugin. If you don’t have WordPress (and even if you do), you can use sites like Mobify and MoFuse to create mobile-friendly sites.
Customers are more interested in building relationships than in being sold to. “We’re all inundated with too much information and too many ads,” Wuebben points out. “If you can provide useful content that positions you as a company that cares, and that can help make a customer’s life better, you are more likely to succeed.”
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.