To stand a chance of adapting to meet future client challenges, firms have to take a break with the past. Either through design, apathy or happenstance, most organisations look at the world from the inside out. Prospects are likely to read something if they are recommended to do so by someone within their network.
Cohort marketing is relatively straight forward. Just creating and distributing useful and relevant information/content. Be aware that:
- Access to information online means that clients and users can be less loyal
- Clients are more likely to trust information recommended within their network
- Users decide where and when they access their information
- Google will be a major factor in deciding the reach and therefore the success of the activity
- Our marketing needs to sweat every asset produced to ensure that the maximum value can be extracted
- Publish information individually, in multiple formats, via multiple channels to the widest possible audience. Video; audio, personal blogs, social networks, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn etc.
- Activity needs to form part of the ongoing culture within the firm
The basic challenge here is simple enough – in an information rich environment, how do we best reach our clients? This brings us back to the central importance of networks.
This means not just populating our own online properties but using third party channels. Why start a blog to discuss a business challenge when a LinkedIn group is already doing just this – where anyone can go and join the conversation? You have to be where your clients are, if you want to talk to them.
It is still necessary to create original ideas and communicate them, but on an opt-in basis, not an ascribed one. Firms should build networks around ideas, themes and issues, not assumed communities of interest. It is important to be opinionated and succinct, and it is important that our content is available to be consumed by our clients where and when they want it.
Research by Technorati indicates that your employees can reach an audience that is up to 10 times larger than the one your brand is currently reaching and acceptance of a recommendation is on average around 70% higher through personal recommendation as opposed to unsolicited communication.
All brands are affected by this client discussion on social media and employees can play a crucial role in bringing a real face to that discussion, not least because we all now trust individual recommendations more than those that come from a brand itself.
If firms encourage employees to become engaged with their cohort groups, they can build a team of positive and effective brand advocates. Then, not only are engaged employees twice as productive, but they can be responsible for up to 80% of your clients’ overall brand satisfaction.
Enabling employees to become a channel to market will also help them create their own cohort groups on both the organization’s and their own behalf. This in itself will greatly increase the impact of any given activity.
All organizations must gear up to support a multi-channel media strategy in terms of both production and distribution of content through external channels – without limiting the scope of that content’s reach.
Possibly the biggest challenge is to dismantle programmes aimed at communities of interest in favour of a theme and issue-based approach – cohort marketing – which can be ramped up based on user engagement, feedback and take up.
This will require the development of a rapid response approach to content creation, which allows for the deployment of some resources to react to the market demand.