Don’t Let Your Customers “Cut the Cord” on You

3 Tips for Building a Stronger, Faster On-Demand Brand

With HBO and Showtime’s forays into cable-free subscription models, the on-demand world can officially say it has arrived. Sure, Netflix and Hulu have been providing on-demand content for years, and forward-thinking media outlets have begun releasing applications to app stores, game consoles, smart TVs and more–but when an entrenched player like HBO makes the move to go cable-free, industry heads will turn–and in executive boardrooms, they may even roll.

Cord-cutters are literally dancing in the streets. You might even be one of those; I can tell you I am. I’ve been cable-free since 2009 and I can honestly say I never missed it. I’ve gotten what I want, when I want it and I’ll never settle for less again. Obviously I’m not alone.

For traditional cable providers, however, this is a scary time. And if you’re an entrepreneur in virtually any industry, I’d venture to say if you’re running a business the same way you did 10 years ago, you should be scared too. Let me rephrase that, if you’re not scared, you should be.

And lest you think this is limited to entertainment, here are a couple of recent non-media examples of brands feeding consumer’s ravenous on-demand appetite. Tesla announced earlier this year that they’ll be sending a push update over the air to all of their vehicles. This will unlock self-driving capabilities. That’s right, a push notification! Or how about Disney throwing out $250 million to purchase DraftKings, a fantasy football site that allows people to create a game or league instantly for one night or weekend–and then it’s over, and players start again instead of trudging through a 4-6 month season with the same ten guys. Disney and Tesla are brands that recognize the value of instant gratification.

The fact is, consumer’s attention spans have changed. They are getting upwards of 3,000 marketing messages thrown at them each day. They are watching HBO on smart phones in their self-driving cars! Can you blame them? Your message has little to no chance of reaching your target audience unless you adapt it and craft it to their behavior.

At this point you might be thinking what you do is impervious to this behavior. However, I can tell you with absolute certainty that every business needs to adapt to these new rules. In fact, it’s the traditional, Main Street-type businesses that can utilize new methods to gain rapid, exponential competition-crushing results.

So how can you gratify your customers? How can you fill that insatiable need for immediate information? I’ve found it’s a combination of these three ingredients:

  1. Streamlining internal processes
  2. Cherry-picking vendors and partners
  3. Creating custom options and solutions (otherwise known as products)

 

Now, depending on the size and complexity of your business, this could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but it’s possible for any business to take advantage of this changing consumer behavior by implementing these three practices.

We Could All Learn a lot from a Software Developer

Simply put, a team that can access information quicker, can output it to customers and clients faster too. A colleague of mine, Koby Bryan of Innovative Front, gave me some useful advice last year. He suggested I put my internal policies and procedures into an online wiki. Using a wiki platform, I now have an instantly searchable database which my staff can access, add to and organize crucial documents, instructions sets, phone numbers and anything else we put into it. This has sped up everything, from new employee intakes to custom quoting. Frankly, it’s invaluable–even though it was completely free via a simple Google website builder.

You’re Only as Quick as the Herd You Run With

Choose your vendors wisely in the beginning. My customers have come to rely on me and my firm because of our industry leading turnaround times. My branding and marketing agency couldn’t provide products and services as quickly as we do without efficient vendors behind us, period. Don’t be afraid to change or renegotiate when you feel quality and speed of delivery starts slacking, either. I’d suggest you evaluate all of your vendors at least once annually.

And don’t forget to choose your partners and referral sources wisely. Remember, they are a reflection on you and your brand. When they don’t provide stellar products or services you may or may not get an earful, but your reputation takes a big hit regardless. I choose referral partners that have similar values (such as a customer-centric approach) and ones I know who do top-notch work at the same pace as my firm. I love to refer clients to Alex Rodriguez’s YMMY Marketing, because I know he’ll take as great of care of my clients as I would.

Today’s Customer Needs Options

Businesses have to be flexible in response to their customer’s changing needs to survive today. While my own company has standard branding and marketing packages that we offer, we constantly find ourselves making adjustments and tailoring them to fit the specific needs of our clients. Our packages become more of a starting point in the sales discussion rather than an absolute. Whether you’re “holding the tomato” on your restaurant’s salad offering, or offering a 128mb storage option on your latest smartphone, every company needs to consider providing more options.

Last year I got another golden tip from Topher Morrison of Key Person of Influence; a business accelerator program I attended. He told our group of entrepreneurs that if we found ourselves explaining something more than a few times per week, it should be a product. A product doesn’t have to be something for sale either. It could be as simple as a brochure, marketing deck or explainer video. Productizing my business has made our communication efforts more impactful, as well as boosted our online and offline profile.

Time to Get to Work

Any business can implement these three simple ideas. And when you do, you’ll open up a new world of possibilities and ideas. You’ll also start to attract more of today’s consumers who crave that on-demand delivery and you’ll be able to satisfy them. You might not be as sexy as Tesla or HBO, but you can make the same splash.

 

Posted on July 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

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