Today, our guest post is by Katleen Richardson of the Marketing Advantage, the author explains why it is harder then ever to keep up with consumer expectations. 

When you look at some of the advertising of decades past, it’s astonishing to see some of the claims that consumers were asked to believe. In recent years, not only have people gotten wise to advertising, but they’re beginning to become immune to to the traditional one-way model. For example, nearly all consumers skip TV ads these days, which is an eye-opener for those who have held on to older marketing models.

In addition, the internet makes things easier for consumers in two ways:

1. They have access to literally millions of options when it comes to spending their money
2. They have the information they need at their fingertips to make well-informed choices.

This means that as business owners and marketers, in order to stand out you have to start making changes that respect the knowledge and research capabilities present in today’s internet users. Old-style advertising is starting to step aside, as many consumers are turned off by it and will leave sites that contain ads. Instead, you have to increase the value of the content you provide in order to keep the attention of an audience that demands greater interaction and more control over product messaging. Providing them with relevant, consistent, and unique information is more important than ever.

You also have to be on your toes when it comes to adjusting your trajectory. Because you can get almost instant feedback from consumers via websites and social media, you can tell more easily and quickly if what you’re doing is working, and make the necessary modifications if it’s not. It also means, however, that consumers have less patience with you when you get it wrong, because it only takes a couple of clicks for them to go elsewhere.

So when you’re looking to overhaul your marketing strategy to conform to these new norms, the investment you have to make is less of a financial one, and more about effort and attention. It’s no longer sufficient just to paste your message up everywhere – you have to ready yourself to be present and engaged with your audience, on their terms. But how?

The first step is to ensure you have relevant content that’s both high-value and unique to you. What makes your content different from everyone else in your market niche? Why will visitors find your site or Facebook page special? What value do you give them to encourage loyalty to your brand?
Keeping your content well-rounded and and from as many sources as possible helps a lot. It’s one thing for you to claim that your product is the best ever, but what do others have to say about it? Today’s consumer is putting less trust in paid endorsements, and giving more weight to what their peers and friends think. Collect testimonials where you can, and back up any claims you make with evidence from independent, verifiable sources.
In this new model of content-driven marketing, Brand identity is more important than ever. It’s essential that the tone of your communications remain relevant to your company’s image, and that you maintain consistency throughout. It will come across as insincere or unprofessional if your style of interacting is formal in some places and casual in others, so be aware of how you’re presenting your business as an entity.

Staying up to date with what consumers expect isn’t easy. With this new content-based emphasis, however, you can get the feedback you need to make the changes that will draw your audience in. Once you have them, make sure you keep them where they are by perpetually providing the best value you can while encouraging two-way interaction. Be sure to read my strategy paper for more information on accommodating consumer expectations.

About the Author:

Katleen Richardson (http://www.marketing-advantedge.com) is an experienced leader who builds integrated strategies combining research, data analysis and creative thinking. She has delivered successful solutions for the publishing, financial and telecommunications industries, as well as for conference and training companies, and professional associations. Her approach is to design customer focused, cost-effective solutions