In today's dynamic business world,strategic marketing can be described as a process of understanding an organization's customers with the intent of positioning the value of a product or service.
Many companies have implemented social media and digital marketing plans in the past several years to help execute the strategic marketing plan at a tactical level. Social media and digital marketing can be defined as the practice of conducting an exchange of dialogue and ideas between a company, its influencers, potential prospects, and customers while using multiple online platforms. Moreover, social media marketing and public relations (PR) work together with the goal of engaging in a discussion with the consumer that results in "reciprocated value." Unlike any other form of creating awareness" which is a one-way proposition reciprocated value provides real value to both parties. The voice of the customer is heard and the company receives critical data and feedback in the process. More importantly, there are psychographic points of value that the voice of the customer receives: all of a sudden, the average customer is a "thought leader" with a valued opinion, and someone (theoretically) who others will listen to and ultimately may follow.
For example, I booked the Westin in the Cayman Islands last weekend because Tracy from Gladwyne, PA wrote a review on TripAdvisor saying that it was awesome, and I liked her views on world travel and food.
With the advent of social media, companies have created a new opportunity to connect with their targeted consumers, but developing a true understanding of the customer is more challenging than organizations have been led to believe.
Earlier this year, several big-name corporations like Verizon and Bank of America implemented new business policies. Before doing so, each corporation conducted research on its targeted consumers through social media. After conducting this research, they came to the conclusion that these so-called business reforms would increase revenue. In reality, the changes weren't readily accepted by their customers. Unfortunately for both of these organizations, poorly-conducted research and decision-making led to enraged customers that vehemently expressed their disapproval.
Verizon announced in early January that it would implement a $2 fee for customers who made a one-time Internet or phone payment. Less than a day after making the official announcement on the new policy change, Verizon opted to do away with the $2 charge. In essence, Verizon's announcement prompted customers to sign a petition with over a hundred thousand signatures demanding that the company rescind the fee. Similar to Verizon, Bank of America introduced a $5 surcharge policy for using debit cards. In reaction to the announcement, thousands of Bank of America customers called and complained non-stop until the bank did away with the fee.
From a business standpoint, Verizon and Bank of America were simply charging a small amount of extra money. In reality, their customers viewed their actions as avaricious and unfair. With the inclusion of social media, these companies were met with strong opposition that most likely weakened brand recognition, and also lowered sales as well.
Essentially, social media forever changed consumer awareness and provided Internet users with unprecedented power and influence. Internet users now have the ability to research brands and prices and to share information with other people.
Furthermore, with the condition of the current economy, consumers are more concerned with "value" than they have ever been before. As a result, it is absolutely imperative that companies conduct thorough Voice of the Customer research before implementing new policies. If they fail to do so, not only will social media add fuel to the fire, but a brand's name could also be potentially harmed.