Why can’t I find new customers? Wrong question.

Not too long ago the paradigm shifted. With few media choices for consumers and large budgets for advertisers, brands would focus on targeting the customer. Consumers watched one of the major television stations, you just needed to look at Nielsen to know which shows. It seemed like every household received the major newspaper in town (or one of the few). The idea of targeting a prospective customer kind of made sense back then.

For most companies, that’s no longer true. Today, customers find you… the real you.

They research online, read articles, ask friends and family, look at reviews. With the exception of references, people generally use search engines to uncover the information they are looking for. Companies need to create a presence online that is both useful to the customer and understandable by the search engines. This takes the form of websites, social media, community activity, forum participation and content creation and sharing. When people research their next purchase, you have to be where they can find you.

Business buyers and consumers, the saying goes, are in control. They decide what they will read, what they will trust and what they will share. Businesses that try to craft a message are finding themselves in tough times. Though perhaps overused, this is why the term “Authentic” has become so prevalent. Brands that look at this as just another marketing tactic, trying too hard to craft a message, fail to recognize the paradigm shift that has given control to the consumers.

To help consumers find your company, engage.

Create robust social profiles on those platforms that people interested in your product or service are likely to use.

Share broadly about your product or service category. Be helpful beyond the scope of your own company. Give them something they want to read, hear or watch.

Participate in forums as individuals who are part of a company, not just a company.

All content and communications must be driven by the core values or principles of the company.

Companies must decide what they stand for. Not some cliche, but what is important to those “in control”, and guide their companies accordingly. This is the core of being authentic. When mistakes happen, and the company makes corrections, the main driver comes from the core values of the company, not the fear of market repercussions. As consumers research, they will come across information (flattering and otherwise) about your company; stick to the core values and the balance will be in your favor.

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