Okay, so the headline is a bit of a generalisation and the question begs to be answered with a resounding : “no it’s just you” but, bear with me, there is a serious point here.
People visit corporate websites to learn how to solve problems not to genuflect at the altar of a company’s products. Web viewers aren’t interested in the corporate website as a virtual shop window, or online brochure replete with pages called things like “About Us”, “Our Products” or “Our Team”.
Instead potential and repeat customers want answers to at least one of four questions:
- Can the company help fix a problem I’ve got?
- Is the company a good fit with me in terms of my personal values and price expectations?
- When the time is right, will the transaction process will be straightforward?
- Will I be re-assured I’ve made the right choice – will the company be around in the future for repeat business?
Way back in the sands of time … (August 2009), Tom Foremski implored every company “to become a media company – because every company needs to master the technologies of publishing to their customers, staff, neighbo[u]rs, and to raise their media profile against their competitors”.
It’s high time that all brands stop thinking and writing about themselves and start to empathise with customers’ needs. Step forward the brand journalists.
As way of a recent example ANZ, one of the Big Four banks in Australia and New Zealand, now employs around 15 editorial staff to create its own digital and video content. In April 2014 it launched a new online media publication, ‘Blue Notes’.
ANZ’s group head of strategic content and digital media, Amanda Gome, told the Australian newspaper that the banking group is aiming to produce a “thought-leading publication that talks to the people that matter: customers, influencers, corporate clients and others” adding: “We will also be breaking our own stories … .Our aim is to work hand-in-hand with (traditional media) journalists.”
Other brands have shifted some of their media weight from traditional to social media. Think Red Bull, think American Express, think L’Oreal, Paris. These companies now share stories across multiple channels and, like Arkwright, they never close. They respond to customers and potential customers in real time.
This heightened customer engagement demands a significant change in organisational culture, though. The authority of a company’s communication function is extended beyond the auspices of the Corporate Communicator/CMO role and handed to all employees as they become social media brand ambassadors.